Caring for USI students is a family affair

Dr. Khalilah Doss, Vice President for Student Affairs, experienced 9/11 as an international undergraduate student in Illinois. Her mother, Precious Watt, watched the news and worried from her home in Jamaica—1,600 miles away.

Dr. Khalilah Doss, right, and her mom, Precious Watt, show the masks they madeNearly two decades later, Doss is helping USI students—international and domestic—as they experience a life-changing pandemic. This time, she and her mother are under the same roof. Watt now lives with Doss and her husband, Dameion, a Deputy Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator at USI. “One Sunday night as I was participating in a Zoom meeting with our international students, she asked me, ‘Do the students on campus have masks? And how are they holding up being away from their families?’” says Doss.

Though some masks have been donated, Watt is making more. As the primary caregiver for the Dosses' children during the workday, she sews in the evening. “Prior to migrating to the United States to live with us, she ran her own bed and breakfast and was also a seamstress,” explains Doss. “She understands too well what it is like being away from a loved one during a world crisis. I have helped, minimally, but she is the true genius behind this.”

Around 30 masks are headed to USI Housing. Students can arrange for pick up, at no cost, while supplies last.

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