Santarvis Brown: Impacting and Influencing Positive Social Change for Greater Good

Santarvis Brown, Department Chair at the Graduate School of Business, Excelsior University, stands as a shining example of how an educator can change the lives of students. Throughout his career, he has influenced the next generation, positively impacting the life of every student he has come into contact with. His ultimate goal is to continue to be in a place and position where he can continue to impact and influence positive social change for the greater good.

In his career spanning over 20 years, Santarvis has received numerous prestigious awards in the education space. In 2021, he was honored as one of the top 100 global leaders in the field of education, and in 2023, the International Association of Top Professionals (IAOTP) bestowed him with the “Educator of the Year” award, recognizing his outstanding leadership, dedication, and commitment to the industry. The recognition that he values the most is not an official award, but it came from one of his students. In 2023, a former student reached out to Santarvis, asking him to write her a letter of recommendation for an administrative position. “In the bottom of her email, she wrote, ‘I would not be a teacher today if it wasn’t for you’,” Santarvis shares. Her words mean the most to him, and they also highlight his passion for making a difference in the lives of his students.

Lasting Imprint and Impact

Santarvis holds a doctorate in educational administration, and a Juris Doctorate. His journey as an educator began as a middle school teacher in 2003. “Since that time, I have been privileged to serve in various leadership positions in the education space,” he says. “All have been fueled by my desire to make an impact and imprint.”

One sometimes does not measure success realistically in today’s world, according to Santarvis.   For him, success is leaving a lasting imprint and impact on the world. He wakes up every morning with the desire to leave the world and its people better than he found them. He strives to do that through his faith, service, unwavering commitment to education, and vision-driven leadership.

Santarvis has positively influenced countless students. He says that he can observe success every time he runs into his former students as he sees them shining and thriving. Some of his former students now work as teachers and administrators in the K-12 space.  “I even had the honor of being next door to a former student as we both taught on the collegiate level,” Santarvis shares. “He even let me borrow a dry erase board marker.”

Challenges Define One’s Character

Santarvis believes that challenges not only make one stronger but also help define one’s character. This belief stems from his own experience. “As I look back over my journey, I would take away none of the challenges that I have had,” he says. “They helped make me into the man that I am today.” A major roadblock that taught him the value of perseverance occurred even before his career began, during his undergraduate years.

Santarvis reveals that he has historically struggled with math, a subject that has always brought him anxiety. When he was at Florida Memorial University, he took a developmental math class. He excelled in his homework assignments, scoring an A on every assignment, but his tests were a different story. “I would always fail the test due to my anxiety,” Santarvis says. But he still would always go whenever there was a need for someone to go to the board to solve a problem. He would do this despite knowing that his answer would be wrong.

Santarvis recalls one day, his professor, Dr. Huston Usry – who helped him become the educator he is today – saying, “something has to be said for the man who goes to the board with a wrong answer.” He would go to the professor’s office every day for help, so much that it became a routine. He even tried to go after the final exam, and his professor told him, “Brown it is all right, let it go.”

“I ended up with a B in the class, and it bothered me the entire break,” Santarvis remembers.  So, the next semester, he asked his professor if he made a mistake on his grade. He said, “No,” and told him that he respected him for coming to the board, knowing that his answer was wrong. He further said, “Always remember you will never master everything in life, but the only time you fail is when you don’t try.” Santarvis has kept that philosophy when dealing with his students at all levels.

“This example showed me the value of a motivating educator who literally can change the lives of every student you come into contact with,” he says.

Speak the Right Language

Santarvis fears that leaders sometimes don’t do enough to make an influential impact on the next generation of leaders.  It frustrates him when he hears that the next generation is not open to mentoring and development.

“I think we just have to make sure we are speaking the right language,” he says. “As I reflect upon the mentors and influential people who left a major impact on my life, they did so by meeting me where I was and helping me realize I could do and be more.”

Work-Life Balance

Santarvis is one of those leaders who does not struggle to maintain a work-life balance. He finds it easy to find a balance because he is working and operating in a field where he can be driven by his passion and purpose.

“Over the years, I have also found the value of self-care and learning the importance of setting boundaries,” he says. “It is impossible to pour into others from an empty pitcher.”

Message to Aspiring Leaders

In his message to aspiring leaders in the education industry, Santarvis tells them to move from an aspiring educational leader to an inspiring educational leader. He also advises them to “never give up” and “never think your efforts are in vain. “It may take you some time to see the results of the seeds you sow,” he says. To stress his point, he quotes his favorite scripture, “Now, therefore, my beloved, be ye steadfast, unmovable always abounding in the work of the Lord, for your labor is not in vain.”