It’s an exciting time here at the CITL, as we have three new colleagues who have joined us this semester! We’ll do a special blog post introducing each of our awesome new colleagues. To start, please meet Da’Ja’ Askew (she/her), our new Equity and Inclusion Specialist! I asked Da’Ja’ some questions, so we could get to know her better!
Can you introduce yourself a little? What’s a hobby or two you enjoy? Tell me a little about your research. Bonus points if you can make it understandable to a novice 😊
I am a second year PhD student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program with a minor in Human Development here at IUB. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Psychology at Defiance College and Master’s in Higher Education at Purdue University Global. I currently work at the CITL as an Equity and Inclusion Specialist, and I am very excited to contribute to this role!
In my free time, I love cooking and baking. I am always in the kitchen trying new recipes and I just got a new standing mixer for Christmas! I am an avid online shopper and the Amazon trucks know my address by heart. I also love to travel, and my most memorable trip was to Ghana, Africa this past summer.
I consider myself a scholar-activist and I am heavily involved with the populations I study and programs that I aim to implement. My research focuses on highlighting student voices and providing them with safe spaces on college campuses where they want to speak and share their thoughts. My studies are framed through a Black Joy perspective, which emphasizes Black individuals being happy through service work and community engagement. In short, I study how Black students can be happy on college campuses and how institutions can make this possible.
What’s a moment from teaching you’ve really enjoyed?
I always enjoy interacting with and getting to know my students, and it has always been my favorite part about teaching. I have created some strong relationships with my students in the past and I still mentor them now. It is truly an honor to serve students. One moment that stands out to me in particular is when I wrote a letter of recommendation for a student to study abroad in Ecuador. The student reached out to me and notified me of her acceptance, and had a great experience during her travels. She told me that, “I felt like I had nothing. Everyone else around me was accomplishing things, and I was not. But Da’Ja’, you motivated me to apply to study abroad and now I have something.”
I will never forget this moment. I have been called to uplift people and I am glad I get to fulfill that calling with my students and through my community work as a scholar-activist.
What’s a piece of teaching advice you’d give to a graduate student new to teaching at IU?
Get to know your students, build relationships with them, and find their strengths and act on that. Students are more receptive to their instructors when they feel comfortable and safe, so it is paramount to build connections with them. Not all students excel academically, but they may have musical or artistic skills that they are experts in. Provide them with opportunities to use their skills and strengths. Also, know that your students are dealing with other stressors outside of the classroom and they could be carrying that weight with them to class. Be kind, gentle, and consider, but still implement boundaries.
What are you looking forward to doing at the CITL?
I am looking forward to strengthening my skills as a consultant and learning more about various opportunities in the field. I am looking forward to incorporating my research interests and passions into my role while making tangible change.
Anything else you want people to know about you?
I want people to know that I am genuinely passionate about what I do and I am not pursuing my studies for show or prestige. I truly am the change I want to see in the world and I want to continue making the world a better place. I have been called to do this work. I am open and willing to collaborate with other individuals and departments who share similar interests and passions! Please feel free to contact me!
Thanks to Da’Ja’ for helping us get to know her better! Da’Ja’ is available to meet with instructors for one-on-one consultations or to come talk to your pedagogy classes. If you’d like to talk with Da’Ja’, reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look out for Da’Ja’s upcoming programming on our events page! We’re so happy that Da’Ja’ has joined us at the CITL!