- American Studies
As a student-athlete at the No. 1 public institution in the country, Gennifer is on track to graduate in May 2014. She is majoring in American Studies with a concentration in Sociology of the Family Structure with an interest in making a difference in the world by either going into law enforcement or helping children in the juvenile system.
The Cal women’s basketball team is made up of a group of talented, diverse, fun-loving, gregarious, hard-working student-athletes, and Gennifer Brandon has become known as the quiet, ultra-polite, gentle spirit of the team who learned to rebound as a child by being tempted with a Skittle for each board she grabbed.
The fact that she has remained focused, hard-working and determined after the challenges thrown her way are a testament to her character and the type of role model that she aspires to be. The second of five children, life for the Brandon family was dealt a tragic blow when her father, Gregory Brandon, a former NBA Draft pick by the Seattle SuperSonics, was shot and killed in 1997 by police officers when he was mistaken to be a robbery suspect. The family struggled afterwards and spent time living in and out of hotels and their car before Brandon and her older sister were adopted by their club coach in 2006 while her three younger brothers were split up into foster care.
After receiving a scholarship to play basketball at California, a stress fracture in her shin forced her to miss 16 months of all basketball-related action from 2009-2011. She returned to have an All-American campaign in 2012-13, but in the offseason she was forced to have surgery. Despite the constant setbacks, Brandon has never let it deter her work ethic or her positive attitude around the team.
On a team that prides itself in giving back to the community, Gennifer shines as the rare type of student-athlete who lives for the opportunity to help others not just as a goal in her four years in Berkeley, but as a goal for the rest of her life. A soft-spoken person off the court, the determination in her voice and the sparkle in her eye lights up when asked the simple question: “What do you want to do in life?”
Gennifer is most involved in community service activities that are geared towards helping the homeless and helping children. As someone who has grown from a difficult childhood, it is no wonder that her footprints can be seen throughout the community in these two areas. “Just because someone doesn’t have a home or have the things that you have doesn’t make them not a person. It doesn’t matter where I am, if I see someone in need I always find a way to help out. When I walk down the streets in Berkeley and see homeless people, my heart goes out to them. I’ll go up to people and hand them the last dollar in my pocket. I just like to talk to them and let them know that someone cares. I wish I could do that everyday.”
Brandon had an All-American season for the Bears as a junior in 2012-13, averaging 12.3 points and 11.1 rebounds en route to AP All-America honorable mention honors during Cal’s run to the NCAA Final Four and the first Pac-12 regular season title in program history. The Ann Meyers Drysdale Award candidate, WBCA All-Region selection, Wade Watch list member and unanimous All-Pac-12 selection solidified herself not only as one of the top post players but as one of the top players overall in the country with her dominating efforts throughout the season that included a 23-point, 26-rebound effort against USC - a mark that ranked second in the NCAA in the 2012-13 season for rebounds in a single game and broke a 19-year old Pac-12 record for rebounds in a conference game. Despite a season average of just 28 minutes played per game, Brandon ranked No. 16 in the NCAA with her 11.1 rebounds per game and was one of just 16 players in the country to average at least 12 points and 11 rebounds a game. She set a California single-season rebounding record of 389, the second consecutive year that Brandon set the program mark. Brandon enters the 2013-14 season just 10 points shy of becoming the fourth Golden Bear to join the 1,000-point, 1000-rebound mark for a career.