Hannah Collings – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa.- Dr. Brenda Dede, associate vice president of Academic Affairs, received the 2016 Citizen of the Year Award from the Clarion Chamber of Business and Industry March 11.
Dede worked in higher education for 25 years at Texas Southern University and the past 22 at Clarion University. She said her inspiration is the desire to help people, treat them fairly and assist them in achieving their goals.
The oldest of six children, Dede grew up in Houston, Texas. Her mother and grandmother both worked as domestic servants or ‘the help,’ she said. “I knew that that was not what I wanted to do,” she said. “So I determined that I needed to get a college degree.”
Dede was the first of her immediate family members to earn a college degree. “Only one other [sibling] finished college: the youngest sister,” she said.
Though unsure of what she specifically wanted to do, Dede said, “I wanted to do something helping people.”
Dede earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Texas Southern University. She went on to achieve a master’s in education and doctorate in higher education from the same university.
Both of her grandmothers wanted her to be a high school teacher.
In her position at Clarion University, Dede said she is a student advocate. “I work with students, faculty and administrators on a daily basis to help solve issues and problems,” she said.
Dede said in her position she seeks to ensure equal treatment and application of rules for everyone.
Even though she did not want to teach nor pursue a career in social work, Dede said her work is a combination of both. “On a daily basis, I do the social work, [and] sociology part plus the teacher part,” she said. “Even though I’m not in a classroom.”
Dede’s favorite part of her position is meeting and working with different people.
For Dede, the most difficult part of working in higher education has been keeping up with trends and laws related to education.
“And of course, being accepted as a black woman in a male-dominated profession,” she said
“I think that every position I’ve had, I’ve been successful in it, and I managed to do the things that were right, do the things that were called for,” said Dede. “And certainly if I hadn’t been successful, I wouldn’t have moved to where I am now.”
When Dede won the Citizen of the Year Award, she said she was happy but surprised that the Clarion Chamber of Business and Industry knew of and valued her work.
The website of local radio station 92.7 FM said in order to be eligible for the Citizen of the Year Award, a person must have volunteered or held employment in the Clarion community in the past year. Nominees are those who increase the quality of life of Clarion County.
In addition to her role in higher education, Dede is an active community member both on and off campus. She is currently the vice president of the Clarion Borough Council.
Her legacy of education continues through her daughter who earned a degree in pharmacy, and grandson who earned a degree in education.