HBCU Student Spotlight: Briana Ballatt
Can you describe yourself for myself and the readers?
Hi, I am Briana Ballatt, a graduating senior at Florida A&M University, from Baltimore, Maryland by way of Orlando, FL. I am an aspiring artist, model, fashion designer, and fashion-based visionary director.
Another aspiration of mine is to start my creative journey in New York City and eventually travel around the world to share my work. My upbringing carried some challenges coming from a single-parent household and being a twin.
A lot of my growth and maturity was influenced from my mother and my grandmother. They both served as extremely hardworking, supportive, and consistent figures in both me and my brother’s lives, and for that I am forever grateful. But with any struggle comes triumph, so I am extremely fortunate to be where I am now as a soon-to-be graduate from one of the top HBCUs in the nation, thanks to the support of my female pillars.
What influenced you to choose an HBCU?
What influenced me to choose an HBCU was my environment. I always went to diverse schools growing up, but I always had a majority of black friends over any other race. Coming from a family where my father is black and my mother is of Puerto Rican descent, my black side kind of over-shadowed my Spanish side, so I figured why not check out an HBCU. Another thing that influenced me to choose an HBCU was seeing a bunch of license plates repping FAMU, so I got curious and decided to look into FAMU.
Who or what inspired you to get into track?
What inspired me to become a track athlete were four amazing women: my Grandmother (Abuela), my mom, Wilma Rudolph, and Florence “Flo Jo” Griffith Joyner. My abuela and my mom both participated in track and field at young ages, but never chose to pursue it into college, so I decided to kind of take the reigns on that and, in a sense, finish what they started. As for Wilma Rudolph, I did a project on Wilma Rudolph in the 3rd grade for Black History Month, and ever since I learned about her I always admired her strength, persistence, and faith to accomplish something everyone from doctors to her own family didn’t believe she could do: 1) walk/run and 2) be one of the best black, woman athletes of her time. I dang sure cannot leave out “Flo Jo”, one of the fastest black women to ever live. She is an inspiration to me because she practiced self-love and demonstrated what it meant to be dedicated to her talent and her craft, which is how she became one of the greatest in Track and Field history. Now, in terms of modeling, I was always told as kid that I should take up modeling because of my afro-ethnic features and my slim frame. Because of that, and my occasional TV binges to America’s Next Top Model, I decided to tap into modeling in college.
How was it transitioning from an athletic career to a modeling career?
The transition from having an athletic career to modeling was fairly easy due to the fact that my body is fit and my track workouts kept me very disciplined with my fitness while in preparation for fashion shows and photo-shoots.
What activities are you currently involved in?
I am apart of a modeling troupe at my university called, Images Modeling Troupe Inc. It is one of the top and highly favored modeling organizations on my college campus. I have served as the leading female fashion coordinator for our prospective models and photo-shoot/show productions. Aside from that role, I have mentored numerous models (past and current) in efforts to build confidence, demonstrate professionalism, and teach our models how to embrace their inner and outer beauty utilizing their wardrobe. My organization offers annual shows that display our talents in everything from fashion, graphic design, hair and make-up, to set and design.
You are currently involved with a brand that highlights Black culture. Can you explain what that is?
I serve as one of the main brand ambassadors of the 4theCulture app. The creator and president of the app are my friends from Morgan State University, Adrian Dickerson and Troy Williams. They both came together and collaborated ideas to develop this amazing, afro-centric, pro-black app that promotes everything from notable black history, black figures in history, black businesses, black music/books/movies… basically everything BLACK! The primary focus is to bring awareness to our black communities and highlight the values and significance of our culture. Promoting and supporting black businesses is one of our main goals with this app, and we anticipate to bring in the New Year with a strong effort in doing just that.
What is some advice that you can give to other millennial woman of color?
Some words of wisdom I can share with the next generation of millennial women are: embrace your talents to their maximum potential, value your health and wellness, love and appreciate every aspect of yourself because beauty defines more than just looks, it defines character, how you view yourself and how you present yourself to the world.