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Guided by Faith: Brighten's Inspiring Journey to Graduation with a Public Health Degree

Young Woman in graduation cap and gown in front of a BYU building marker.
Brigthen Crawford-Martin

In a remarkable achievement AKA intern and associate, Brighten, who is Assiniboine & Sioux from the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in MT and a first-generation college student, has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from Brigham Young University- Idaho. This milestone not only marks the culmination of years of hard work and perseverance but also the beginning of a promising career in a field crucial to the well-being of communities everywhere. Central to Brighten’s journey has been her deep spirituality and religious faith, which have guided and sustained her throughout her academic pursuits.

Brighten’s path to earning her degree was far from straightforward. She initially embarked on her college journey with much hope and uncertainty. Her first two years of college she faced significant mental health challenges. Despite her determination, these mental health challenges became overwhelming, leading her to step away from her studies.

After two and a half years, Brighten felt a renewed calling to return to school. Although she initially hesitated due to her previous experiences. She confided in a friend and after weeks of discussion Brighten gained confidence and strength from her friend and intentionally chose to pursue public health. During our discussion, Brighten explained that her choice to return to school was not guided by the degree itself, but rather she felt this path would empower her with the tools she needed to make a positive impact in the lives of others.

Leaving behind friends and family to pursue her education was a difficult decision for Brighten, but she had confidence that her perseverance would inspire others to pursue their education.

Young woman in cap and gown standing next to a young man in suit and tie.
Brighten and her husband, Kaden.

During her studies, she met her husband and his family, who became an essential part of her support system. Balancing schoolwork, multiple jobs, and personal responsibilities was extremely challenging. Yet, Brighten’s unwavering faith in the Creator’s promise to help her through school kept her motivated and resilient. During moments when she felt discouraged and exhausted, she would motivate herself by dedicating her study sessions to her siblings, in hopes they would be inspired by her example. Soon after returning to school, Brighten had the privilege of helping her sister navigate college, and just a month after Brighten’s graduation she celebrated as her dad and two older brothers graduated with their associates degree from Fort Peck Community College.

Throughout her time at BYU-I Brighten mentored first-generation college students, and other disadvantaged students.

“When I first started college,” Brighten explained, “I had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t feel like I belonged. But I stayed and I kept trying, knowing that the space I created would eventually be occupied by those like me. That is what my ancestors did for me.”

Throughout her journey, Brighten worked to make others feel included. Her spiritual journey helped her recognize her inherent good and value, allowing her to empathize deeply with others’ experiences. This empathy is central to her work in public health, where she strives to understand and address the needs of diverse communities. She believes that everyone is created in the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

Brighten and Brother Tyler Watson

Brighten is passionate about addressing the history of oppression and marginalization in the United States. She emphasizes the importance of kindness, acceptance, and celebration of all individuals. For Brighten, recognizing and actively removing negative forces that impede progress towards a more just and equitable society is crucial. Her faith drives her to advocate for justice and equity, reflecting the biblical principles of love and compassion.

In discussions about public health, Brighten highlights the importance of creating space for everyone to be seen, heard, and celebrated. She stresses the need to address injustices and empower marginalized individuals to create spaces for themselves and others. Her insights and commitment to these principles are both insightful and inspiring. Brighten's work is a testament to her belief that faith without works is dead, and she is dedicated to making a tangible difference in the lives of others.

Brighten and her family.

 Brighten’s graduation is a proud moment not just for her but also for her family, friends, Indigenous community, and the entire AKA community. Her journey serves as an inspiration to current and future students who aspire to make a difference in public health, demonstrating the powerful intersection of faith and professional dedication.

As she embarks on this new chapter, Brighten’s passion, dedication, and vision for a healthier future will undoubtedly lead her to make significant contributions to the field of public health. We look forward to seeing all the remarkable achievements that lie ahead for this bright and promising young professional.

Congratulations, Brighten, on your well-deserved success, and may your faith continue to guide you in all your endeavors!



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