Image of Ebony Bryant

December 5, 2019

Ebony Bryant’s earliest memory of using her voice for diversity and inclusion was when she and her mother, the Rev. Sharon S. Freeland, challenged her elementary school to celebrate the MLK holiday.
“I learned that I could bring change that day. I didn’t realize that I would end up in diversity work, but it’s not surprising,” Bryant ’01 said. “My first official job in diversity was the minority recruiter at UNCW right after I graduated. I’ve seen the students I brought in do amazing things in the world. Seeing that impact motivated me to do more.”
As the director of diversity initiatives at Duke University, Bryant addresses the lack of underrepresented groups and student retention, and ensures diverse alumni remain connected to the university. She also oversees the Law School Admission Council Prelaw Undergraduate Scholars Program at Duke Law School, a four-week residential pipeline program open to college students from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in the legal profession. Bryant serves as an advocate and advisor for affinity student groups and works with the departments in the law school to ensure a diverse and inclusive community.
UNCW has played a large role in her story and her success because of opportunities that empowered Bryant to grow as an employee and leader, she said. “The skills that I gained working with the Association for Campus Entertainment prepared me for the event planning that I eventually did in my career and gave me experience that put me ahead of others as I was starting out.”
Bryant, who became a pastor in January 2019, gives to her alma mater because UNCW has given her so much, she said. “My hope is that a new generation of Seahawks will get to experience what I did and if my monthly donation can help, even in a small way, my heart is happy.” She is a member of the Clocktower Society and the UNCW Society and supports the Upperman African American Cultural Center and diversity scholarships. She is also active in the African American Graduate Association.
“I know that I am where I am because somebody went before me. It would be irresponsible of me to not be that somebody for other students,” Bryant said. “I have based my entire career off the belief that access to information is key. If I make sure students of color and first-generation students have the information about college, about scholarships, about law school, they can then make decisions about their future. When you give information, you make an impact. When you give money, you have a voice. I want to have both.”
-- Venita Jenkins