Karima Knows Best

The bright yellow walls were adorned with accomplishments from her personal and professional life. Four clocks, showcasing the time in cities like Cozumel, London, Paris, and Moscow, ticked silently in the background. A huge mahogany bookcase filled with literature and decor takes up the most space behind the desk. To an outsider, it may appear intimidating. A space like this was something out of a movie, similar to that of a huge executive with tons of power and very little patience. Luckily, that’s not the case here.

This office belongs to Karima Haynes, professor and academic advisor at Bowie State University. She’s one of the many gems hidden at this Maryland-based institution, taking on multiple responsibilities on-campus with a smile and warm spirit. Her signature stride and black-rimmed glasses make her a staple in the Communications Department. It’s her journey from print to professor, however, that make Haynes relatable to her students.

“I’ve walked the walk already,” Haynes said, a glow present in her eye as she reminisces on her own experience not only as a professor but as the product of an HBCU education. “I know what it’s like to try and come up for money from financial aid to get into classes. I know what it’s like to have your classes dropped. I know what it’s like to live in a dorm. I know what it’s like to pledge a sorority. I know what it’s like to be involved in activities. I know that whole juggling of the culture of being at an HBCU. Everything they’ve gone through, I’ve been through already.”

Before making a huge mark in the world of print journalism, Professor Haynes attended Clark Atlanta University, then Clark College, in Atlanta, GA. It was there that she continued her love for writing through honing her craft and involving her fully in school-run publications. She was also able to build up the confidence needed to excel at a “brand name school” like Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

Haynes advocates for HBCUs strongly. Being able to experience both sides of the academic spectrum, she was able to compare and see what makes HBCUs so unique and vital to the community. Along with vocalizing her support of attending HBCUs, Haynes is also a fan of teaching there. In terms of the difference in the quality of students, Haynes describes HBCU students as the most willing amongst their peers to absorb the vast amount of information and knowledge she has to share.

And, boy — is it A LOT of knowledge! Haynes is a published journalist with a résumé filled with companies in the industry like EBONY and the Los Angeles Times, many of her stories framed around her office as constant reminders of her achievements. She also worked for smaller publications before transitioning into her role as a professor at Bowie State.

Her students at the university value everything Haynes has to offer them, often noting her willingness to assist them in their endeavors as the thing that draws them to her. Communications major Deantre Woodland says that Haynes is “the best professor he’s had thus far in his college career”. “She’s extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Professor Haynes is a great person and I am glad to have taken her,” Woodland continues.

Fellow Communications student and Print Journalism major Brianna Jordan feels like she can take a lot from Haynes’ story. I really want to be editor-in-chief of my own magazine,” Jordan said. “I really think she’d be a positive resource. I would love to get information on how to hopefully get a career in that field once I graduate from Bowie.”

When Haynes isn’t sparking inspiration or bringing the world of print to her students, she can be found working on her dissertation in the doctoral program at Bowie State University. She’s also managed to wear the hats of “wife” and “mother”. She and her husband have been together for 27+ years and living happily in marital bliss. “I’m in the prime of my life,” Haynes said as she started to talk about her children’s transition from kids to young adults. Her son is a junior at Biola University in California, studying film and even fundraising on Kickstarter for a thesis project he co-wrote called “The Rise of the Projector”. Her daughter, coincidentally enough, is a journalism major at California Baptist University.

Karima Haynes is definitely a woman on the move. An HBCU professor, doctoral student, journalist, mother, wide, and inspiration. Her passion for her career partnered with her beautiful aura make her one of the valuable assets at her university. As for what she wants students to take from her, Haynes says “persistence, effort, and belief. That’s what I hope I instill — that confidence in all my students.”

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