Keyimani L. Alford, Ph.D. is a higher education professional who has spent almost two decades committed to helping students overcome the financial barriers of college. He has been fortunate to be an example to his peers, family, and friends by demonstrating that your past does not have to derail your future.
As a first-generation college student who was born in Oakland, California but later raised in Milwaukee, WI, he experienced first-hand the consequences of living in poverty through the exposure of drugs, absence of biological parents, mental instability, and low self-esteem. However, in the midst of his circumstances he maintained a positive perspective by grounding himself in his faith. Due to that, he vowed to himself that his future would be better than his past.
“I may not be the best, but I am the best person to fulfill my destiny….”
After experiencing his life situations, that he often shares with his audience, he decided that education was his door to a better and brighter future. Growing up in a household where high school wasn’t the number one priority, he took on the mindset that graduation was not an option. Fueled by his spiritual walk, he trusted the process and accepted his past as a bridge to success. After graduating high school and going to college he became interested in providing options to college students, which started his career in higher education by working in the financial aid office.
Embracing his own obstacles, challenges, and often mistakes in college, he understood his path – it was to help assist other college students escape the harsh reality of not having support. At this point, Dr. Keys’ life shifted and he found himself connecting more and more with students who had situations just like he did while in college. Moreover, those relationships grew and he would often be sought out by other higher education professionals to assist multiple students on and off campus.
During his professional career, Dr. Key was introduced to Terry Everson who exposed him to his inner potential and leadership abilities. Through conversation and leadership opportunities Dr. Key began defining his path as a higher education trainer, presenter and leader in the industry. He enjoys the ability to share and deposit strategies, techniques, and perspectives on how to be a stronger leader in and out of day-to-day responsibilities.
Over the years he has presented and trained thousands at national, regional, and state-wide conferences and web-based platforms surrounding higher education issues, industry challenges, and professional development. Dr. Key continues to grow and develop as a professional and scholar. He currently focuses on studying retention and persistence barriers in higher education. His scholarly research evaluates college issues at predominantly White institutions that serve first-generation, minority male students and their interaction with faculty.
“Yesterday’s failures are doors for today’s opportunities; embrace the gift and appreciate the chance to try it all over again…”
Dr. Key, through his speaking engagements, continues to share his life’s experiences and provides positive strategies and perspectives to help youth, higher education professionals, and college students be more effective and efficient in their lives and daily interactions with each other.
One of the most proud accomplishments of Dr. Key was graduating with his Ph.D. in Education. If he would have evaluated his life growing up, obtaining a doctoral degree would have not been reachable. However, he did it and believes that anyone can too who is determined. He often shares his journey and wisdom through his KeyWORDS, which are quotes about life, leadership and perspectives. Dr. Key’s primary goal is to demonstrate that the future is always bright with the right ingredients – forgiveness, perspective and motivation.