Salve Success: Brianna Easton ’21, social work major
If someone walks down the wing that houses the Department of Social Work in O’Hare, they will come across a display where Brianna Easton ’21, a social work major, is selling handmade face masks. Sewing face masks during a pandemic is one small way that Easton has showcased her passionate commitment to helping others, both in her future career as a social worker and on Salve Regina’s campus.
Falling in love with Salve Regina and social work
Easton first learned about Salve Regina during her sophomore year of high school when her older sister was touring colleges. Although young, she was fascinated by the University, and she loved the fact it was close to home with a stunning campus. Easton joined Salve Regina as an education major, but she transferred into the social work department her sophomore year.
“I like being with kids, but realized I didn’t want to be a teacher, so I began looking at other options,” explained Easton. “My mom is a teacher, and one of her friends is a social worker at her school. So I talked to her about it, and it seemed really interesting.”
What Easton has loved most about the social work major at Salve Regina is the extensive real-world experience she is required to undergo as a junior and senior. “I like being in my internship,” Easton described. “For both junior and senior year, you can go out to different organizations and work with different clients.”
During her junior year, Easton has found a lot of joy working with children ranging from ages three through 12 at the elementary school in East Greenwich. Easton mentored the kids, helping them with schoolwork and anything else going on in their lives. For her senior year placement, she is at Child and Family Services of Newport.
“I am working in the family stabilization unit. I work with a few different clients right now who are between the ages of 13 and 18,” said Easton. “Each family is different, and they all have their own struggles. It is tough to witness that a child is not having a good time at home. Helping them is important, and I want to make sure they feel safe.”
Serving others through advocacy and sewing
The passion brewing in Easton to help people goes beyond her work as a social work major. Easton has been involved with the Best Buddies club since her sophomore year, a club that works to build friendships with members of the community who have intellectual and developmental disabilities and that recently won an Outstanding College Chapter for the State of Rhode Island award. Easton has been developing a strong bond with her buddy Michael for three years, who she says is very talented at playing the piano.
“I like to be involved and think that inclusion is really important,” she added.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Easton’s lending hands doubled as sewing hands. “I had a sewing machine at home just sitting in the basement collecting dust,” said Easton. “When they were talking about wearing masks and how important they are, I realized I could make them. I started making them for friends and family before realizing I could sell them on campus.”
One hundred percent of the proceeds Easton earns will be donated to organizations in Newport like Lucy’s Hearth, the homeless shelter, and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center. Motivated by the desire to help these organizations, Easton was able to make over 50 masks during the summer. She plans on making more this fall with autumn themed fabric. Each mask takes her around 15 minutes, and she sells them for 10 dollars. The masks are being sold through the Social Work Club, which Easton has been a part of for three years and is now on the executive board as the secretary.
After graduation, Easton plans to work full time while going to graduate school in pursuit of her master’s degree in social work. No matter where she ends up, Easton will always be a great representation of the entire Department of Social Work at Salve Regina—using her passion for helping others in ways that will reach out far beyond her time on campus.
Article by student writer Samantha Tarbox ’22
Salve Success is a series of student success stories periodically featured on SALVEtoday. Check out the tag Salve Success for more stories.