3 Questions with Alumna Catherine Brewton
This year’s Founder's Day Convocation address will be delivered by alumna and music executive, Catherine Brewton. Ms. Brewton is currently the Vice President of Creative at Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) in Atlanta, GA where she manages relationships with songwriters and composers throughout the country. Ms. Brewton is also known for her philanthropic work, most notably as Chairwoman and founder of Hope For Harvest, a non-profit that was founded to continue the legacy started by Brewton’s mother in Charlotte, N.C. The organization uses cultural influences to make necessary living items accessible for the city’s underserved youth while providing an escape through the arts.
Below, Ms. Brewton tells us why she’s excited to return to campus and share her story with current Shaw students.
1. What does it mean to you to be able to come back to Shaw and share your experience and wisdom with current students?
“This has been a conversation that I’ve had for about four or five years and the timing with my career and other life commitments just hasn’t made it possible for me to make it back. The few times I’ve been approached about coming back, timing wise it just didn’t make sense. The opportunity kept appearing on my radar, so I said, ‘obviously it keeps coming back around because there’s some purpose.’ I’m very keen on things having a kind of divine purpose and what it means to the greater good, so I’m excited.
“I haven’t been back on campus in twenty plus years, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to go back and see how the university has changed. I’m certainly hoping that I can share some of my struggles - but more importantly - my success. I was a kid coming from a single-parent home, graduated from an HBCU, and started at a fortune 50 company the day after I graduated. My story is unique in one aspect, but not because I was smarter than the next kid. I just had a plan and I stayed the course.”
2. What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of? Can you give an example of a professional and a personal accomplishment?
“Professionally, I’ve produced a couple of television award shows that have become marquee events that TV One aired called The Trailblazers of Gospel Music. That was my brainchild. I didn’t grow up saying ‘I’m going to produce television shows,’ but the opportunity presented itself and it became kind of an amazing program that was television worthy and we produced a number of times.
“On a personal level, I lost my mom in ’07 and she was a real big advocate for the underserved. She founded Community Outreach Christian Ministries in Charlotte and helped feed hundreds of thousands of people. A year ago, I dedicated a 5,000 square foot facility after my mom called the Barbara Brewton Hope for Harvest Youth Center that offers programs to underserved youth. This past summer we provided a free summer camp for 50-60 at risk kids and most recently we began to offer families who are in shelters an opportunity to do training in our computer lab and have a warm meal.
“That to me means more than anything I’ve gotten paid to do. The things that have no monetary value - if you’re coming in and doing them from a pure place - will have the biggest impact on your life and those will be the biggest things you’ll be remembered for.”
3. What is one piece of advice on life you would give every college student?
“Pursue your purpose. I think social media has skewed what kids believe to be success, and to me, success should be purpose driven. Do the things you feel like you were put here to do, even if it means forgoing a big check to start out. If you pursue purpose, the money will come. That has been my mantra.
“I would also say don’t believe 90 percent of social media, and if your platform on social media is not used to empower or to make a difference, it will be a detriment for you when entering the workplace. Most employers will vet you on your social outlets, so be mindful of what you put on social media platforms. It becomes a representation of who you are.”
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