Student Profile: Brett Curtis ’18


By Laura Hoxworth

Brett is a fourth-year double major in Youth and Social Innovation and Government, with a minor in History. Born and raised in Miami, FL, Brett is also a student council representative, president of the University Democrats, and captain of UVA’s Quidditch team.

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In high school, Brett dreamed of going to college somewhere “different and far away from home.” He visited dozens of schools up and down the East Coast during the college application process – except for UVA. When he showed up for his first-year orientation, it was the first time he had ever set foot on Grounds.

“I really wanted a beautiful campus, I really wanted ACC sports, I wanted to live the college experience and still have access to a nice city, and I wanted classes that would allow me to pursue both my political policy and education interests,” he explained. Luckily, UVA was the perfect fit.

If there’s one thing to know about Brett, it’s his drive to make a difference in the world. While he was always interested in education, his focus on policy led him to enroll in the Batten School of Public Policy’s 5-year accelerated Master of Public Policy program, which he is on track to finish in 2019. The Curry School wasn’t on his radar – at first.

However, the more he learned about education policy, the more Brett realized how Curry’s emphasis on classroom experience could help him truly understand the field of education and ultimately reach his career goals. “You have to have a hands-on background,” he said, “and that doesn’t exist through policy alone. There’s so much crossover that’s necessary.”

Outside of his coursework, Brett has kept himself busy at UVA. He has served on UVA’s Student Council as Chair of the Representative Body, led two Alternative Spring Break trips doing community service projects across the country, and worked as a peer advisor – plus, he’s the captain of the UVA Quidditch team. (He’s a beater.) He's also the president of the University Democrats and a passionate advocate for the millennial voice in politics. “My big priority is civic engagement,” he said. “I will tell everybody over and over again: I don’t care who you vote for, as long as you vote.”

Brett’s interest in government and policy clearly hasn’t waned, but his appreciation for the complexity of education has grown exponentially. During his time at Curry, he took classes in statistics and education psychology, tutored and volunteered in classrooms every week, conducted his own research, and learned how to examine the effectiveness of programs and policies. He’s grateful to his experience at Curry for widening his lens, allowing him to see the education world from a variety of angles.

“I was always under the impression that I could make recommendations, or be on the outside looking in, in terms of education policy – until I got to Curry,” he said. “I think that’s what Curry has given me more than anything – that foundational basis for recognizing what actually happens for education to work.”