Khadidja Diouf is a daughter, sister, friend, daycare teacher, volunteer, student, mentor, tutor and a specialist in the West Virginia National Guard.
As a young, African American girl growing up in an urban neighborhood of Dayton, Ohio, Diouf’s mother provided her and her sister with the best opportunities she could afford – everything she could to keep them off of the streets. Sports, such as taekwondo, were on the list. But education, such as advanced tutoring in reading and math, came before black belts.
Fast forward to today and Diouf is double majoring in global supply chain management and accounting at the Chambers College, and minoring in leadership studies.
She has big plans for her future and she’s taking all of the steps, and then some, to achieve her goals.
Diouf spoke to us about her childhood, her education and her future.
Q: I have to ask … why West Virginia University?
A: When I first came here I had never been to West Virginia, or any state really like West Virginia, so I went to Adventure WV– the summer program for business students. There, I met Susan Lantz (marketing teaching assistant professor) and my relationship with her has been amazing throughout my career at Chambers. My first job was under her and still, to this day, I work with her in the AeSC (Academic Engagement and Success Center). Her support and other faculty around me, just always rooting for me and helping me find opportunities, is what I really appreciate about Chambers College and WVU as a whole. It’s everything that a little girl coming from an urban neighborhood, into a new environment, could ask for.
Q: What led you to join the West Virginia National Guard and how did you get your start?
A: In high school, I was in JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer's Training Corps) and I always knew I wanted to be in the Army. I started at WVU in August 2016 and then swore into the U.S. Army shortly after, in September. I did a semester’s worth of college both my junior and senior year of high school so that I would be able to take time off to complete my basic training (in Fort Jackson, S.C.) and my Advanced Individual Training (AIT).
Q: What will you be responsible for as a unit supply specialist?
A: I will be ordering, issuing and transporting gear and weapons – basically anything that the soldiers need in the Army – that’s my job. There’s three of us in supply and I’m right under my sergeant, so we take care of everything they need. Whether it’s ordering uniforms, new boots or fixing their weapons, they will come to us.
Q: What have you learned from being a full-time student and a specialist?
A: The Army has helped me in so many ways. It makes me appreciate things I’d never appreciate as a civilian and not to take things for granted. It makes me more organized and helps me manage my time. Doing both is a nice balance. It also helps your career. It helps pay for your schooling and your living. I am getting deployed this year – my first time being deployed – but that’s going to happen with being in the Army and I’m excited. I wouldn’t tell anyone not to do it.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Law school. That’s why I have decided not to go full-time in the Army, so that I can apply to law school. I knew I was going to be a lawyer since second grade. I’m hoping to practice commercial law, which is business law, so I want to have a business undergrad and be able to see not only the legal side, but also the business side of the law for my client.
Q: Is it because you watched a lot of “Law & Order” or did you know someone who practiced law?
A: My advanced math tutor and mentor from when I was young, Deborah Hunt. She’s a lawyer and even though she always encouraged me to do what I want, she always said I would be a lawyer. And we have never lost touch. Every time I come home from break we go get lunch, get dinner and catch up. We send cards for our birthdays and I call her for advice. Her husband got an undergraduate in accounting and then got a law degree, so they both help guide me with what I want to do and how I want to go about planning everything out. And, it wasn’t until I told Deborah I got into WVU that I learned she received her BA degree at WVU.
Q: What message do you hope to teach the younger generation?
A: I want to do what Deb Hunt did for me. I’m just trying to be that same mentor. Somebody kids can look up to. They knew when I was away for training because I always wear my WVU stuff so they can see that somebody from their same neighborhood made it out and went to college, and is getting a degree from a single-parent household. All the kids I teach are destined to success, and that’s what I push. I want to let them know that they don’t have to partake in any illegal activities to be successful. They can go to college, they can go to the Army, they can become a dancer, be an artist … they can do anything that is going to make them happy.