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Student Spotlight: Carleigh Kude Blanks


How many years have you worked in your position?

I have been at Stanford for five years.

How has your job changed since the pandemic?

Everything has changed. Stanford University is a place of presence, so pivoting to a virtual experience for students, faculty, and administrators was - and continues to be - a huge lift. I led my team in developing policies and procedures for delivering accommodation services in a new paradigm, crafting supportive programming for students with disabilities for learning and coping during COVID-19, and case-managed through difficult situations for students with medical fragility and other extenuating circumstances that impact their ability to Shelter in Place. I am also a parent, so my attention is now divided between Stanford University Student Affairs and the at-home education of my elementary-aged children. Let's just say that I send a lot of my emails at nighttime. 

We are also taking the national calls for racial justice very seriously. This is an opportunity to do the essential work of examining our institutional history and practices of racism and address them head on. I am currently managing a research project on the intersection of disability justice and racial justice with the intended outcome to deepen our commitment to equity and inclusion, and ensure our practices are walking that walk. 

Why did you choose to get an MPA?

Right out of undergrad, I moved to San Francisco to attend law school. But I left on the first day; I knew that was not the right path for me at that time. Instead, I found my footing in the professional world: working for non-profit organizations, serving on city committees, and taking a deep-dive into the world of access, equity, and inclusion for people with disabilities. I chose to pursue my Master's degree in Public Administration because the mandate for independence and equality is the serendipitous coincidence of legal mandate and social justice. My MPA allowed me to continue in my career path as a subject matter expert passionate about social justice, policy, and the administration of public programs and services.

What do you like to do when you're not at the office? 

I love to ride my bicycle! I am very fortunate to live in the Bay Area and have great access to trails and long, gorgeous rides around my region. I am also a voracious reader, and am finding that contemporary fiction is much better pandemic solace than television these days.