Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Nakia Douglas, UNT Dallas

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Nakia Douglas and family


Nakia Douglas has devoted his career to mentoring and shaping our young future leaders in his hometown of Dallas. At UNT Dallas since 2017, Nakia designs and implements ‘holistic, non-traditional educational experiences for first-generation and historically disenfranchised students.’ Before starting at the southern Dallas campus five years ago, Nakia was the founding principal of the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, which opened in southern Dallas in 2011. He has received many professional honors including the 2015 Dallas Independent School District Magnet Principal of the Year, KERA American Graduate Champion and DISD Exemplary Principal. In June 2020, Nakia delivered this impassioned interview for WFAA's moving video series, "While I have your attention."


What is your favorite aspect of your job?  
Supporting the development of new and innovative programs/services for our students, team members, campus and community. The ability to plan, design and implement transformative holistic learning experiences for our participants reminds me of designing lesson plans as a teacher. 

What led you to your particular field of study/expertise?
My Mom and Great Professional Educators who cared, nurtured and expected excellence from my classmates and myself. Witnessing their commitment to my education, developed my sense of responsibility and service to others in an effort to pay forward the gifts I received as a student.  

Can you explain what an Executive Director – TRIO (Federal and local outreach and student services programs) and Pre-Collegiate Programs do at UNT Dallas?
Our departmental mission statement is “Develop students’ academic, emotional, ethical, physical and social skills for transformational impact in life, school and leadership.” Ultimately, we provide holistic services (through federal, state and local grants) to our students (UNT Dallas, Local ISD’s and Community Partners) to equip them for success within their lives - today and tomorrow. Whether pre–collegiate, collegiate, social/emotional, academic and/or non – traditional programs, we guide and support our participants in pursuit of personal and professional goals.   

What do you see happening next regarding opportunities?
Pre – Collegiate and Workforce Readiness programs/ opportunities must become a part of the fabric within our Elementary and Middle schools (specifically traditionally disenfranchised communities); if we want them to dream and seek to achieve those dreams through their High School and Collegiate studies. If they are unaware and unexposed to the limitless opportunities in our society, they will never learn to believe, achieve and succeed within their own innate giftedness.  

Do you have any favorite or memorable experiences connected to your time at UNT Dallas?
Over the past five years at UNT Dallas, the most memorable experiences have been witnessing the ongoing growth of our campus which has included opening of new facilities (Dormitory, Student Center and Ryan Tower), Student Enrollment increases, new degree programs, new student organizations and the launch of our Athletics program. Each of these initiatives have continually added to the culture, traditions and personality of our campus. 

What is your proudest work moment? 
Building out the portfolio of programs and services we provide across the campus and throughout the community. We currently provide services through the following programs: TRIO (McNair Scholars, Talent Search and Upward Bound) and Pre–Collegiate (Community Youth Development (CYD) – Rising Blazers).

What is your proudest nonwork moment? 
Witnessing my wife and kids joy in finding their passions and purpose in life. 

Do you have any (professional or personal) recommendations that you would like to share?
Remain a life – long learner: When we stop learning, we stop growing.

What is a fact about you that may surprise your colleagues?
I am a 1st Gen student and an alumnus of TRIO Programs (Upward Bound and Student Support Services).


Book?: Any title by Mark Batterson. He is a master of understanding and intertwining faith within the context of our daily life experiences. The Bible: The roadmap to understanding our journey through life.   

A place to visit?: West Africa (I traveled there twice in High School) “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey. Learning about my heritage was just if not more significant than my studies in my discovery of the person and professional I was to become in the future.

Charitable cause?:
Housing Forward (Formerly Metro Dallas Homelessness Alliance)
Harmony Community Development Center
Engage Dallas (formerly Mayors Star Council)
Friends of Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy