Getting Social with Stephan Brown ’17
by Stephen K. Thomas ’14
Although he didn’t even start thinking about going to college until March of his senior year, it didn’t take long for Stephan Brown ’17 to discover Albright. Once on campus, he made great use of his time — and Albright’s resources, which led to securing his unique digital niche.
Initially pursuing computer science, Brown soon realized that his love for technology was more creative than technical. So his advisor, Daniel Falabella, Ph.D., pointed him in the direction of the newly established digital communications major. “Digital communications was the creative side of technology that I was looking for,” reflects Brown.
After getting the lay of the land in his first year, Brown set his eyes on meeting new people and learning about other countries and cultures. He credits Kim Justeson, director of the Experiential Learning and Career Development Center (ELCDC), with helping him discover a study abroad experience and secure funding to travel to Cyprus. “I was the only Albright student looking at the Cyprus trip and I was okay with that as I wanted to have my own story to tell,” Stephan explains. “I applied for study aboard scholarships and just waited. I was starting to panic as it was only weeks away and funding was still up in the air.”
In early December, Brown learned that he was the recipient of multiple Albright scholarships, including the Gilman International Study Abroad Scholarship, which focuses on helping students of color or financial limitations to study abroad. The funding allowed him to visit a total of 11 countries in six months, beginning that spring.
“My study abroad experience catapulted me to reach for other opportunities,” says Brown, who returned to Albright as an ELCDC advocate, helping peers to see the value in studying abroad.
After studying abroad, the ELCDC helped Brown to connect with alumnus Brent Hurley ’01, a West Coast resident and founding team member of YouTube. “Brent was so helpful!” remembers Brown. “We talked about the tech world and my interests. He gave me the motivation to apply for openings out West.”
Brown first landed a social media internship with gaming development company Kabam, where he created a social media campaign for a Disney-related game. His campaign was used in part of a comprehensive stakeholder presentation by the company’s CEO. “It was so cool to see my research and data being used to help build a case for this new game,” says Brown.
After graduating, Brown headed to Portland, Oregon, for a media planning internship with Mindshare — a global media agency where he helped Facebook and Nike to develop new campaigns. Although he was hired full time after the internship, Brown kept his options open — eventually applying to the up-and-coming video-sharing giant, TikTok.
Hired as a growth strategist, Brown found success in recruiting both musical artists, such as singer-songwriter Alex Chambers, and individuals, like a quirky orthodontist now called “The Bentist,” to join the app. Chambers’s first TikTok video went viral and reached 10 million views in only 24 hours. The Bentist, who posts educational dental content, boasts over seven million followers.
Connecting TikTok’s people in a meaningful way, Brown also assisted in putting together the company’s first summit for Black creators in order to provide timely resources and support to do well on the app.
Constant achievements helped Brown to land a position as a partner/manager for Patreon — a membership-based platform that provides tools for creators to run a subscription service in order to earn a monthly income for the content they post. “In this role, I’m seen as a manager, best friend and sometimes a therapist,” chuckles Brown. “I help creators grow their channels to all demographics, so they can reap the benefits of the content they post.”
Today, Brown continues to keep up with ever-evolving trends and take every opportunity to help other creators better themselves. So recently, he joined Albright’s Society of Black Alumni to become a resource for current students. And somehow, he still finds time to make new friends and learn about other cultures through travel. Follow his adventures on Instagram @epic_steff.