Black History Month: How One Student’s History is Shaping Her Future

As the Community College of Aurora celebrates Black History Month, it’s clear by looking at the vastly diverse population on campus that “black identity” is not a monolith. 

Looking beyond labels, stereotypes and rigid definitions of what it means to be “black,” students on campus offer their own unique perspectives on what “black identity” means for our students. 

Deja Brown is one such person. As a student employee with the Division of Strategic Communications and Alumni Engagement, Brown is already well on her way to setting herself up for a career as a successful graphic designer, assisting the marketing team with design projects geared at engaging students with unique and interesting creative designs. 

She first fell in love with graphic design as a high school student taking college classes in the field. 

“I knew I wanted to do something art related. So I gave it a chance, and fell in love with it. And it’s kind of evolved, and kept going,” Brown said. 

Brown is studying Graphic Design and Digital Media at CCA, before she makes the move to the University of Northern Colorado, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in graphic design.  

Her identity and cultural heritage play a vital role in her approach to her education and her future aspirations. With a rich mix of various ancestries, including Ethiopian, Bohemian, French and Creole, she draws upon her own story to guide her path forward. 

Unlike some college campuses, Brown recognizes CCA’s unique place as Colorado’s most diverse college. At a previous school, she says she was the only black person in her program. 



But looking around her classes at CCA, she finds comfort in seeing people who share similar backgrounds as her. Those shared experiences make her feel welcomed, and empower her voice to be heard. 

“My confidence was kind of shot down, because I realized I was the odd one out,” Brown said of her time spent in a less diverse program. “Being here, I realized I do have something worthwhile to offer, and something to contribute, instead of hiding that part of me.”

Even as a student, she says her identity is helping her find her own space in the graphic design world. Brands like Smartwater have reached out to her to help with projects for a Black History Month campaign. 

Though she feels voices of black creatives can get lost in spaces that lack diversity, it can also be an asset, when companies recognize that diversity can help lend new and unique voices to their brands. 

With her budding career on the horizon, Deja plans on using her voice even more to help others who are trying to get out their message. 

“I want to open a creative studio that focuses primarily on people of color. I want to offer my services to them, because I know that those opportunities don’t really come around as easily,” she said. 

For now, Brown says she’s laser focused on doing whatever it takes to succeed, even if it means having to work harder to get her art noticed. Her website is filled with colorful examples of her work, and proof that she is determined to stand out from the rest. 

“Someone else’s 60%, you have to put in 110%. You always have to go above and beyond. So that’s kind of where I am. There’s no days for rest to get to where I want to get to. Because I don’t have that time to slack off, and miss those opportunities.”

Follow Deja on Instagram at @Dejadoodlesart and connect with her on LinkedIn HERE.

Photos by: Dept. of Strategic Communications