Deseré Cross Ward
Social Media Strategist, UT Austin

Deseré Cross Ward is a higher education professional focused on increasing postsecondary access, readiness and success for underrepresented populations. Currently, Deseré is a social media strategist in the President's Office at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin. She is also a graduate student, earning her master's in the Program of Higher Education Leadership in UT's College of Education.

Originally from Salisbury, NC, Deseré received two bachelor's degrees in Journalism and Organizational Communication from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. Upon graduating in 2014, she worked for Black Network Television (BNT), a black owned television network based in Greensboro, NC. During this time, she gained experience working in sales, marketing, advertising and public relations.

Deseré transitioned into higher education soon after, becoming UNC's first social media community leader. While at UNC, she doubled the university's social media content, expanded its portfolio to include two new platforms - Snapchat and Periscope, and consulted UNC departments on how to use social media strategically to reach their communication goals.

In 2016, Deseré moved to Austin to work at UT, Texas' flagship university. As UT's social media strategist, Deseré works directly with the university's president to provide strategic direction on social media and to direct his student engagement initiatives. Deseré's work with students sparked her passion to impact their success, leading her to pursue a master's in higher education leadership.

In addition to working in the UT President's Office and studying higher education leadership, Deseré serves on the Black Faculty and Staff Association's executive team, an official university resource group at UT. Recently, Deseré also served as a graduate intern in UT's Multicultural Engagement Center (MEC), a center dedicated to supporting a culturally diverse campus and helping UT cultivate a positive campus climate. While in the MEC, Deseré oversaw the launch of a fall diversity dialogue series, conducted research to create a framework for the MEC's new diversity certificate, and established a partnership between Austin Area Urban League and the MEC.

Deseré's life motto stems from her favorite quote: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." And it's no coincidence that UT's institutional mantra, "What starts here, changes the world," also encapsulates her life motto. Deseré is an interrupter of the status quo and is dedicated to serving in roles that allow her to become the change she seeks.