Welcome to the Princeton Club of Washington - Member Spotlight: K. Malaika Walton '87

 

Member Spotlight: K. Malaika Walton '87

Meet PCW Member K. Malaika Walton '87, Co-Chair of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations (PPRR) DC Committee and Treasurer of the Princeton Club of Washington (in addition to her many other vital leadership roles).

   

I live in Reston, VA with my husband and my daughter, a high school freshman.  My son is a college senior – we don’t see him much around the house anymore.  Currently I serve as the Treasurer for the Princeton Club of Washington, the co-chair for the Princeton Prize in Race Relations (PPRR) DC Committee, the secretary for the national committee of PPRR and as the secretary for the Class of ’87.   


My engagement with Princeton alumni associations has really developed since 2012 and my 25th reunion, when I volunteered to become the class secretary.  I was officially voted in – but it was not a competitive election.  My ability to engage with Princeton had been somewhat limited since I was in the US Foreign Service for 20+ years, moving every 2-3 years, and also raising my family.  During those years, I would interview Princeton applicants (I even had the joy of interviewing an applicant when I was in Kinshasa, DR Congo – she was great but sadly was not accepted.) and when I was in living in the DC area I would also serve on the Princeton Prize committee.  I volunteered to serve as a co-chair for PPRR in fall 2014, which also then introduced me to the Princeton Club of Washington (PCW) council.  PPRR is extremely grateful for the partnership and support of PCW, which includes incorporating PPRR leaders in the work of the council.  In sum, as my kids have become more independent and my professional life has become more domestically focused, I have welcomed the opportunity to become more engaged with fellow Princeton alumni.  


Prior to beginning my Princeton journey, I spent my formative years in Buffalo, NY.  We moved to Mbabane, Swaziland when I was a teenager, as my mother then worked for USAID, and I completed high school at Waterford-Kamhlaba (I took O level exams).  I was drawn to Princeton because of the gorgeous, self-contained campus, only an hour from both NY and Philadelphia.  I also liked that it did not have fraternities and sororities but did have the Third World Center (TWC).  At Princeton I majored in the Woodrow Wilson School (WWS), and also received certificates in African Studies, African American Studies and Theater and Dance.  I was one of a handful of students who did a semester abroad in junior year – at that time Princeton did not encourage study abroad for a full semester – spending it at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.  Senior year I was an RA, a member of the eating co-op at TWC, and a student leader for a junior policy seminar at WWS.  


After I graduated from Princeton I went to UC Berkeley and got an MA in Journalism. But then joined the foreign service. I had five overseas assignments:  Madagascar, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Jordan and DR Congo, with plenty of years in the US as well.  


I enjoy my work with PCW and the Class of ’87, but I will say that what is closest to my heart is the Princeton Prize.  We are encouraging high school students to create change in their communities on issues of race and racial understanding.  Two years ago we held a ½ day regional conference with students, parents and teachers to discuss the challenges of race relations in their schools/communities and to share experiences with projects and programs that create change.  It was a great experience for the participants and our committee, and I hope to repeat that again.  My vision is that the PPRR-DC committee can be a regional partner and resource for high school students and teachers working to create more racially inclusive and equitable communities, as well as a prize giving organization.  


On a final note, when not working or volunteering, I spend a lot of time at dance competitions.  My daughter is a competitive dancer, with a focus on hip hop and jazz (check out her videos on Instagram: @officially.jessalia). 


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