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Newsmaker

Meet the first head of Loyola University Maryland’s Center for Equity, Leadership and Social Justice in Education

Nearly 11 years ago, Qi Shi was shocked when a male student asked her if she was good at math. Shi, who is Chinese, was then a school counselor at Maya Angelou Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. Some Chinese are, but some aren’t, she responded.

The experience, and her research about immigrants and English as a Second Language students led to her work today in the diversity field.

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“As a Chinese woman in America, it’s hard. The hardship is about biases, discriminations and/or how people see you [and] what people expect from you,” she said. “Those kinds of biases and prejudices and discriminations and microaggressions can happen. I wouldn’t say it happens all the time, but it can happen.”

As the newly appointed director of Loyola University Maryland’s Center for Equity, Leadership and Social Justice in Education at the School of Education, her job is to mentor faculty members. In addition, she provides assistance to those working on projects about diversity who apply for grants and scholarships. While smaller projects traditionally struggle to get funding, the center, which will launch July 1, will welcome projects of all sizes.

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Shi, who’s responsible for raising money to sustain the center, said Loyola and the School of Education Dean’s Office will fund it for the first two years. She declined to say how much money the school will invest.

A previous center called the Center for Innovation in Urban Education shut down because the faculty — in part ― didn’t use it, she said.

“I feel excited and nervous at the same time — excited because of what could happen, and nervous because I haven’t done this before,” she said.

Dr. Qi Shi will serve as the founding director of Loyola University Maryland's new Center for Equity, Leadership and Social Justice in Education.

Shi, 40, who’s from Harbin, China, now lives in Ellicott City. She earned a bachelor’s from Beijing International Studies University in 2003. In 2009, she received a masters of counseling from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Four years later, she earned a Ph.D in counselor education and school counseling and guidance services from the George Washington University, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Her research experience prepared her for the director role, she said, particularly after applying for and receiving a grant from the National Science Foundation two years ago for a study about Latina English learners’ experiences in science, technology, engineering and math. That experience taught her how to manage grant money, she said.

“The center will cultivate and strengthen sustainable partnerships with the community, so that research can be conducted in a way that can have deeper, meaningful impact to our community,” she said.

On a practical level, that means she will get feedback from the community and use it to meet their needs.

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Desvan Moody, of Mount Vernon, is a graduate student in Loyola’s school counseling program and a former student of Shi’s. Moody, who met Shi in 2019, said her passion for the diversity field will be an asset.

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“I personally think that [talking about diversity] is important because in the world that we live in today, there is such a need for the stories of all identities and intersections of those identities to be heard and seen and honored and affirmed,” he said.

Karen Phillips, who has worked with Shi since 2020, is a graduate student at Loyola’s school counseling program and a research assistant for Shi. Shi has been a mentor to her, she said.

“She has a really inspiring vision around programming and research from an equity and inclusion lens. Her leadership is really going to help,” she said.

Shi has two daughters, ages 7 and 9. She and her husband, who is Spanish, travel every summer to China and Spain in an effort to teach their children about their heritage. While she said her children haven’t faced discrimination, she has faced barriers while trying to assimilate as a foreigner, she said.

“I hope they can just be proud of who they are, and that is beautiful — something that can be celebrated,” she said.

This article is part of our Newsmaker series, which profiles notable people in the Baltimore region who are having an impact in our diverse communities. If you’d like to suggest someone who should be profiled, please send their name and a short description of what they are doing to make a difference to: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Editor Kamau High at khigh@baltsun.com.


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