Otis College Class of 2023 Valedictorian Reanna Brown

Brown and fellow Academic Achievement Award Recipients set the bar high for the future of art and design.

Reanna Brown, a Product Design senior originally from Kingston, Jamaica, was recently announced as Valedictorian for Otis College’s Class of 2023. She will give an address during the Commencement ceremony that will cap Otis’s O-Launch weekend on Sunday, May 14, 2023. 

The Valedictory Award is bestowed annually on the senior class member who represents the pinnacle of academic excellence at Otis College. Brown was chosen for her stellar academic performance throughout her college career and the exceptional quality of her work. Growing up Brown was taught to see the beauty in nature, culture, and humanity. Art and design are a significant part of her heritage, and she learned to prioritize and embrace creativity. After joining the Otis Community, she discovered her passion for product design and has since focused on creating meaningful, environmentally conscious designs, primarily in furniture and lighting. 

“When I first came to Otis, I never would have imagined leaving on this note. I thought back to my first week and how nervous I felt as someone coming from a different country, having left home to come and live here without all of the people I grew up with by my side,” Brown says. “Receiving this award means so much to me because I know that I have been chosen from a graduating class of extraordinary talent and leadership in art and design.”

“Reanna is one of those students whose college experience and community work show us that knowledge and skills are not enough,” says Product Design Chair Steve McAdam. “Instead, it’s the capacity to do something with that knowledge and those skills. I look forward to seeing where Reanna’s future takes her or, should I say, where Reanna takes her future.”

Though Reanna won’t reveal the advice she’ll be giving to her graduating class during her valedictory speech–we’ll have to tune-in to the Commencement ceremony livestream at noon on Sunday, May 14 for that—she did have some wise words for the Otis College students who are just starting on their college journeys: “Don’t worry too much. It’s human to be nervous or anxious before embarking on a new journey in an unfamiliar place—especially if this will be your first time on your own. However, this is also such an exciting time in your life. You’ll discover so much and experience things that will build you in amazing ways! It’s okay to be a little afraid, but also be super excited, because this part of life is exciting. Things often fall into place if you take responsibility for your success, be open, be kind, and accept help.”

The following Academic Achievement Award recipients also were recently announced: 

  • Eliza Whipple, Communication Arts with an emphasis in Graphic Design
  • Alyssa Rodriguez, Communication Arts with an emphasis in Illustration
  • Jamila Koch, Digital Media with an emphasis in Animation
  • Monyo Chhe, Digital Media with an emphasis in Game & Entertainment Design 
  • Daycie DeLuz, Digital Media with an emphasis in Motion Design
  • Ashley Khalil, Environmental Design
  • Sabrina Thomas, Fashion Design
  • Suni Mullen, Fine Arts with an emphasis in Painting
  • Lou Stewart, Fine Arts with an emphasis in Photography
  • Dayna McFarlane, Fine Arts with an emphasis in Sculpture/New Genres
  • Reanna Brown, Product Design 
  • Megan Schroeder, Toy Design
  • Joseph Sherman, MFA Fine Art
  • Lia Kim, MFA Graphic Design

The Academic Excellence Award is the highest honor given to graduating students in a major program. Selections are made by program leaders and faculty; criteria include a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher (for undergraduates), quality of work, personal character, and contributions to Otis College and the larger community.

This year’s honorary degree recipients include entertainment executive Miky Lee and architect Kulapat Yantrasast, both of whom will give remarks during the Commencement ceremony, which will be livestreamed on Otis.edu and on YouTube starting at 11:45 a.m. on May 14. Commencement is part of O-Launch, a culminating event that includes a campus-wide exhibition of work by graduating BFA and MFA degree candidates, as well as a fashion show and student ceramic art sale, among other events. More information about O-Launch can be found at otis.edu/olaunch.

Main image: Photograph by Jack Proctor/Otis College of Art and Design

Watch Reanna Brown’s Valedictory Speech below: