A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life: Waliah RaKhem, CRA

4:30 AM — Parker meows me awake after making sure all 16 pounds of his body weight are on my belly. It is time for me to get up and feed the cat. I settle down after filling his bowl and refreshing his water. Working from home is a definite privilege that I can truly appreciate after working at Washington University for over 20 years. Although I only live ten minutes away from the Medical School campus in University City, morning traffic on Forest Park Parkway is always a bear. I am thankful I do not have to face it every day.

8:00 AM — Time for coffee from my favorite coffee shop: Kaldi’s on Skinker. It is nice to see the regulars, patrons, and baristas. The baristas are more than familiar with my regular order. Quadruple shot vanilla latte extra sweet. It gets me alert and going for the day. I come home to respond to SLACK messages, email messages, and of course, to review any proposal budgets in the queue. We have the best team in Research Administration in Anesthesiology. We laugh, converse, and connect all day through every channel we can. It is great considering we hardly ever see each other in person, but we learn a lot about each other and get closer every day.

My days consist of answering questions about proposals, helping teammates with questions about proposals, and asking questions about proposals. It is all about proposals, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! Once all of the questions are answered and the emails are responded to, I log back off to make sure Parker is fed (albeit he is usually fed a few times during the day) and check in with my significant other, Vince.

We’re getting our weekend plans together. Whether it’s going to a winery, a new restaurant, traveling to a different city, or just checking out a local event, we try to do something every weekend. We both have adult children, so now is the time to rediscover St. Louis and dive into those hobbies that we put on hold during our years of child rearing. He has a 27-year-old daughter finishing her PhD at SLU and I have a 22-year-old son making a new life in Baltimore, MD. Mostly done, but always parents.

On any particular weekend, we may have brunch at Half and Half in Clayton (my favorite brunch spot), visit a new spot across the river in Illinois, or take off for a weekend to discover someplace new. This day, we are planning on going to Tumeric in the Loop—my favorite Indian restaurant and my idea of complete comfort food. Summers you can find us grilling every Wednesday. We invite friends and family over so that everyone can enjoy the smoked chicken, fish, steak, and veggies. Fall grilling includes a bonfire, but we make sure to always involve people we love.

Our adventures…

Enough about my adventures as a wanna-be foodie… Working in Research Administration has been such a great job. Now I get the honor of being an Equity Champion. Diversity and Inclusion has always been something close to my heart.  Raised as a Muslim and a Black woman, I feel like I have been fighting for equity as early as I can remember. It’s been such an inspiration to me to be a part of an institution that has made it part of its mission to acknowledge its part in inequities encountered in St. Louis and to intentionally make sure those inequities are remedied. I’m looking forward to providing a means for those disenfranchised here at the university to make their voices heard.  It’s an exciting endeavor! There is so much work to be done and so much support available. This has been the best time of my career here at Washington University and I am so excited for more!