Spotlight On: SLU Urban Studies Student Bibi Braide

Bibi Braide (M.A. Urban Studies Program) is a natural-born leader. Just ask her. “I am good with people,” she admits. “When I speak, people tend to listen.” Asked how she acquired that skill, she replied, “It’s just a part of me. When you work with people, you have to see the world through their eyes and know where they are coming from. And they respond to that.”

Bibi, who was born in Nigeria but grew up in the U.S., earned a degree in nutrition from Lehman College, and for the past ten years has been a nutritionist at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center WIC Program, a teaching hospital in an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Flatbush, Brooklyn. She works in a federally funded program that provides nutritional care including screening, assessments, diet instruction, and other counseling for low income families. Bibi’s patients are primarily women, children and infants—she often counsels pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and mothers with their children.

In addition to her job at Wyckoff hospital, Bibi is a certified doula. She works as a private contractor for the Healthy Start Brooklyn, By My Side Program. The Program is funded by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which recruited and trained her. “It was through one of the trainings that the program sent me, Family Development Credential, that I found out about Joseph Murphy Institute, now the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. Interestingly, family development credential classes teach how to work with mothers and families, treating them with respect regardless of their background or income status,” she said.

And if anyone knows about the need for mothers and families to feel respected, it’s Bibi, who for twelve years has single-handedly raised her son Ryan, now 21. “I told myself, if there’s one thing I accomplish in my life, it will be to raise a successful child,” she said. “That would be enough.” Ryan, who is now attending NYU on a full scholarship, returned his mother’s devotion by telling her that now it is her turn: he wants her to focus on her own education and fulfillment.

Bibi says she chose SLU because of its unique mission. When asked why she opted for Urban Studies, she replied, “The work that I am already doing gives me insight into the community and how to help people. I want to understand even more about their problems, and how they can be mitigated. I want to be able to use my voice to help people, and Urban Studies helps you learn to contribute in both a community setting and a government setting.”

When asked what she would like to be doing in five years, Bibi had a ready response. “I would love to be in a position where I can be part of the decision-making. In my neighborhood, on a community planning board, or at a non-profit, maybe even in government,” she said. “People need so much: there need to be more daycare centers, the needs of families need to be looked after. I’ve been in management positions all through my career. Everywhere I have gone, people have wanted me to lead. And I’m ready to lead.”

Bibi credits Cherise Mullings, her program advisor Samina Shahidi, and Michael Johnson for making her educational journey at SLU particularly special. “Here’s the thing about SLU,” she said, “From the time a student walks in until they leave, they never lack for anything in the way of support.” To students considering applying to SLU, she counsels: “Just keep yourself open and receptive to all the advice and guidance that SLU offers. Take advantage of all the resources the School has and all the support it provides. Do that, and do your work, and you will achieve your goals.”

And when Bibi talks, people tend to listen.