When Krystal Hardy Allen ‘07, founder of K. Allen Consulting, LLC and an alumna of the Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program, spoke to the Shades of Ebony student group on March 19th during the 5th Annual Women’s Week 2018, she emphasized the importance of community to success both at Notre Dame and beyond.
“Building a very special, meaningful sense of community with fellow cohort members is key. The Balfour-Hesburgh Program has been everything to me as a student, as a graduate, and even now in the professional world as I think about creating intentional communities like Balfour for the children and the students that I serve as an educator,” she explains.
“In order to feel a sense of confidence and affinity, young people often look up to and follow the examples of those that come before them, those who are often mirrors of what they too can aspire to be or transcend. It was important for me personally to be able to reach out and to see examples from the community of Balfour students that had similar profiles and were so successful academically and socially. This is only one of many reasons why representation, particularly at institutions like Notre Dame, matters."
Hardy Allen is a prime example of the wonderful leadership that flows from this program and the vast resources that accompany a Notre Dame education. During her time here on campus, she worked to affirm the voice of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups through coordinating and planning annual campus visits for high schools students who were considering or may have never considered Notre Dame as an option (formerly known as Spring Visitation Weekend); through being one of the founders of the Black Student Union; serving as an appointed student representative for Father Jenkin’s Diversity Advisory Council; and through service as President of the Notre Dame Voices of Faith Gospel Choir. Hardy Allen credits the Balfour community for giving her the confidence and support she needed to make Notre Dame her own.
After being an agent for change at Notre Dame, Hardy Allen is now on a mission to ensure educational equity within our nation’s K-12 educational landscape by supporting and advocating for kids, teachers, principals, and district leaders and the things they need to ensure every child has access to a quality, well-rounded education. K. Allen Consulting, LLC is a national education consultancy that specializes in providing professional development services - such as trainings, workshops, and executive leadership coaching - to K-12 school districts, universities, and education nonprofits. Their main goal is to equip teachers, leaders, and other practitioners with the tools needed to increase educational equity for students and families everywhere.
Krystal Hardy Allen worked with elementary school children in New Orleans
She travels across the country from classrooms to the Alabama State Capitol and even the White House in the name of championing change and strengthening public education for children everywhere. Traveling back to her alma mater to give this speech during Women’s History Month was an experience she says that she’ll never forget. Prior to founding and running her own consulting business, Hardy Allen gained experience as a classroom teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal, and principal, and uses both her successes and challenges within K-12 education to guide the work she does today.
She believes her experiences in the Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program gave her the “knowledge, skills, and tools to be successful as an entering freshman at the University of Notre Dame. It gave me a support system I needed as a student who was not Catholic, a native of a different geographic region than the majority of students hailed from, African-American, a first-generation college attendee, and from a different socioeconomic status than the majority of Notre Dame students. My Balfour experiences provided me the affinity, direction, and resources I needed, and the friendships made are timeless ones I leverage to this day."
This program, which recognizes the academic and social merits of high school students, champions diversity while also sticking to the University’s commitment to inclusion. Students chosen based off of their successful high-school careers are enabled to build a small learning community within the larger community here at the University, attending the BHSP Summer Institute and also being granted funding for an original research project of their choosing. As of today, 600 scholars have participated, and 97 current students find themselves thriving in the program. Qualified incoming first-year students are invited to apply by email starting April 16th.