Loida Tapia isn’t sure she said it enough during her undergrad days. So here it is one more time:
Thank you, James Anderson and Chamara Jewel Kwakye, for the career kickstart.
She might not have landed at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management without it.
“When I think back at my time at the U of I, there was not a more influential atmosphere than sitting in Dean James Anderson’s Race and Cultural Diversity course in the College of Education," Tapia says. "I remember his course vividly and sitting in discussion with Dr. Chamara Jewel Kwakye, had a deep impact that would influence my future in ways I didn’t expect.
"I took this course my last semester. I had already joined then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, with little assurance that he would win but lots of hope and will to pursue something much larger. I completed my studies while community organizing in IA.
"Dr. Anderson and Dr. Kwakye provided the tools I needed to discuss politics in communities not of my own. They gave me the confidence to lean on my personal history and share my lived experience, because movements have narratives and inspire actions.
"I went on to community organize in President Obama’s 2008 campaign, then moved on to the United States Senate with our senior senator, Dick Durbin, I later joined President Obama’s 2012 campaign and after that victory, I was a White House appointee to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, working on diversity and inclusion initiatives on a government-wide level.
"Dr. Anderson and Dr. Kwakye may not remember me but I certainly remember walking to the College of Education building three times a week and sitting in a class that inspired me to serve.”