“I felt like I had a good story to tell,” Kayla Breaud, student speaker at the morning commencement ceremony, said about why she applied to speak. Breaud, a Distinguished Scholar, graduated with a 4.0 GPA and was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success. She earned her associate’s degree in psychology.

Breaud explained that she didn’t originally plan on attending college right after high school. She learned that Brookdale’s women’s soccer team needed a goal keeper and decided to attend in fall 2016. “They welcomed me with open arms,” said Breaud of the team and Head Coach Katie Amundson. “I owe my whole experience at Brookdale to Katie,” said Breaud who was the goalkeeper on the Region XIX championship team in 2016.

“I had been off the field for nearly a year and was awed by the team’s striking history of success… and I was worried that I couldn’t live up to expectations. Coach Amundson told me that I was capable of so much more.”

– Kayla Breaud

“I’ve never experienced so much winning before Brookdale,” said Breaud. In addition to the winning soccer season, she also became very active with WILL, Women in Learning and Leadership, on campus. She attended a panel discussion sponsored by WILL on the Me Too movement and immediately knew she wanted to learn more. “WILL gives us the space to tell our stories. It is an atmosphere of acceptance,” she said.

WILL fostered my growth into a leader and an activist. I was encouraged to think globally about the issues we face economically, politically, and socially.

– Kayla Breaud

In fall 2018, Breaud became WILL co-president. The student organization invited a speaker to come to campus to talk about women’s health. “It gave women a new awareness of their bodies and how to take better care of themselves,” she said. WILL also organized an informational panel on resources for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. “We wanted to shed light on the topic and let survivors know that help is out there,” said Breaud. This discussion won a Gold Star Award and a Global Citizenship Project Award.

“Brookdale broke me out of my shell and helped me to find my voice,” Breaud said. She will attend Rutgers University in the fall as a social work major. “I want to make a difference, and Brookdale has given me the tools to do that.”