September 2, 2020

Spotlight Series: Susette Nicole Brooks, M.F.A. ’19

Susette Nicole Brooks, M.F.A. ’19, has a passion for mentoring young writers and loves using storytelling to help nonprofits, colleges, government agencies, and elected officials.

Our spotlight series highlights a student or graduate of the Welch Center for Graduate and Professional Studies. We asked these individuals about their careers, their hobbies, and what they love about their program.

SusetteBrooksThis week’s feature is: 
Susette Nicole Brooks, M.F.A. ’19
Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator at the New Jersey State Library, Public Affairs Officer at the New Jersey Army National Guard, and Freelance Writer

What excites you most about your job/field of work?

I love using storytelling to help nonprofits, colleges, government agencies, and elected officials meet their communications goals. The organizations I support are committed to improving the well-being of their communities. There’s no higher mission than giving yourself to help others.

What is the most interesting/unusual/challenging project you’ve worked on?

At the New Jersey State Library, I’ve been developing communications plans for Fresh Start @ Your Library, a reentry program that provides resources to individuals returning to their local communities from prison. This two-year, grant-funded project has been a challenge because my job is to communicate with very distinct audiences: returning citizens, elected officials, local business owners, and nonprofits. All of these groups play integral roles in the success of the program, so I must provide compelling content that promotes the program AND meets the needs of the audience. On top of this challenge, libraries where services are provided have been closed since March, and the digital divide makes it extremely difficult to reach many of our communities. If someone in need of services can’t step into a library and doesn’t have consistent internet access, how can we provide critical information? This is an ongoing challenge that I am trying to overcome.

What do you like most about your program? If you are a graduate, what did you like most?

Wow, there are so many great experiences to choose from, but the relationship building is the best. The M.F.A. in Nonfiction enabled me to develop lifelong friendships with both faculty and students that continue to serve me. The culture of the program is such that alumnae/i who have never met become instant family. Simply having attended the program bonds this community in a way I’ve never seen before.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned in your program?

The difference between truth and fact.

In 2-3 sentences, tell us about your first job in your field of study?

I helped implement communications plans for the Welch Center at Goucher College!

What are your favorite passions/hobbies?

My passion is mentoring young writers. In college, I was lucky to find professors and classmates who recognized and nourished my talent. If not for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today, so I strive to return the favor. I love teaching, especially, college students everything that I’ve learned about how to develop relationships, ask for what you want, find mentors, and strengthen writing skills. I want every young writer I meet to believe in their worthiness and in the possibility of their success.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Stay scrappy.

What is your advice to individuals who are looking to pursue a career related to your program?

You can do whatever you set your mind to do.

Is there a member of your cohort that has impacted you in a positive way? If so, who? How have they impacted you?

Yes, Leslie Rubinkowski is the director of the M.F.A. in Nonfiction. When she called to tell me she accepted me into the program, she changed my life, and she’s continued to do so by providing me with new opportunities and her infinite wisdom. I’m forever indebted.