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Why We Soar: Inclusive community

Why We Soar: Inclusive community

Alayna Yates ’24 June 07, 2024

As soon as I visited the campus, I fell in love,” said Brandon Salas ’11 of his first tour of UD as a high schooler. Today, Salas continues to show his love by volunteering and helping spread the Flyer zeal in his new hometown through the Nashville Alumni Community.

Raised in Louisville, Salas is the son of a Mexican immigrant and is the first college graduate in his family. He values education and equity, and said he was drawn to UD’s biology major and Minorities in STEM program. 

Brandon Salas
Brandon Salas ’11

Still possessing a deep passion for STEM and diversity efforts, Salas is a Front Porch Society member, having given for the past five consecutive fiscal years including to the Multi-Ethnic Engineers Fund. As a student, Salas became a counselor for the Minorities in STEM program led by Laura Bistrek ’97 (now called the Multi-Ethnic STEM Summer Bridge Program), where STEM students come to campus for a week in the summer before their first year. 

He described how the program benefits first-year students: “You already know what to do, where to go and you don’t have to feel so much like an outsider, but as someone who can lead others,” Salas said. “That [program] has been a game changer.”

“As soon as I visited the campus, I fell in love.”

Living within a three- to five-hour drive from UD for most of his life, Salas said he enjoys being able to stay close to the campus he loves. For a brief period though, Salas was living in Boston with his now husband. Further from campus than he preferred to be, he found himself feeling disconnected. So, he got involved with day10, a committee of alumni within 10 years of graduation who advise young alumni engagement and philanthropy.

“I started going to more of the alumni community meetups, game watches, and it was just a good way to stay connected,” Salas said. “I worked on a couple committees with day10 ... it was kind of parallel to my recruitment responsibilities for my real job. It felt natural.” 

Providing opportunities for engagement through volunteering is one of the goals of the We Soar campaign. Continuing to embody the University’s values of engagement and volunteerism, Salas now serves as the career development chair on the Nashville Alumni Community leadership team. 

Salas volunteers throughout the Nashville area, creating community wherever he can. “UD instills a sense of community, and I feel like it’s a responsibility that if you’ve been instilled with this kind of community, it’s your job to create the community around you and give back to it or make your own,” Salas said.

“[I]t’s your job to create the community around you and give back to it or make your own.”

He works as the talent acquisition manager at Gresham Smith, an architecture, engineering and interior design firm based in Nashville. At his company, Salas was the founding member of its LGBTQ+ employee resource group and belongs to The Table, an advisory committee dedicated to connecting minority nonprofit and small-business owners with for-profit businesses to help fund their entrepreneurial endeavors. 

Beyond that, he’s involved with his company’s partnership and volunteer efforts with United Way. Salas also volunteers with the Tennessee Pride Chamber of Commerce and Nashville LAUNCHPAD, an LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirming shelter for homeless youth.  

Salas’ altruism is a trait he said he developed at UD. “That servant-leadership has always been top of mind at UD, and they really instilled [in me] the importance of getting to know your community and being inclusive,” Salas said.

photo courtesy Brandon Salas