Learning About Something You Love

When Brenna Macnamara started her first semester at Millsaps College, she ended up in two classes that she credits for helping her become the student and scholar she is today.

The first was an upper-level political science class taught by recently retired Dr. Iren Omo-Bare; the fact that Macnamara was a first-year student didn’t stop her desire to learn or Omo-Bare’s desire to teach. “He taught me how to think differently, ask all sorts of questions and never be afraid of a debate and stand up for my views,” recalled Macnamara. “Arguing politics against upperclassmen is a scary thing to take on, but he never let me back down.”

An introductory English class under Dr. Eric Griffin, Janice B. Trimble professor and chair of the English department, reinvigorated Macnamara’s middle school love for literature. “After that class, I was completely hooked on literary analysis,” Macnamara said.

Given the influence of these two professors, it’s no surprise Macnamara will be graduating in May 2021 with double majors in government and politics and English.

“Both of these professors will always stand out to me in my college career because they truly helped me become the headstrong student I am today and reminded me that learning is not work when it’s learning about something you love,” she said.

Macnamara didn’t hesitate to put that learning to practical use during her time at Millsaps. In her first year, she campaigned for the Student Body Association (SBA) with the winning campaign slogan of “Brenna the Winna for Freshamen Senata.” Three years later, she built on that experience to craft a winning campaign for the SBA presidency.

Outside the classroom, Macnamara has been active in state, local and national politics. She has worked with the Mississippi Democratic Party as an intern and in recent months as part of their Voter Protection Team. In her junior year, she served as a Davis Democracy Fellow, working directly with Common Cause to increase voter registration and voter turnout on the Millsaps campus.

“Brenna embodies the spirit of Millsaps College,” said Dr. Nathan Shrader, associate professor of government and politics. “She is passionate about scholarship, dedicates herself to causes larger than herself and cares deeply about the people around her.”

Now, in her senior year, she has been hired as a Fellow for the Progressive Turnout Program for the coordinated Mississippi campaigns of Democratic nominee Joe Biden and U.S. Senate candidate Mike Espy. Macnamara will be working to directly encourage and increase voter turnout, as well as serving as a field organizer for the 3rd congressional district.

As active and busy as Macnamara has been during her time at Millsaps, she’s always looking ahead.

“After graduation, I plan to go to either law school or into the Peace Corps,” she said. “I hope to one day go into family law and work to place greater protections in our legal system regarding abuse and more. All I can hope is that one day in the future I will be doing something to help people.”

But for now, Macnamara is also taking time to reflect on her time at Millsaps.

“There are too many moments and too many people who I could give credit to for helping me become the persona and leader I am today. The friends that believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. The chats over coffee with professors who shared their passions with me. It’s the people at Millsaps that make your journey and time here most impactful. They help you discover who you are.”


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