Who's who in ORDI
The Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion team
We focus on excellence in graduate student research, teaching, and service through innovative recruitment, diversity, and inclusion initiatives.
Shernita Lee, Director
Assistant Dean Shernita Lee directs the Graduate School's recruitment efforts in coordination with the university's graduate programs, and manages our inclusion and diversity programs. Lee’s training is in computational biology but she also specializes in student engagement and programming, and outreach.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Alabama State University and a
doctorate from Virginia Tech in genetics, bioinformatics, and computational biology. Her research concentrations include the student mentoring experience, factors influencing a student’s experience and success, and the development of interactive activities to promote STEM exposure to K-12 populations.
Lee is passionate about creating a diverse and inclusive environment for graduate students, improving graduate student retention, aiding in the navigation of challenges graduate students encounter, and directing students to university/departmental resources and advocates to help them successfully complete their degree.
Justin Grimes, Assistant Director
Justin Grimes, Ph.D., is the Assistant Director for the Office of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion (known as ORDI). Prior to starting employment at Virginia Tech, he served in different roles at the University of Central Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma, Temple University, The University of Georgia, and The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
Grimes holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems, Minor in African American Studies, and Master’s degree in Workforce
Development Education with an Emphasis on Human Resource Education, all from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He also holds a Ph.D. in Counseling and Student Personnel Services from the University of Georgia.
In his spare time, Grimes likes to volunteer in the community, travel, mentor youth, and serve as a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He has presented both regionally and nationally on professional development, leadership in Higher Education, and mentoring students and professionals in K-16.
Grimes is passionate about the issue of marginalization and socialization of graduate students, mentorship for staff members and students of color, and research on motivation.
Zuleka Dauda is second year doctoral student in the Planning, Governance and Globalization program in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. Her current research interest centers on race and power structures in international programs.
Zuleka is originally from Liberia, West Africa. Prior to coming to the ORDI family, she worked with the Global Engineering, Engagement and Research Office. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Zuleka worked at Ferrum College with First Generation students and as a member of the Academic Resource Team.
Zuleka also worked for three years in Rural Liberia, West, for Tubman University and two years with cultural centers and Global Service office at Northeastern University in Boston.
Outside of school, Zuleka prides herself on being a community organizer and loves working with diverse populations to collaborate on efforts to secure social change. She writes for “Sleepless in Monrovia,” a blog dedicated to highlighting various social justice and societal issues on the African continent, with an emphasis on female writers. In her free time, she curates content on social media to counter the too often voiced narrative of a “helpless” Africa. She loves traveling, dressing, playing Mas in Caribbean carnivals and being an aunt to a spoiled Maltese.
Yousef Jalali is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Engineering Education. His dissertation study focuses on process-oriented illustration of interinstitutional collaboration and explores the quality of faculty collaboration, facilitated by the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) at Virginia Tech, specifically by focusing on broad questions about the sustainability of research collaboration. He has been the graduate coordinator for the NSF/Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program on interdisciplinary water science and engineering from 2017-2020.
Yousef has taught for about 6 years in his home country, Iran, and for several semesters at Virginia Tech. He also provided service and leadership in different capacities. He established programming to provide professional development opportunities for graduate students at Lehigh University. He also served as President of Iranian Society at Virginia Tech.
Within the community, Yousef has worked as a volunteer with the Blacksburg Refugee Partnership.
As part of the ORDI Staff, Shania assists with program support and event planning including, but not limited to, coordinating
reservations, technical support, and catering requirements for all events, conducting yearly planning and priority setting for all events and assisting the Director and Graduate Assistants with various initiatives. Shania also issues fee waivers to prospective students and maintains oversight and tracking of applications, including supporting materials for the Diversity Scholars program. In her spare time, she likes to participate in community-based events, volunteer, and spend time with family and friends. Shania earned a degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration Police Science and has previously worked in law enforcement. She is currently studying Communications.