Heidi Brittain Matthews Wright, daughter of Auburn’s first Black graduate, shares her journey pursuing a doctoral degree at Auburn.

The Auburn Alumni Association is proud to spotlight Heidi Brittain Matthews Wright, a distinguished Auburn alumna with a unique connection to Auburn’s history. Heidi’s journey with Auburn began when she was a very young child, accompanying her mother, Dr. Josetta Brittain Matthews, on campus visits. Dr. Brittain Matthews was Auburn’s first Black graduate, earning her degree in 1966-1967, and went on to pursue a doctoral degree in the College of Education in the 1970s.

Heidi’s childhood memories of Auburn are filled with admiration for her mother’s dedication to her studies and her love of educating students. She vividly remembers watching her mother graduate from the doctoral program in 1975, as well as with her honorary doctorate in 2005. Her mother’s legacy at Auburn is also visible through the Honors College dormitory named after her and scholarships established in her name.

Heidi’s own journey at Auburn began in 2016, when she started her doctoral studies in the College of Education’s Special Education Department. She describes her first day on campus as a spiritual moment, walking past Jordan-Hare stadium and up towards the Haley Center, taking in the beauty of the campus. One unexpected and moving experience during her time at Auburn was seeing a Tiger Transit bus with her mother’s picture on the back of it, in all her graduation regalia.

In 2020, Heidi followed in her mother’s footsteps and became an Auburn graduate herself, earning her doctoral degree. She is grateful for Auburn’s recognition of her mother’s achievements and continued commitment to honoring her memory. The Auburn Alumni Association is proud to have Heidi Brittain Matthews Wright as part of our community, representing Auburn’s commitment to diversity, inclusion, and excellence in education.

“I am very thankful for Auburn’s recognition of my mother as it’s first African American graduate. Auburn has continued to honor my mother’s memory and her love of educating students.”