Khaila Donaldson, Howard University junior and outside hitter, was named 2016 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Player of the Year, as announced by the league on Wednesday.  In a recent interview, Donaldson humbly describes her career, her inspirations, and future goals with the Howard University volleyball team as they celebrate winning the 2016 MEAC championship. She speaks with an eloquence that depicts the pride and dedication she has for the sport of volleyball and for her team. Ultimately, she makes it clear that though she’s proud of her accomplishments, she’s far from finished.

When did you start playing volleyball and why did you choose to play at Howard?

I started playing volleyball in the 8th grade. Initially, they offered me an athletic scholarship, but I also received an academic scholarship. I feel that the academic value at Howard is unmatched, and that was the most important aspect for me.

What’s been your favorite moment so far in your volleyball career?

My favorite moment would have to be a tie between making it to the NCAA tournament last year and beating Clemson University this year.

How do you keep the balance between excelling in your sport and all of the other things on your plate as a college student?

Well it’s definitely a struggle sometimes, but I love being a student at Howard and I love being a volleyball player at Howard. It makes it easier to balance when you have so much love and passion for both.

Who would you say are your biggest inspirations?

That’s a hard one. I’d probably say Michelle Obama. I try to personify her elegance and grace. Also, I’d say my parents because they’ve always inspired and encouraged me to break though stereotypes and barriers and be the best I can be.

What do you feel that you bring to the Howard University volleyball team?

I think I bring a sense of stability. I try to play the same game each time. I also try to bring leadership by leading by example through my play and attitude. It’s importance that I bring maturity, especially because of the fact that we have six freshmen coming in next year.

Now that you’ve accomplished such a big feat as MEAC player of the year, what’s next for you goal wise?

I have the same goal: to make it to the Sweet 16 with my team. Individuals feats are always great, but team goals mean so much more. I can’t win the national championship by myself.

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