“What do you do?” This is a question you should only ask Brittany Newton if you understand what will follow. The response will involve an excited and impressive detailing of multiple projects in motion, as well as glimpses into a young woman’s intellectual and philanthropic future plans and desires.
So set aside a good half-hour for what you might have originally conceived as your direct and singular question.
Newton, a CLA ’17 graduate, is truly a Renaissance woman, engaging her creative mind and passionate energy with a series of projects and endeavors while giving equal effort towards each one. Having graduated in May, she immediately went to work, moving almost seamlessly from her internship at BDP International to a full-time position.
“For the transitional part of my life, BDP was the best option for me,” remarks Newton, “and I’m grateful because I’ve had senior experience very quick that I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to have had I gone into an entry-level position with another company.”
BDP functions as an international provider of logistics and compliance services for big name companies moving their products around the globe. Given all of the rules, regulations, laws and specific guidelines of international importing and exporting, there is a lot to keep an eye on to ensure compliance. Of course, things go wrong on occasion, which is where Newton comes in. Recently promoted to her role as an Import Compliance Consultant, Newton describes her highly specialized position, explaining that when there are process or information breakdowns, she’s “the specialist these companies are coming to, seeing how to move these shipments forward. I am providing them that import specialization… that’s my day job.”
Newton’s week consists of much more than giving import and export advice. After graduating from Temple, she felt more than prepared to enter the working world, but not necessarily for the “life part” that comes with finishing school. For Newton, her nine-to-five is her contribution to society, but she also wants and needs to address another thing that drives her, the question of “where does the passion come in?”
In college, you partake in clubs, sports, groups, etc. because you enjoy them. Participating in them has its own personal purpose. You’re working towards something. The idea of leaving that only to find a job and a house can seem somewhat unfulfilling or lacking. So where and how do you establish a lifestyle in which you hold a stable job that supports you financially, but also creates the space that allows for and supports the kindling of passionate energy?
Newton’s regular week aims at just that, and her passions, though various, all somehow intersect.
She’s working on her own podcast and magazine (the latter will also be available in braille, making it accessible to an often overlooked audience). The podcast recognizes how there’s need in our current cultural and social climate for a space encouraging and facilitating discussion while providing foundational knowledge on key issues. Her content will reach beyond the 20-minute segments you see and hear on shows like The View, The Real and many radio shows. Newton thanks her CLA training for helping her talk about issues like gender and equality, wage pay gaps, diversity and inclusion. It also provided her with the tools and background knowledge to adequately promote these conversations.
“I felt like there were no millennial-owned platforms having these discussions because a lot of times people will bring millennials on to their platform and ask ‘what’s the millennial perspective on this?’” she says of the project, called FreeUp. “When they say ‘millennial perspective’ they’re really saying ‘can you just say the progressive opinion?’ But I know a bunch of conservative millennials too, and so I wanted to be able to provide that kind of space. The show is our space where anyone can come in, and it’s called FreeUp because you’re supposed to free yourself those kinds of categories you place yourself in your mind.”
Newton used to consider or categorize herself as an intellectual and a thinker, but not a creative, feeling like you could only choose one. However, her involvement in Temple’s LeaderShape program offered a shift in that thinking. She largely credits this program for how her life has panned out up to this point. As a participant in LeaderShape, you spend about a week in the woods at Camp Canadensis in Canadensis, PA.
“The whole program is about how to be a leader with integrity and how to draft up your vision,” she recalls. “A breakthrough that I had there was not only can I be a visionary, but my vision doesn’t have to be something that fits into someone else’s vision. And that I am a creative. Which was great, since I always thought of myself as an intellectual and a thinker. Creative meant artistic. And I didn’t feel like an artist because I couldn’t draw. To me that’s what art was—drawing and painting. But no. So now I’ve been able to be on this creative journey.”
That journey has many channels for exploration and productive self-examination. Also having been a member of Greek life at Temple, Newton attended the National Greek Leadership Association (NGLA) Conference, which emphasized the importance of “your rhetoric matching your reality.” This mentality is something she has continually embraced: does what you say align with who you are and how you act? And if these things don’t match, where can you improve or what do you need to accept about yourself? What she is encouraging people to do is also what she is doing herself.
Newton wants to be able to advise, and she is actively building up her credentials to be a successful, well-rounded life consultant. Currently, she is studying at Temple’s Real Estate Institute, with the thought process being “I want to be an owner and own things, but why pay someone else the commission when I can buy my own house?” Slotted to finish the program in April and be licensed by late spring, she’s also studying to go back to school for a joint MBA/JD program.
Why all of these different, but large-scale moves? Newton explains that she wants to put programs on, the type that will foster and enable discussions for her targeted audience of students who are at the end of high school and early college. She sees this time in young adult life as a pivotal period for people “in terms of recognizing you are actually in charge of your life and can have everything that you want now. That to me is going to be called the Vision Project. In trying to find my voice as a creative and an entrepreneur, I found that there’s a lot that can deter you from that. I’m going back to school and doing all these things because I want the information I am giving people to be sound.”
Newton was a Temple student ambassador for three years. She participated in Experience Temple Days, speaking honestly and informatively with prospective students and their parents. The conversations she had about what to expect out of a college experience extended well beyond the classroom, really focusing on the opportunities you can pursue for yourself while in the college setting. For Newton, it’s important to encourage a more organic exploration of what the student wants, rather than establishing what you think they should want. Her time as a student ambassador really allowed her to network and meet a lot of interesting people in CLA.
“Within the humanities, they are a different kind of people. We are very much well-rounded, critical thinkers, so I felt really at home in CLA. A lot of them stay true to who they are and what they want. For me, they were really good people I could learn from for how to navigate this next step of getting what I want out of life and out the world and how I can incorporate a job and passion into that.”
As a Psychology major, Newton also took classes in business, African American studies and several other departments. Having room for electives, she wanted a consistent knowledge of things. This funnels back to her main belief that liberal arts is going to save the world.
"Things are not separate. Everything intersects. And I really credit CLA for training my brain to think intersectionally and to know that nothing is surface level. Everything has a backstory, and the backstory is the story. That is the most important part. So I thank CLA for training my brain to think critically in that way, but I also credit the staff. It’s one thing to teach people those things, and it’s another for the teachers to do that themselves. So I really am appreciative of the people in the CLA and in the Professional Development Department who really help you step by step, teachers who are actively doing the research they are talking about, so they are able to add perspective and real life understanding of these things. Not just the teachers, but the staff. The people in the Dean’s office who make these programs available and place value on having vision and empowering students.”
Despite calling it her “day job,” Newton links her role at BDP back to Temple. She’s a part of her company’s employee development program, as well as a brand ambassador for the company. She gets to work closely with the Professional Development Office in the CLA while working with her Human Resources Department—looking to create opportunities like she had herself, pushing for more CLA students to get internships at BDP.
If the liberal arts are going to save the world, a lot of that strength and power comes from the network that the humanities create. The conversations and discussions that we have together is what ultimately opens up the avenue for these experiences and opportunities that enables us to achieve and grow—something that Newton hopes to continually remind all of us.