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Brianna Yanga, a fashion design and merchandising major, is Dominican University’s recipient of the 2024 Dorothy Reiner Mulroy Award.

Since 1983, the award has recognized graduating seniors who have demonstrated outstanding academic ability and leadership during their years at Dominican.

For Yanga, leadership has taken the form of peer outreach and mentorship. She has served as president of the Black Student Union, as Peer LEADer and Transition Peer Mentor, student coordinator of The Village leadership development program for Black students, resident assistant and member of TRIO Student Support Services. Academically, she has been named to the Dean’s List and Honor Roll, with a cumulative grade point average above 3.5.

“I love Dominican,” Yanga said. “It feels so homey here and I have met so many people that really do care about me and care about my growth as a person.”

Yanga, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, discovered a passion for costume design after arriving at Dominican. She found a mentor in McKinley Johnson, fashion lecturer, who also works in professional costume design.

“I mentioned to him I was interested in costumes and this opened up a new world,” Yanga recalled. “I was able to pick his brain all the time, to see what he does and how he does it.”

With her bachelor’s degree in fashion design and fashion merchandising, Yanga has her sights set on a career in costume design and styling in the film industry. She’s already created costumes for a production of Dreamgirls at Dominican, and this spring, she co-directed the Fashion Department’s annual fashion show, which featured her collection inspired by public transportation called “Transit Opulence.” She's set to work with costumes on a Chicago play as well.

Outside the fashion department, Yanga also found community among Dominican’s Black Student Union, which has been working to create a safe, unique space on campus for Black students to come together.

“In the BSU, we can confide in one another and lift each other up,” she explained. “The walls are down and we can be who we want to be. It’s cool that I’ve been able to create relationships here and see other relationships created as well.”

Being a leader means becoming someone that others can view as a guide, Yanga says.

“I think of the leaders I have had and I want to embody that,” she said. “I see the traits I like in them and try to put those into my own life in the hope that it makes me a better leader.”