Brenau University students take a selfie during Grrrl PowHer Hour on Thursday, Oct. 21, in Pearce Auditorium. (Photos by AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Alumna Autumn Dodson encourages Grrrl PowHer Hour audience to find ‘joy in doing’

Oct 22, 2021
Kathryne Davis

Brenau University faculty, staff and students filed into Pearce Auditorium on Thursday, Oct. 21, for an upbeat, in-person Grrrl PowHER Hour featuring keynote speaker and alumna Autumn Dodson.

Dodson earned her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Brenau in 2018 and a doctorate in education in 2021. As an undergraduate student, Dodson was a Baxter-Bryan Scholar, Miss Brenau and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha. She broke many school records as a basketball player, including most career points.

While working on her doctorate at Brenau, Dodson wrote and published her first book, My Teacher Looks Like Me, which tells the story of a Black elementary school student whose teacher is a young Black woman.

Brenau alumna Autumn Dodson, WC ’18, BU ’21, speaks during Grrrl PowHer Hour.

The latest installment of Grrrl PowHER Hour, an annual informal convocation hosted by The Women’s College, highlighted this year’s GOLD Program “L” year of leadership and its theme of “The Joy in Doing.” The GOLD Program is an ongoing component of The Women’s College and previously devoted a “G” year to gender awareness followed by an “O” year dedicated to ownership of personal responsibility. The ensuing “D” year will focus on diversity.

Dodson touched on the “L” year theme in her speech by encouraging the audience to find joy in their lives. She brought up three points: the joy in doing what you love, the joy in doing for others and the joy in doing for yourself.

“I challenge you to dig deep down into what you love and what you find joy in doing because it’s worth it,” she said.

Dodson said her last point, the joy in doing for yourself, is the most important of the three.

“You want to take care of yourself so much that you’re overflowing,” she said. “Then you can pour into others. If I wasn’t overflowing with joy, I wouldn’t be able to pour into the students in my classroom. You have to take that time for yourself or you will become exhausted and you will burn out.”

Thursday’s event also featured performances by Brenau’s cheerleading team and song performances by senior Alexis Trammell. Seniors Alexis Anderson, Student Government Association president, and Haley Bartoletta, the 2021-22 Baxter-Bryan Scholar, also spoke.

“Grrl PowHER Hour is about the women in this room and showing off who we are and what we can be, how to use our voice and become a better leader or person than you were the day before,” Anderson said. “This is the ‘L’ year, which stands for leadership, so I tell each and every one in this room to take advantage of that. Apply for that job. Take that position. Raise your hand in class. Start a club. Nobody can be a better version of yourself than you.”

Bartoletta said Grrrl PowHER Hour is one of her favorite Brenau events and that she was glad to have it in person this year. While she didn’t know Dodson personally before this event, Bartoletta learned of Dodson’s strength and leadership through the Brenau community.

“In this hour, we recognize, enjoy and celebrate the accomplishments that we all give and receive every day,” she said. “All of us know that at Brenau, girl power happens all the time, every moment of the day. The best part about this event, specifically, is that all you have to do is look around to see it.”

Read more about Dodson in the current issue of the Brenau Window.

Brenau alumna and Grrrl PowHer Hour keynote speaker Autumn Dodson, center, with her Alpha Kappa Alpha sisters on Thursday, Oct. 21.