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Khalilah Manson

Khalilah Manson

Khalilah Manson’s interest in engineering began at an early age and while her involvement in NSBE (National Society for Black Engineers) in high school piqued her academic curiosities, she never imagined she would end up at the University of Dayton, hours away from home and in a smaller environment than she was used to. In fact, it was a coincidental connection at a college fair in high school where she heard of UD, and decided to look into it more. After learning about the opportunities to engage in social justice work within the academic curriculum, a "campus-like feel", the availability of staff who cared about those of diverse backgrounds succeeding, and ultimately enough financial aid to make attending UD possible, she decided UD was the place where she could see herself.

Growing up on the south side of Chicago, in a family with a deep history of activism stemming from her mother and grandmother, Khalilah has always been comfortable encouraging tough conversations about societal issues and inequalities.When faced with discrimination herself, her activist voice at UD was enhanced. As she explains, “speaking about the injustices within my own personal experiences and within others… led me to be viewed as a student community advocate... while on that trek I spoke for the need for difficult conversations to be had, for students to be their authentic selves.”

As a student, Khalilah has spent her time at UD making sense of the complexities of combining her activist work with academics. This is particularly challenging when considering her intersectional identities; she often finds herself in environments and in classes where she may be the only woman or the only student of color.

Khalilah continues to challenge herself to use her academic pursuits as a way to alleviate social inequities and injustices. Describing it as “a need to create space for both sides of the brain to be utilized,” she has been involved in several academic and co-curricular experiences where she has been able to forge more inclusive paths for herself and others. Khalilah has utilized her activist foundation to create opportunities and spaces where tough conversations can take place in the hopes of impacting campus culture. She has been a leader in her involvement in CIC (Creating Inclusive Communities) by championing the CIC Conference this past year, as a member of BATU (Black Action Through Unity), and as an advocate for students to be their authentic selves, with all of their intersecting identities.  

So what’s ahead for Khalilah? She wants to continue her activism on campus and work to create spaces where students’ voices are elevated. She hopes to leave a legacy that promotes the development of both the creative and logical sides of our brain, in order to come up with new approaches and solutions for challenges that impact our world. Ultimately, she’d like to use the experiences that have shaped her to this point in a way that will make UD a more equitable, inclusive campus for all.