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Malaika Marable Serrano - Kultural Kurator

Malaika Marable Serrano

She, Her, Hers

Ethnicity - African American

Occupation - VP for Diversity and Inclusion

Years of Employment - 18

What global experiences have you taken part in when you were a student and/or as a young professional? My first significant global experience was studying abroad for a semester in Australia, which sparked a life-long desire to work in international education! I later participated as a graduate student on a faculty-led program in Brazil and spent a year teaching English to business executives in Caracas, Venezuela. As a professional, I've had an opportunity to work in a variety of spaces in international education - universities, non-profits, government, and study abroad organizations.

How has Global Education impacted you and your career choices?

Once I entered the field, I started teaching and eventually developed a service-learning program in the Dominican Republic, where my students examined race and social inequality in cross-cultural contexts. Studying abroad provided space and perspective, which led to clarity on the direction I wanted to take regarding my career.

What do you enjoy most about the work that you do in Global Education?

In my current position, I have the honor of serving as the VP for Diversity and Inclusion for Higher Education. This work is truly my professional “happy place” – the intersection of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and International Education!

What challenges have you had to overcome as you work in Global Education?

Most of my experiences in Global Education have been very positive. Early in my career, I had the good fortune to work for an organization that was very supportive of professional development and advancement. My supervisor always encouraged me to try new things and pour energy into my passion areas, including diversity and inclusion. I think my greatest challenge/learning experience was recognizing when I'd outgrown a position and figuring out ways to continuously stay challenged. Getting involved in professional organizations is not only a great way to stay engaged and energized, it's also a wonderful way to increase your network.

How has your cultural identity impacted your experience working in Global Education?

As a cisgender woman of color, my study and work abroad experiences looked different from my peers. I believe in advocating for the inclusion of diverse voices and experiences in all dimensions of our work - students, faculty program directors, and staff who administer education abroad programs.

How has seeing other people of color/diverse backgrounds in Global Education inspired you?

I've been an active member of the Global Education community for nearly 20 years and I love seeing colleagues of color and folks from diverse backgrounds advance and grow in their careers! I believe learning is continuous and appreciate learning from those who've come before me, my contemporaries and colleagues who are new to the field.

As a Kultural Kurator, what does culture mean to you?

A celebration of our differences and creating Brave Spaces where people can show up authentically.

Self care is so important as we live our lives and grow in our professions. How do you incorporate self care into your life?

Family is a central part of my life and I'm blessed to have two beautiful children. Spending quality time with them keeps work/life in perspective. Additionally, I love spending time outdoors, traveling, and cooking with loved ones.

What advice would you give to a future Kultural Kurator as they think about taking opportunities to explore the world around them?

Don't be afraid to try new things! This might be a new assignment at your current organization or testing the waters in a new space. Make an effort to get involved in the Global Education community and grow your network. When a new opportunity presents itself, pay it forward by keeping the door open for those coming behind you.

How can others follow you on social media and/or is there an email address that you'd like to share?

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