Keilani Afalava, a 2020 graduate of Trevecca’s Doctor of Education in leadership program (Ed.D.), knew that learning to be an effective leader would be crucial if she wanted to meet the career goals she’d set for herself.
“I wanted to make a significant footprint as a young woman of color in the research space about something in which I felt incredibly passionate,” Afalava said. “After a lot of investigating, I believed Trevecca's Ed.D. program could offer this, and it did.”
At the time she applied to Trevecca, Afalava was working at a mental health care agency in Washington state as a diversity and inclusion coordinator. Through the Ed.D. program, Afalava was able to explore the intersection of her passions — social justice and mental health — through conducting research on underrepresentation of Black people in the mental healthcare setting.
By the time she graduated from the program a year ago, Afalava had developed a passion for research too, and she credits her Trevecca experience for propelling her into her current position as a human resources director for an elevated-living retirement community in Los Angeles. Afalava’s focus is on addressing the underrepresentation of racial minorities in the workplace.
“My experience and my education have truly allowed me to blossom into a professional and a leader who is capable of cultivating healthy balances of leadership and teamwork, creating interpersonal connections from intentional standpoints, implementing strategic ways of thinking for operational success and understanding the power of healthy and unhealthy influence,” she said.
Afalava’s forward focus and confidence as a leader perfectly capture the mission of the Ed.D. program, according to Dr. Ryan Longnecker, who leads the online program for the Ed.D. in leadership at Trevecca.
“Everyone is a leader, and one of our main focuses is teaching how to identify and leverage the value that already exists in an organization,” Longnecker said. “Often as leaders, we try to strategize on how to create more value, but I think the big focus of this program is on how to find the unused value that already exists. That is what equips our students with the skills they need to lead at whatever level they find themselves.”
Afalava has things covered when it comes to big ambitions that can help deliver opportunities to people who need them.
“My deepest passion is to offer a more level playing field for underrepresented communities in any way I can,” she said. “In the future, that will look like continuing to climb the corporate ladder while beginning a few businesses of my own to reach as many people as possible. I want to offer them opportunities in spaces in which they may not have even been considered previously.”