Meet some of our inspiring faculty and staff and learn what Black History Month and this year’s theme of Black health and wellness through the arts means to them.

BRANDON THORNTON

Brandon Thornton

Brandon Thornton is an ACC Mathematics Professor and has worked at the college for six years.

What are some personal or professional accomplishments you are most proud of?  
Becoming the first male in my family to graduate from community college, undergrad, and graduate school. Traveling the country and performing spoken word at over 100 colleges and universities.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned? 
If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. 

Why do you believe it’s important for the college to commemorate Black History Month?
Celebrating Black History Month is important because ACC embraces diversity and inclusion. Black Americans have contributed greatly to our society and many have done these great things against the odds of racism and lack of opportunities.

How do you believe the arts and artistic expression have helped generations share the stories and experiences of the black community?
Black Americans have been at the forefront of culture and arts in America. Jazz, rock, art and design, hip-hop, R&B, poetry, literature, and comedy — these art forms have been impacted by Black Americans greatly. For many years Black Americans could not participate fully in many parts of society because of racism, so the arts were a consistent outlet for expression and fellowship. Even to this day, these artistic expressions are crucial for cultural healing and wellness in the Black community.

What inspires you? 
I am inspired every day by the students, my fellow colleagues, and the administration at ACC. The culture at ACC is one of diversity, inclusion, academic excellence, and access to a quality education for all. ACC allows Black Americans (and all ethnicities and races) a chance to pursue their dreams through education.


Shaunyale Canada

Shaunyale Canada is an academic success manager who works at the South Austin Campus. She has worked at ACC for more than 8 years, previously serving as a recruiting advising specialist.

What are some personal or professional accomplishments you are most proud of? 
A personal accomplishment I am proud of is that me and my twin sister are the first in our family to graduate from college and go on to pursue graduate studies. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned? 
Boundaries are healthy, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Why do you believe it’s important for the college to commemorate Black History Month? 
To spotlight and celebrate the achievements and truly unique experiences of Black Americans that helped impact and shape American history.

Shaunyale Canada

How do you believe the arts and artistic expression have helped generations share the stories and experiences of the Black community? 
Artistic expression is steeped in the shared histories and experiences of the Black community across the African diaspora. The use of artistic means of expression through music, dance, literature, and visual arts to tell our stories has been evident for generations from sorrow songs of enslaved Africans to the blues and jazz, the artistic revolution of the Harlem Renaissance to the protest and revolutionary songs and art of the 1960s to now.

If you could expose others in the community to a Black artist, who would you recommend and why? 
Langston Hughes was the first Black poet I learned about in school. As one of the stand-out creatives of the Harlem Renaissance, his poems helped shape American literature and politics through the lens of the Black experience, which remains relevant today.

What inspires you? 
Serving others.


Candice Brown

Candice Brown

Candice Brown is a Student Life supervisor for the North Region campuses and the Riverbat Success Programming area. Prior to this position, she was a Student Life coordinator overseeing the First-Year Experience Program, Chancellor’s Student Achievement Award, and the Male Leadership Program. She started working at ACC about a decade ago as an hourly employee working with the Student Rights & Responsibilities Committee.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned? 
Rest is necessary when championing change. I remain cognizant of conversations that I have had with community leaders, colleagues, and students about taking the appropriate actions for the betterment of their communities while balancing the need for rest and restoration of self. We MUST identify when it is time to rest. After all, rest is a revolutionary act for Black communities. The weight is heavy and revisiting traumas, directly and indirectly, as a citizen of the world can cause external and internal struggle. The need for Black joy and rest from tireless fighting plays a pivotal role in being able to carry forward movements for change. Find a community of support that will remind and affirm you when it’s time to look inward and around for the joy you need that will serve as the hope for what battles are ahead.

What are some personal or professional accomplishments you are most proud of? 
Completing ACC’s Supervisor Certification Series Program in 2017 was one of the most professionally enriching experiences I have had while at ACC. The program prepared me for my current position and gave me the confidence and tools required to serve employees and students from a lens of empathetic leadership. Each day I come to work fired up to advocate on behalf of students’ holistic development and success. The collaborations that the Student Life department fosters have an overarching objective to enhance the student experience through our innovative, intentional, and engaging co-curricular programs. These initiatives provide students with resources to build community and foster a sense of belonging, all while meeting their most basic needs as they navigate rigorous academic responsibilities, life’s many shifts, challenges, and triumphs. I am overwhelmingly proud to be a part of the larger vision for student success that ACC and the Office of Student Life have set forth.

Why do you believe it’s important for the college to commemorate Black History Month? 
Austin Community College is the community’s college and serves as a beacon for the future of Central Texas. The profound journeys, achievements, and contributions of Black culture on the world are more than enough reason for the college to ensure that this season is commemorated, not just during the month of February, but every day. We serve constituents from all walks of life, with multiple identities, and as we continue our efforts to become a more equitable institution, we absolutely need to ensure that those identity groups are represented, served well, and highlighted on a continued basis.

How do you believe the arts and artistic expression have helped generations share the stories and experiences of the Black community?
Art is our own — it’s in the hands of those that work intently on expressing themselves through their talent, it’s in the eyes of those that are privileged to behold it, and it’s in the future of the generations that have yet to discover its wonder and assign their own meaning to it for their lives. Artistic expression can be whatever you want it to be, but it is ALWAYS raw and emotional, ripples with life’s joys and sorrows, and it is the inspiration that grounds us and reminds us to slow down, be deliberate, and take action. Art preserves moments in time, allowing us the ability to share and reflect with generations past and future. The past few years have been difficult for multiple reasons, but it has also been rewarding to support, initiate, and champion movements for change, non-performative allyship, raise awareness for injustice, unfair treatment, and fight for systemic change on all levels for Black communities.

If you could expose others in the community to a Black artist, who would you recommend and why?
There are so many beautifully gifted Black artists that I would recommend, but one of the Black creatives that I am most enthusiastic about as of late is Issa Rae. My good, good friend Issa (she is not really my friend, but if I had the chance to meet her I think we would be) is an actor, writer, and producer, most infamously known in my household for her brilliant talent displayed on the HBO series “Insecure.” Issa’s storytelling works to uplift Black voices and experiences — celebrating the victories, agonizing over the losses and sorrows, and ultimately rising each day despite the obstacles presented. Her art and partnerships in the community serve as an inspiration to Black people to live their lives boldly, with passion & integrity. Need I say more!?

What inspires you?
I find new inspiration along my journey each day; whether that’s through a thought-provoking conversation with a family member, student, or colleague, or through the bright eyes of my curious almost-1-year-old niece. In general, people’s individual stories and journeys inspire me to be present, fulfill my life’s calling of service to others, and take on battles to advocate for what is right and deserved for all with conviction and vigor.


Jay McCullar

Jay McCullar is an adjunct professor in ACC’s Student Development & Humanities Departments. He has been at ACC for 12 years and has previously been a supervisor for Enrollment Management and Student Life and a coordinator for Men of Distinction Program.

What are some personal or professional accomplishments you are most proud of?
Professionally, I am most proud of the impact that I have had on so many lives during my tenure at ACC. I see so many students I have supported over the years in the community thriving and doing so well. It really brings me joy.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned?
Even though it sounds cliche, hard work pays off. I’ve never regretted putting in the work necessary to achieve a personal or professional goal.

Jay McCullar

Why do you believe it’s important for the college to commemorate Black History Month? 
I believe it is important for not just the college, but everyone to commemorate and celebrate the history of Black people. Black people historically have made great contributions to the global society we all live in. I am pleased that the college is making intentional efforts to recognize these great contributions. My hope and desire is to see yearlong efforts to celebrate Black people from past, current, and future.

How do you believe the arts and artistic expression have helped generations share the stories and experiences of the Black community? 
Health and wellness are very important, especially in communities of color. I teach humanities, and within humanities there are opportunities to discuss art and the community. So many Black people from our history were not afforded opportunities to be trained classically or allowed to study their crafts at a high level. They were self-taught in their discipline and were able to make some great contributions to art and the community. That speaks volumes. Art affords people an opportunity to express themselves on so many different levels. I think we as a community should not only reflect on the pain and suffrage many Black people wrongfully endured, but find joy in what was created and built with so little. Black people are creative, resilient, inspirational, talented, and just overall beautiful.

If you could expose others in the community to a Black artist, who would you recommend and why? 
Jean-Michel Basquiat is an artist that I believe should receive more flowers for his contribution to the art community. He was truly a “renaissance” man and well ahead of his time. He has been referenced a lot in the hip-hop community through videos and songs, but the overall art community doesn’t always acknowledge his work.

What inspires you? 
My family, friends, and community inspire me. I am sitting on the shoulders of my ancestors and I am a firm believer that I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams. When I am tired or unmotivated, I think about my family, my friends, and my community. My story has so many twists and turns, but here I am with the opportunity to help mold and shape future generations through education. The same education that was not afforded to many of my ancestors.


More profiles coming soon.

If you would like to nominate an ACC employee or student to be featured, email victoria.garza@austincc.edu.