Posted April 15, 2014

Brittany Redfern: Experience and determination

Degree: BA, sociology, College of Liberal Arts

Ryan S. Brandenberg
Brittany Redfern gave birth to her son in October of her junior year, but was still able to earn her undergraduate degree in four years and gain admission to Widener University School of Law.

For her senior research project in sociology, Brittany Redfern set out to understand and bring awareness to barriers to breast feeding among low-income African-American women.

The idea for that research came from Joshua Klugman, assistant professor of sociology. Klugman encouraged Redfern to draw on her personal experience as a single mother to shed light on the poorly understood causes for socioeconomic and racial disparities in breast-feeding rates among women in the U.S.

A graduate of Philadelphia’s Central High School, Redfern learned she was pregnant as a sophomore at Temple and gave birth to her son in October of her junior year. But delivery did not stop her from earning her undergraduate degree in four years—nor did it keep her from gaining admission to Widener University School of Law, which she will begin attending in the fall.

Redfern is the first to admit she could not have done it without the network of support she found at Temple. That group includes an advisor who told her to stay in school, a professor who once allowed her to bring her son to a final exam and even an administrative assistant who let Redfern use the Department of Sociology’s fax machine to send an important document to her child’s pediatrician.

“My advisor, Rashidah Andrews, encouraged me to break down the stereotypes of young black mothers,” Redfern said. “When many said I should take a semester off, Rashidah pushed me forward and told me that a baby wouldn't stop me from going where I planned to be.”

She also credits Associate Professor of Sociology Mary Stricker, CLA ’96, ’01, with helping her find her voice. “Mary constantly reminded me that my thoughts are valid and that I should speak up, because I represent a group that deserves to be heard,” Redfern said.

“Those at Temple have taught me what a support system is,” she said. “They want to see you reach your dreams and won't stop helping you until you do.”