As a junior majoring in political science and minoring in mass communications, Britney Deas is not experiencing the typical college experience as she will be the first black female student body president.
However, she will use her passion for advocacy and diversity throughout her presidency.
The Miami native grew up in a Haitian family and lives with her mother and grandmother. Deas said she has her mother to thank for instilling the value of education and hard work into her. She considers her mother as not only an inspiration but also as a best friend.
“My mom always says I’m her little purse because she takes me everywhere,” Deas said.
Deas’ extroverted personality derives from her mother putting her in modeling agencies, ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop classes at the age of three, as well as piano lessons.
“I took them all at the same time — I was that kid,” Deas joked.
In high school, Deas still made sure extracurriculars were apart of her life by joining cheerleading.
However, it was difficult for Deas to be more involved since she was commuting 40 minutes every day to get to school. She said her mother wanted to make sure she attended the best school possible, which meant distance would be a factor.
According to the website Niche, Deas’ high school — Archbishop Edward A. McCarthy High School — is rated number two for the best Catholic school in Broward County.
Her sophomore year of high school, Deas moved to Lakeland for two years, and Tampa shortly after she got accepted into USF.
As a freshman, Deas was initially drawn toward the Black Student Union and Club Creole to be surrounded by her Haitian culture.
“When I transferred to Lakeland, there was no one else that looked like me,” Deas said. “I was one of the only black girls in my high school so it was nice to be with people who I shared similarities with.”
With the help of her soon-to-be mentor, Judelande Jeune, Deas was introduced to Student Government (SG) and made the switch from pre-med to political science.
The two bonded over a common culture and were able to speak Creole together which made their friendship grow.
“From the first couple times we spoke with each other, I knew that [Deas] had a good head on her shoulders,” Jeune said. “She definitely had the passion and the work ethic that carried her throughout.
“Nobody can say anything negative about her work ethic.”
Jeune was never formally asked to be Deas’ mentor, but the nature of their relationship progressed that way because she is a few years older.
“[Deas] has a way of forcing you into her life and making you love her,” Jeune said.
Jeune introduced Deas to SG initially for minority representation. Now as the first black female student body president, she said she “couldn’t be more proud.”
“She’s getting more young black women to believe in themselves,” Jeune said.
Jeune was worried at first about Deas running for student body president because she didn’t want her “bubble of good spirit and energy” to be tarnished. However, she now admires how much Deas cares about other people and how outgoing she is.
Deas’ main goals for the next year are carrying out her term as student body president, passing her LSAT and getting accepted into law school.
“I don’t want to disappoint anyone or students,” Deas said. “As long as I know I tried my best to make something happen, that’s enough for me.”
It’s a lifetime goal for Deas to advocate for access to education and end world hunger. Her passion for these issues inspired her to create an initiative on her platform for students to donate leftover meal swipes at the end of the semester.
This issue also speaks loudly to Deas because of an experience she had when she was visiting Haiti.
“This boy couldn’t finish high school because he didn’t have enough money (equivalent to 25 American dollars), so I took out my wallet and gave him the money and his face lit up,” Deas said. “He said to me ‘I don’t care if I don’t eat, I don’t want to miss school’ and that made me realize how much people take education for granted.”
Deas said she always had an interest in politics but she was inspired to pursue it further after Barack Obama was elected into office. She also looked up to Michelle Obama as a role model during her time as First Lady.
Although she is not sure which law school or specialty she wants to practice, Deas said she knows she wants to be an advocate for her community.
“One of my biggest fears is not being successful but I know I will make it somewhere because I have that drive in me,” Deas said.