Graduate student studies leadership to make change

A scholar-practitioner

By Taylor Provine

Graduate student Chibuzor Mirian Azubuike already has an impressive list of life accomplishments.

She’s a public speaker and the author of two books: the bestselling “The Girl Who Found Water” and the children’s book “My Birthmark, My Gift.” She also has created a clean water nonprofit, the Haske Water Aid and Empowerment Foundation, and empowers others to seek scholarly and personal development opportunities.

But she’s not stopping there.

Azubuike, from Nigeria, is pursuing her doctorate in the leadership communication program in Kansas State University’s Staley School of Leadership. She is researching her passions of women’s issues and leadership and is applying her life’s philosophy to her work.

“I describe myself as a scholar-practitioner,” Azubuike said. “A scholar-practitioner is one to me who not only does research but also implements the solutions in real-life situations. A scholar-practitioner is a change-maker who is actively involved in social change.”

For her doctoral dissertation, she is studying the resilience of Indigenous women.

“Women have been studied a lot from a place of disposition and powerlessness, but I think women have been practicing leadership in many ways and there is a lot to learn from those daily practices of leadership,” Azubuike said. “I’m looking at resilience and how women have been resilient over the years.”

Azubuike conducted a pilot study that included interviews and a literature review of previous scholarly work on the resilience of Indigenous women. “The pilot study has shown the potentials of studying Indigenous women and people can learn a lot from that as pertaining to how to lead in difficult situations,” she said. “The findings from this research will also be useful in creating a leadership model and programs for women.”

A committed change-maker, Azubuike is the founder of the Haske Water Aid and Empowerment Foundation, which has provided clean water for more than 60,000 Nigerians.

For her commitment to women’s issues, Azubuike was awarded the International Doctoral Degree Fellowship from the American Association of University Women. She also has received several awards and fellowships, including the Outstanding Researcher Award from the Staley School of Leadership, a Mandela Washington Fellowship, a Next Generation of African Scholars Fellowship from the Social Science Research Council, a Harry Frank Guggenheim Young African Scholar Award and many other awards.

Azubuike and her adviser, Andy Wefald, associate professor of leadership, recently received a mini-grant from the Association of Leadership Educators to facilitate a workshop for 30 women change-makers. The workshop was available in a hybrid format with an in-person option in Onitsha, Nigeria. The participants described the learning experience as new and transformational.