Hometown: Halifax, NC
Professional interests: As an Academic Guide, I want to ensure students feel listened to, supported, and nurtured throughout their journey at Duke. I also hope to provide guidance and words of wisdom that will help students grow into their best selves as they prepare for rewarding careers and lives outside of Duke as well.
Summary of previous professional experience:
For over nine years, I worked in a variety of settings, including community-based, state government, and higher education. Most of my background consists of clinical mental health and clinical rehabilitation counseling settings. As a licensed counselor, I was committed to helping others overcome personal obstacles and develop a proactive approach to ensure optimal growth. Through work in vocational evaluations and expert testimony, I worked to ensure persons with disabilities were in suitable educational, training, and career opportunities.
- Ph.D., Rehabilitation Counseling & Rehabilitation Counselor Education, North Carolina A&T State University
- M.Ed., Adult Education, East Carolina University
- M.S., Rehabilitation Counseling/Vocational Evaluation, East Carolina University
- B.A. in Psychology, North Carolina A&T State University
I am passionate about experiential learning in professional development, Black/African American mental health needs, how different work-life areas impact burnout; and implementing wellness, self-care, and community care in graduate students and early-career professionals.
- Two unique experiences happened in my life related to Duke: I was a part of the Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP) in the 5th grade. Being from a very small and rural town, coming to Duke’s campus at 10 years old felt surreal. During my PhD program, I got an email about a SiriusXM promotion where winners could attend a live Town Hall session with Coach K. On a dare, I submitted my info and got lucky enough to be selected. I met Jayson Tatum and got the opportunity to ask Coach K a question. I have a picture of myself, Coach K, and my PhD professor (who also went with me that day) to commemorate the occasion — what an amazing day!
- I love Lego sets! Initially given to me as a gift from my younger brother to commemorate my study abroad trip to Paris, Legos quickly became my wellness hobby during my PhD program (and beyond). 12 sets and counting! My favorite (so far) is the Pirate ship and Tree House.
What was the most challenging part of college for you? What did you learn from that experience?
College was a completely new experience for me. Being a first-generation student, I couldn’t go to anyone in my family about expectations, people to connect with, or adjusting to a new environment. I was fortunate to have some high school classmates attend the same undergraduate institution, so we banded together to seek out resources and mentors. Even though we grew as a collective, there was also individual growth that occurred. During my undergraduate experience, I truly began to understand the meaning of “embrace the journey, not just the destination”. What an eye-opening journey!
What did you learn or gain in college that you have carried with you?
“Shakeerrah, it is perfectly fine if you take a completely different path from the one originally planned. Take this opportunity to grow and learn; soak it all up. Find hobbies that you enjoy (and keep them close to you). Find your community. Take every single moment of this journey in stride.”
What do you know now that you wish you had known in college?
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for help. Reaching out to others could lead to friendships, mentorships, and connections that last a lifetime.
- Take this opportunity to learn and explore as much as possible. College is such a significant growth period in your life. Consider learning about different career paths. Discover new hobbies and interests.
- I know everyone says this, but it still holds true: try not to cram. Get rest. Find out how you (and where you) study best. Seek help early, whether it’s from professors, other classmates, or tutors. Positive affirmations may also seem cliché but can definitely be helpful too. Things may change but continue to do the inner work on yourself to know what works best for you. You got this!