Employee Spotlight: Abeer Khalaf

Updated
Abeer Khalaf

Abeer Khalaf joined runZero in June 2021 as a designer with a focus on UI/UX. As a designer, she primarily focuses on the look and feel of the runZero Console, as well as how customers will interact with it. Her journey to become a UI/UX designer wasn't straightforward. In college, she started as a psychology major, before switching to architecture, industrial design, and then graphic design. Eventually, she took a break from school to join a street art crew and traveled across the United States and Europe where she developed an appreciation for art from other countries and cultures.

After her trip, Clinton Collins, an engineer at runZero, reached out to see if she would be interested in joining his team. Clinton mentored Abeer and helped her learn to code. “I am finishing up my last year at Wayne State University, and I am studying graphic design. I learned that I could use my design knowledge for user interfaces, and it fascinated me,” said Abeer.

When asked how she would advise someone looking to become a UI/UX designer, she says that “if something fails or doesn’t work, don’t let it discourage you. Design is constantly changing and growing so let it encourage you to try something new. Take the time to learn about user research and apply that knowledge to your design process. Yes, it is an extra step, but it always pays off in the end.”

When asked how she has grown professionally since joining runZero, Abeer says, “I have more networking skills and know more industry terms. When it comes to explaining a design I have in mind, I'm a more visual person. So I have to visually show someone and explain it as I go through. My public speaking skills have gotten better as I've grown in my role.”

Abeer Khalaf

Q&A #

June is Pride Month! Pride Month commemorates and celebrates the activism and progress within the LGBTQIA+ community since the Stonewall Uprising. In celebration of Pride Month, we ask our team what this month means to them.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

Pride Month reminds me: you are not alone. It dedicates time for us to love and celebrate each other, but also bring attention to important LGBTQIA+ issues. While we've made progress on some issues, there are still so many more that we haven't made progress on or have regressed on.

What is something you are looking forward to doing to celebrate Pride Month?

I want to continue to be an ally and advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community and continue my own personal education. One of the ways I am doing this is by bringing awareness to the artistic community here in Detroit. Motor City Pride is a fantastic event that hosts cultural popups in abandoned warehouses. Attendance is all generated through word of mouth and social media.

What are some of the LGBTQIA+ issues that you feel are important for us to make progress on?

When it comes to talking about being LGBTQIA+, there are still so many places and spaces where we can't openly talk about who we are, or even feel safe being who we are. There are assumptions made about the LGBTQIA+ community. So, even when it comes to getting healthcare, there are obstacles preventing the LGBTQIA+ community from safely accessing proper medical care.

What are things you think people can do to educate themselves on the issues that impact the LGBTQIA+ community?

Talk and actively listen to people who are involved or have real-world experiences with LGBTQIA+ issues. Try to learn from educational resources that are unbiased and fact-check sources.

How can we become better allies for the LGBTQIA+ community?

Start with being open-minded and listening. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Use your opportunities to engage with the community as learning opportunities. Don't make any assumptions about who someone is, like their pronouns – instead, clarify with them directly. It's the best way to learn and build empathy.

Written by Thao Doan

More about Thao Doan
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