Name: Christel Perkins
Department: Coalition of Urban Serving Universities
Title: Deputy Executive Director
Why did you want to work at APLU? I was drawn to the work of the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities and its emphasis on highlighting equitable approaches student success, health, and community engagement. Having worked in urban environments my whole career, I wanted to be a part of an organization that understood the unique challenges and opportunities associated with higher education in urban environments. Public education specifically has the opportunity to reach and to advance such a diverse body of students, faculty, and staff, while being integrated with its surrounding communities.
What education or work experience had the greatest impact on you? Studying abroad in Thailand during my undergraduate years was definitely the most impactful educational experience I’ve had. The resistance, and barriers I faced to participation, as well being the first Black person many of the people in the villages I visited had ever met, encouraged me to pursue a doctorate in higher education where I could investigate the under representation of students of color in study abroad programs, with the intent of creating better pathways for people like me to participate and benefit from these life-changing and academically-stimulating experiences.
What’s the biggest change public university leaders can expect in 5-10 years? We can expect that the leaders of tomorrow will likely look very different from those of today. I anticipate that the perception of university presidents and senior leaders as older, White, heterosexual, cisgender men will continue to change, while ushering in leaders who are not only knowledgeable about, but actually reflect the intersectional identities of the students and communities they serve.
What is your favorite thing about living in DC? The people that live here, both DC natives, and those who have come to the region for work or school. DC natives have such pride in their rich history, its strong African American community, and its Go-go music! Meeting other DC transplants is great because they share their experiences, and customs from their home towns/countries and contribute rich conversations, and good food!
What was your dream job as a child? So many things! I wanted to be everything from a pilot, to a theme park designer (is that actually a job?), and a psychologist.
What’s the last book you read? Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim. It’s a collection of essays by Black women authors reflecting on the articulation and visibility of Black women in literature.