By Kasy Long
Feb 8, 2024
2015 Political Science Alumna
at Indiana State University
Bre’Anna Donaldson had a dream: To be an attorney.
While many high school students prepare for success in college without knowing what their careers might look like, Donaldson, a 2015 political science alumna, knew she was destined to be an attorney. When she came to Indiana State University, she was unsure of what she would specifically major in, but knew she wanted to practice law and, in so doing, add to the greater good of society.
Naturally, Donaldson, a 21st Century Scholar, excelled academically and socially during her freshman year, and she became involved with several campus organizations.
“Being a recipient [of the 21st Century Scholars program] along with receiving other scholarships allowed me not to incur debt in undergrad because I understood the debt I would have from law school,” she says.
Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program is an early-college promise program to make college more affordable for students. Eligible students receive a two- or four-year scholarship that can pay up to 100 percent of tuition to a partnered college in Indiana.
Donaldson decided she wanted to be an attorney at a young age when she witnessed her father, the late Corneal Donaldson, successfully navigate his privately owned business. While most children her age had no understanding of the impact of laws on businesses, Donaldson’s father would talk with her about the changes he had to make in regard to such laws. Her father always encouraged her plan to become an attorney and trusted that her innate initiative would get her anywhere she wanted to go.
A courtroom would be lucky to have her. He aided in instilling the foundation that education is important, and that no one can take away what you know.
“At a young age, I always advocated with and for others. While I did not know any African American attorneys, I knew I would become one and inspire others, as well. Service is the core. We have to be the image that we want to see. It’s important that the youth have mentors that look like them,” Donaldson explains.
As a political science major with minors in civic leadership and legal studies, Donaldson studied several areas of American and world politics. Donaldson has a passion for service and an aptitude for excellence, and, equipped with her tools for success while attending classes at Indiana State, she was able to balance her work schedule, a myriad of volunteer work, and remain active in many organizations.
“My professors were passionate about their work. Some of them were attorneys and they were transparent about what I could expect as an attorney. I received good advice, but I stayed true to myself and applied the advice that I found essential,” says Donaldson, who was also a member of Indiana State’s Student Government Association, Vice President of Indiana State’s political science club, and a campus resident advisor [RA].
Indiana State’s political science program is enhanced through internships, study abroad opportunities, and field study trips to Washington, D.C., and other politically relevant destinations. For example, Donaldson studied abroad in China. During that experience, she examined the environmental, cultural, political, and economic consequences of economic development in Shanghai, Inner Mongolia, Beijing, Shenyang, and Dalian.
“Studying abroad required me to develop more independent skills. I was in a foreign country, and I had to adapt to this new culture. I took everything in, and I learned more about international relations through my studies in China,” Donaldson explains.
Back in Terre Haute, and on Indiana State’s campus, Donaldson completed an on-campus internship with the Executive Director of Government Relations and University Communications. She assisted with outreach initiatives and attended legislative committee meetings. The internship also involved federal relations work, including monitoring assigned Education Committee hearings and tracking assigned issues.
“At Indiana State, you’re in a community that provides a platform for you to grow. I kept God first and continued to strive for success during my time as a Sycamore, and I knew I could accomplish anything with discipline and motivation,” Donaldson says.
Through this hard work and these learning experiences, Donaldson pursued her passion for law. Attorney Donaldson earned her Juris Doctorate from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, graduating Cum Laude. Donaldson is currently a staff attorney at Indiana State Boards Association.
As for her advice to current Sycamores wishing to pursue a career in law, Attorney Donaldson emphasizes the importance of communication. She says, “Communicate your future desires with your advisors and professors. You’ll receive advice, so navigate that advice and apply it as you see fit for your future. Always have a plan and if that plan does not work, rework a plan but remain true to your plan when hard times come. It will be worth it in the end. For me, I kept God first in my plan. I prayed and worked and worked and prayed. Be the version of the person you want to see in the future.”
Attorney Donaldson envisioned her future in her youth. It wasn’t an easy path, but through perseverance and commitment, she is living out her dream as an attorney. This proud alumna will be the first to tell you that the road to success begins with BLUE!