By: Erik Pedersen, Senior Communications Manager
Class of 2023 Spotlights
BALTIMORE – Ayana Brim ’23 was a vital contributor throughout one of the best three-year stretches in the history of Notre Dame of Maryland University’s women’s basketball program, a run which culminated in a Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) Championship this winter. During that time period, she put an equal amount of energy into her efforts to become a teacher, including working full-time as a substitute teacher at her K-12 alma mater this semester.
Despite the significant amount of time required to excel in both her academic and athletic pursuits, Brim would not change a thing about her collegiate experience. She made friends who will last a lifetime as a member of the basketball program, all while totaling over 900 points, earning CSAC Rookie of the Year accolades as a freshman, and being named CSAC Tournament MVP during NDMU’s title run in February.
Her time at Notre Dame also helped Brim find her calling as an educator after initially planning to become a nurse. An elementary and early childhood education major, Brim expects to continue working at her current school after graduating from NDMU later this month. Learn more about her academic and athletic experiences below:
How did you first hear about Notre Dame, and what led you to apply here?
My best friend from high school was a class ahead of me, and she went to Notre Dame. That was the first time I had ever heard of it. I was contacted later by the basketball coach, so I started doing some research to learn more about the school. I found out that they had a great nursing program, which is what I originally majored in here. The main things initially were the opportunities to play basketball, major in nursing and also stay close to home.
What inspired you to change your major and work towards becoming a teacher?
I had wanted to be a teacher when I was younger. My mom was a teacher, and I have always loved school. I started working at the school I previously attended – Our Lady of Mount Carmel, it’s a K-12 school – and I just enjoyed being around the kids so much. Starting my job at Our Lady of Mount Carmel and working with the kids there just made me realize that this is what I wanted to do for my career.
What has your Notre Dame experience been like from an academic standpoint? Do you feel like you’ve been set up for success after graduation?
I’ve definitely been set up for success. My classes and my work experience interning at Our Lady of Mount Carmel have both taught me a lot. I worked as an aid in a kindergarten classroom – that’s where I started my internship – and that showed me so much. I learned plenty in my classes, but being hands-on in the classroom and learning more about things like classroom management have made a big difference. I was just recently put into a long-term sub position, and that has given me even more opportunities to grow as a teacher.
What was your experience like as a student-athlete? How were you able to balance that with your academics?
Being a student-athlete was great. It’s what kept me connected with Notre Dame. Between COVID and having a lot of online classes after switching my major, I wasn’t able to spend much time on campus outside of basketball season.
It’s just been a great experience to be able to play college basketball. I’ve met people that are going to be in my life forever, and winning a championship and going to the NCAA tournament was a great way to end my basketball career.
Take us through this year’s championship run. How did it feel to win the title in front of some packed crowds on campus?
It was unbelievable – it took a while for it to really resonate with me that we pulled it off. It took a lot of hard work. Balancing school with basketball and working full time was a big commitment, but it was definitely worth it. If I could go back and do it all over again, I definitely would. It was so much fun to play with girls who have become like sisters to me.
Where was your favorite place to be on campus?
It would have to be the gym. That’s the place where I have met people who have turned into family. I just have so many great memories from there going back to when I started at Notre Dame as a freshman.
What are your current plans for after graduation, and what are your long-term career goals?
It will be a big adjustment getting acclimated to the real world after 19 years as a student, but I plan on continuing to work at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. I am still figuring out which age group I want to teach. I’m working in a second-grade classroom right now, but in the future I might look into teaching younger children.
Is there any message that you’d like to give to NDMU students who are still working their way through college?
Just stick it through when times are tough. It’s definitely worth it. It’s a big accomplishment to graduate – it doesn’t happen for everybody. Enjoy the experience while you can, and take advantage of the time because the real world will come at you quickly.
Established in 1895, Notre Dame of Maryland University (NDMU) is a private, Catholic institution in Baltimore, Maryland, with the mission to educate leaders to transform the world. Notre Dame has been named one of the best "Regional Universities North" by U.S. News & World Report.