Dr. Alisia Kirkwood is the Interim Associate Vice President for the Pacific Coast Campus at Long Beach Community College. She is in charge of multiple sections, including leadership for student government, international students, student discipline, and Title IX student sexual harassment/violence. Kirkwood is a woman of color that has endured and overcome discrimination throughout her life, which is what motivated her to work to prevent challenges for other students who are now in the same position she was when she was younger. “As a Black female I did not have the greatest educational experiences myself, K-12 or from an institution of higher education”, explained Dr. Kirkwood.
Even now as an adult and a professional, Dr. Kirkwood still finds herself in a battle for respect and fair treatment. “Some days I’m not sure if it’s race or gender… I mean it could be a multitude of things, but I do know for sure I do experience things as a black female especially,” she said. Despite this, Dr. Kirkwood continues to persevere and handles all situations not just in the way her professional side would, but also her personal one as well. There are days when she must speak up for herself, as respectfully as possible of course, and not let such situations or comments go. But there are other days when all she can do is give her input on a matter and allow people to do with the information what they will.
If her time in a leading role has taught her anything that she wishes she could impart to her younger self it would be, “keep the faith…recognize that you’re called to this work, because I do believe that this is a calling on my life, impacting the lives of others toward their, you know, hopes and dreams.” Despite the trials and tribulations, being in a position where she can help people in ways that she was not exposed to when she was a student, is worth the struggles as an adult.
Dr. Alisia Kirkwood expresses that she truly loves her career and feels a sense of empowerment from it. She feels that women and people of color are still being let down by our society today, so being a woman of color in a leading position makes her feel that she has become a symbol of representation. She has become a mentor to multiple people while she moved up in the ranks of the educational system. When working with other women that are looking for advice or inspiration she tells them, “Remember that we are standing on the shoulders of other women who paved the way so that we could have the opportunities that we have today. So, we need to honor their sacrifices.”
Dr. Kirkwood refuses to allow the history that women have made to be lost and forgotten. She wants to encourage herself and other women to live each day in honor of those women and their sacrifices regardless of how “ugly” history can be. The last piece of advice that Dr. Kirkwood wanted to leave the female audience with is: “know that you deserve to be where you are because you are worthy. I would tell women you are worthy of the right to do the work you were hired to do and to do it as your 100 percent genuine authentic self, whatever that individual may be like, look like, etc.”