Double threat on court and in classroom
“I came here for engineering first and foremost.”
There’s never been a dull UB moment for Kourtney Brown. Standing 6 feet tall, Brown is a star athlete on the women’s basketball team, as her recent record-breaking 35-point scoring night against Miami of Ohio shows.
But Brown’s real excitement—that even outpaces the feeling of mastery she gets on the Alumni Arena basketball court—comes in the classroom. Her ability and passion for building and programming computers, as well as the electrical components that go along with it, are what really make her go.
Brown, one of two fifth-year seniors on the basketball team, is a dual major with a 3.3 grade-point average in computer science and engineering and electrical engineering. Her low-key, humble manner is a kind of a fake-out for the real story: If anyone illustrates the value and virtue of a UB scholar-athlete, it’s Kourtney Brown.
“I never thought of myself as an inspiration, but if I can do it, then you can do it, too,” says Brown, who will lead the Bulls into the Mid-American Conference Tournament this weekend. The Bulls will play Ball State in a first-round game at 7 p.m. Saturday in Alumni Arena. The winner will advance to the MAC quarterfinals March 9 in Cleveland.
Brown’s determination to succeed began early on in her schooling. While most kids in elementary school wanted to grow up to become firefighters or ballerinas, Brown wanted to become a rocket scientist.
However, after her first computer class at Solon High School in Ohio, about 30 miles from Cleveland, she became fascinated with the possibilities of the emerging world of information technology. Computer programming was particularly hard to resist.
Throughout her four years in high school, Brown thrived both on and off the court. After setting school records in basketball and leading the Solon Comets to the state championship game, Brown received the attention of colleges nationwide. UB recruited her as a senior, as did the University of Charleston, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, St. Bonaventure and the University of Toledo.
With her heart set on combining her passions of computer science, electrical engineering and basketball, Brown chose UB and its School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
“I came here for engineering first and foremost,” Brown says. “[UB has] one of the top programs in the U.S. Everyone is there to help you and make you the best engineer that you can be.”
Although Brown wants to be like the other 27,000 students that attend the university, it’s difficult to fade into the background when she’s breaking records. It was Brown’s 33 points and 16 rebounds against Central Michigan that made her UB’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, helping the Bulls to score 92 points—the most they have ever scored in a MAC game—and winning her the title of UB’s Athlete of the Week.
Brown’s performance on the Central Michigan court helped her break a university scoring record that has stood since 1997, and a rebound record that has remained for 30 years. She now stands at 1,810 points and 1,050 rebounds. Brown is first in the MAC in scoring, rebounding, field-goal percentage, blocked shots and offensive rebounds, according to UB Athletics.
For her outstanding efforts this season, Brown was honored as MAC Scholar Athlete of the Week, an award given to a student-athlete with a grade-point average of at least 3.0 and a strong performance during the week’s competition.
But Brown’s accomplishments don’t stop there. Last year, she was the second UB student-athlete to receive All-MAC First-Team Honors. She also earned Academic All-Mac Recognition for her second-consecutive season, was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year and managed to set record highs for her career, the university and the conference.
She might get her name recognition from basketball, but Brown is much more than a record-breaking player. She earned a Daniel Acker Scholarship for academics and recently received the SUNY Chancellor’s Scholar-Athlete Award, a prestigious distinction reserved for student-athletes who excel in both academics and athletics.
Brown works hard and plays even harder to maintain her status as a student-athlete. Her schedule is a carefully crafted work-in-progress, guiding her through each day and allowing her to balance both school and basketball.
“It takes a lot of planning. I write up a schedule the night before to make sure I stay on top of stuff,” Brown says. “[In one day] I go to classes, lab to work on projects, then practice, then back to lab, then find time to eat and sleep.”
Balancing the demands of basketball and the demands of her major is difficult. Brown remembers her early struggles of completing freshman and sophomore engineering classes, and all the late nights spent studying and playing catch-up. However, she has a strong support system at home. Brown’s Ohio roots—her parents Kalvin and Kim, and siblings Kalvin Jr. and Brandie—remain very important.
“My parents expected a lot of me when I was younger, and they expected me to be the best I can be,” Brown says. “Now, I’m just feeding off of it. I really want to be the best I can be for both them and my family.”
Looking back on her time at UB, Brown has nothing but positive sentiments and good memories to carry her through to life beyond the university’s walls. She views the years spent in Buffalo as an important chapter of her life, and one that she’s sad to say goodbye to.
“I’m happy that UB has given me the tools that I need to be successful with the next part of my life. I’m going to miss it. It’s been a big part of my life for the last five years.”
Brown admits that she isn’t through with basketball just yet. After graduating in May, she hopes to travel overseas to play on an international team. However, Brown is not one to stop at a bachelor’s degree. This scholar wants to go back to school to obtain her PhD in computer engineering.
For now, Brown is enjoying the last months of her undergraduate career and time as a UB Bull.
“I already accomplished my main goal: to graduate with my computer engineering degree. My other [goal] is to have fun. My time here is short, and I want to make as big an impact as I can.”