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Meet Devin Walker: Diversity Abroad Community Highlight

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 8, 2018

Devin Walker PhotoDevin Walker
Ph.D. Candidate, College of Education
University of Texas at Austin

Level of Experience: 4-10 years

What does diversity & inclusive excellence mean to you in the context of your work?

Diversity and inclusive excellence means that we are centering the needs of historically and continuously marginalized groups within our educational efforts. It is not enough to simply diversify the pool of study abroad participants, instead we must design study abroad programs that speak to these groups needs and desires. 

Please describe the factors that led you to pursue your current career track?

I studied abroad 3 times as an undergraduate and had life changing experiences. However, I realized that I was often one of few Black students on the trip. Not only did I see this as an issue of inequity for the students who weren't on the trip, but it also negatively impacted my experience. After working abroad for a few years, I made it a personal goal to develop programs that could help engage students of color in international education. I have had the unique opportunity to work with cutting edge programming with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT-Austin over the last 5 years. Here, instead of trying to get students of color to join traditional trips, we develop trips based of off their desires and feedback.

What aspects of your work are you most excited about?

I am most excited about trying to extend the notion of inclusivity within international education to groups that are often over-looked, like Black student-athletes. Dominant narratives around this group suggests that they are living the dream as famous collegiate athletes, however, they are often denied some of the institutions most transformative learning opportunities like study abroad.

Please describe any challenges you've encountered in relationship to your current role? What strategies have you employed to overcome them?

There are always many challenges to the work to be done. If there are no challenges, then the work is probably feeding oppression rather than disrupting it. Student-athletes live a very controlled life due to the revenue they bring the institution, so attempting to navigate athletic department politics is always a struggle. However, I have realized that relationships go a long way. Once people trust you, they are more willing to hear you out because they understand you want to do whats best for the students. It is also important to help institutions recognize how they might also benefit from the work that is trying to be accomplished.

As you reflect on different aspects of your career, what are you most proud of?

I recently started a non-profit called the WorldWalker foundation that is focused on providing educational, programmatic and financial resources to help Black adolescents travel within the African diaspora. 

Do you have any heroes? Who are they and why?

My parents- when I think about the things that both of them went through, I am amazed that they were able to raise three successful men, who are genuinely good people. The sacrifices my parents made for my brothers and I fuel me to be selfless and work on behalf of others.

What do you work toward in your free time?

My non-profit, my health and becoming a better partner, family member and community member.

You're a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Sunset- it would be great if as they crayon became more and more used, the colors would fade into each other like a sunset, showing that everything is in the process of becoming.

Do you have a mentor? If so, please describe this mentorship relationship and how it has benefitted your work. 

Dr. Moore is one of my most influential mentors. He has not only provided me with a platform to do what I love, he demands that I be myself and do things the way I see fit. It's great to have a mentor who not only let's you be you, they encourage it.

Recent Engagement with Diversity Abroad

Member: Task Force on Male Students (2016 - 2017) 
Presenter: 4th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference
Award Recipient: Global Student Leadership Award - Graduate Student 

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