Editor's note: This story first appeared in the winter 2020 issue of the Hearts Together, a special joint campus magazine publication of Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor.

When Brianna “Bri” Dorpat decided to attend Concordia University Wisconsin, she carried on a proud family tradition that began more than a century ago.

Bri is one of eight Dorpats spread out over four generations to attend a school within the Concordia University System. While most have attended schools other than CUW, Bri was the first to bring the tradition back to Wisconsin, bookending the one who started it all, Rev. Theodore Dorpat, who began his time at Concordia College, Milwaukee (now CUW) in the early 1910s.

While at CUW, Bri is doing the family name proud. She’s a student-athlete, she edged out approximately 30 applicants fora coveted RA position this year, and she claimed a spot among the university’s first ever Diversity Advocates.

What does it mean to be a Diversity Advocate?

There are eight of us, and we’re all in different res halls. Our job is basically to be a set of ears for people to come talk to us about anything they’re struggling with, especially struggles that might come with being someone in the minority. One of the coolest things for me is the DAs meet to discuss books on social issues. Getting to meet and talk with this small group, it really gives me encouragement that there are people who actively care at Concordia. It’s nice that we’re able to have those hard conversations and feel safe in expressing our opinions.

What’s the ultimate goal of the Diversity Advocates program? 

Our goal is to help people feel safe and welcomed when they come to Concordia. We want there to be diversity on campus, and we want people to feel like Concordia is their home away from home.

You chose to major in social work, and minor in justice and public policy. What drew you to that combination? 

My dad played a big part in my decision. He has over 25 years’ experience in law enforcement. He would often share how important he felt a social worker could be in a police department. Police officers are taught to deal with people on a legal level. Social workers deal with them on a mental health level and connect them to resources that can ultimately help them stop getting into trouble with the law.

How did you choose which Concordia you would attend? 

It wasn’t a given that I would go to a Concordia actually. I was initially looking at another school. I didn’t even know CUW had a social work program until my dad suggested we visit, and then I saw how awesome the program was. I also love the fact that we’re on a lake. I think it’s an absolutely beautiful campus, and I’m so proud to carry on the family tradition.

What’s been the toughest part about being a first-time RA amidst COVID?

Definitely remembering people! Since you can’t see their full face, you have to rely on other features. We really focused in training on ways to build community, though, and I’m finding creative ways.

The winter 2020 Hearts Together magazine hit mailboxes in mid-November. View a PDF version of the magazine here. If you are not on our mailing list, but are interested in receiving a free copy, email Jennifer.Hackmann@cuaa.edu.

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