Class of 2019: Kimalee Dickerson

A Charlottesville native, Kimalee is graduating with a Ph.D. in Education Psychology-Applied Developmental Science.


How did your journey bring you to Curry?

I grew up in Charlottesville and earned my bachelor’s degree from UVA before going to law school. After practicing law for several years, I decided to return to school to study racial equity and learn how to use research to inform policy and practice. Coming to Curry was a wonderful opportunity to work with brilliant scholars and also be in my hometown. 


What is the most significant experience that has shaped your time here?

My most significant experiences have involved service to Curry and the Charlottesville community. For example, this year I led a group of local high school students in developing an anti-racism policy which the Albemarle County School Board recently adopted. Additionally, as a representative on Curry's Diversity Action Committee and Seeds4Change, I have collaborated with Curry faculty and staff on various diversity initiatives. The skills, knowledge, and networks I developed at Curry helped prepare and position me for these leadership opportunities. 


If you can, name one person at Curry who has made a special impact during your studies and how?

I don't think I can name just one! There have been so many people - peers, friends, mentors, advisors - that have supported me in various ways at different times. Each of them made a special impact on me.


What is one thing you learned here that surprised you?

One thing that surprised me was how demanding doctoral programs are, not just academically but also psychologically and emotionally. Having already completed law school, I erroneously expected the doctoral experience to be similar. I share this to normalize the challenge and also to illustrate that it is possible to persist and succeed.


What advice would you give to a new doctoral student?

I would advise new doctoral students to explore a range of experiences and opportunities during their program. Doctoral programs tend to prepare students to become experts in a narrow topical area, but many of my most meaningful experiences stemmed from volunteering for a random side project that later created other opportunities.


What will you be doing next?

I am currently finalizing my plans for next year, but I will continue to work at the intersection of research, practice, and policy with the goal of advancing racial equity.