Judi Khalilallah has no problem stating her passion. Her passion is teaching awareness of diversity in any manner possible, whether at work in the Dean of Students office, in her collegiate courses or at the Boys and Girls club where she will soon begin volunteering.
“I asked myself, what is your passion?” Khalilallah said. “It always comes back to teaching about diversity and incorporating diversity into the classroom setting. I love those ah-hah moments when someone says to me, ‘Judi, something you said to me made me realize . . .’ Such moments give me goose bumps. I strive for them every day as you never know who you are going to touch.”
Khalilallah’s articulation of her personal definition of diversity is “the awareness of and respect for similarities and differences and the ideal of embracing inclusivity.” She said addressing diversity issues in any situation keeps awareness high and helps others broaden their views. “It is my way of life,” she said, “not just an abstract subject.”
Khalilallah said she is a late bloomer and not ready for retirement. She has completed a master’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (human development) and the required coursework for a master’s degree in English (children’s literature). Khalilallah is exploring the possibility of pursuing a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. “I want to teach teachers how to incorporate diversity into their classroom, showing them it does not have to be a chore, and that it is not difficult to achieve,” she said.
Toward that end, when Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Evelyn Young called to congratulate Khalilallah on receiving the YWCA WINGS (Women to Improve her skills for a Notable purpose which allows her to Grow professionally and to achieve Success) award, Khalilallah told her she needed to find a way to volunteer in the community, to make a difference. Young referred her to Program Director Laura Duvendack who presented various opportunities. One stood out to Khalilallah – Youth for Unity, a program which entails teaching diversity awareness to their young members, ages 5-18. Khalilallah said she is excited to take on the “awesome commitment.”
Wil Davis, retired Admissions assistant director, recruited Khalilallah for the campus affiliation, Association of Black Academic Employees, 17 years ago. She said ABAE helped her identify and get to know other African Americans on campus, and she was proud that they established the ABAE Wilbert Davis Jr. Book Scholarship. Khalilallah said they also have a listserv, sponsor dinners for students, serve as mentors and provide a presence on campus to bridge the gap between students and staff.
Khalilallah said next she would like to assist in some capacity with the diversity component for teacher education certification in Curriculum and Instruction. She has offered to volunteer, doing whatever she can to promote inclusivity in education, particularly from a pedagogical perspective.
“Ultimately I would like to teach in Curriculum and Instruction,” said Khalilallah. “After all, since teaching and teaching diversity awareness is one of my passions, I believe that would be a good fit for me. I get truly excited about the future and the potential opportunities to witness the ah-hah moments.”