Kaitlyn Brosh, all 5-foot-4 of her, loves helping to physically empower women.
A certified instructor for the Rape Aggression Defense – or R.A.D. – systems of self-defense, the 28-year-old Brosh teaches others to use their voice and physical leverage to protect themselves against violent attacks. After nine hours of training, her students strap into protective gear and put their classroom lessons to the test against a man.
“My absolute favorite part is watching the girls go through the simulation and seeing the switch turn and their faces when they take their helmets off,” Brosh said. “You see it happen – the strength, the power, the empowerment. You know if something happens to her – if she’s attacked – she’s going to be OK.”
Brosh came to the R.A.D. program through her job as projects manager for Angelo State University’s Center for Community Wellness, Engagement & Development. She’s the WED center’s quarterback and its utility infielder, taking the lead on some projects, filling in where needed on others.
In working with the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health, one of the center’s three programs, Brosh has helped coordinate events that have raised nearly $500,000. Those dollars have directly impacted the lives of more than 12,000 women and girls.
She also worked with the Community Development Initiative to bring AmeriCorps VISTA members to the Concho Valley to work on nonprofit and public projects.
She was asked to serve as a R.A.D. instructor as the Bush Institute successfully sought a San Angelo Health Foundation grant to certify local instructors. Though teaching self-defense was “totally outside my comfort zone,” Brosh fell in love with the program after her first training session.
She has since presented at a R.A.D. international conference and earned its Aggressor Award for being the most tenacious promoter of the R.A.D. way. Her husband has also earned the instructor certification, and together they teach classes.
Their students often size her up. She can tell what they’re thinking: You’re teaching self-defense? “Then we get into it and they’re like, ‘Oh, OK.’”
Brosh also serves as vice president of the Young Professionals of San Angelo. A native of the West Texas town of Munday, she earned two degrees from Angelo State University. Brosh feels a responsibility to help other young newcomers “find their place and people they can connect with so they enjoy San Angelo like I do.”
Her generation is generally not good with commitments, she said, but they’re open to service. They simply need to be exposed to opportunities, she said.
“We’re so locked into our phones, our iPads and computers that if something’s not put in front of our faces, we ignore it,” Brosh said. “There’s an inclusive feeling on Facebook. If we’re not careful, we fall into that and block ourselves off from those around us.
“If you’re not emotionally invested in a community, it’s a lot harder to lead,” she added. “You don’t see the heart of the city. I plan to be here in San Angelo. My life is here.”