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Each election year, KBIA sits down with local candidates to hear what they have to say on their own terms. Some of these candidates you might see on TV every day. Others might be familiar by name only, if that. But KBIA interviews them all so that you can be informed when you go to the polls in November.

Exam - Columbia School Board Candidate Conversation with Della Streaty-Wilhoit

Kassidy Arena

Ardella Streaty-Wilhoit, or more commonly known as Della, is passionate about educating youth. She describes herself as a family woman first and candidate for the Columbia Public School’s Board of Education second.

“I got up one morning, and I just simply told my husband, you know, I think I will file for school board,” Streaty-Wilhoit said. Her shoulders shook as she laughed about the out-of-the-blue assertion.

Streaty-Wilhoit grew up in a household of 12. Her parents instilled in her and her siblings that education is wealth, and there are no shortcuts. Streaty-Wilhoit took this advice seriously. She earned her PhD in Food and Natural Resources at MU at 50 years old.

“My two children are actually close to 25 years apart. I had one too young and I had another one too old,” Streaty-Wilhoit said. “And I say that with a smile because there’s no such thing as that. There really isn’t.”

Even though she spent some time away from school to raise her children, Streaty-Wilhoit was the first in her family to acquire a PhD. Her nieces and nephews followed in her footsteps.

Her niece April earned her PhD last December and spoke about her aunt during a speech: “She stood in front of so many people and told people that I was her ‘she-ro.’”

Streaty-Wilhoit said Columbia residents will vote for her because they will see her confidence and communication skills. She plans on advancing STEM education and equal opportunities for minority students and female students. The spunky retiree said she knows all of her ideas may not be implemented during her lifetime, but she can set the gears in motion.

Streaty-Wilhoit smiled and said “I want to do extraordinary things, but I’m just an ordinary person.”

The election for the Columbia Board of Education will take place April 2 for two open positions. Streaty-Wilhoit is running against fellow MU graduate Jay Atkins and current MU doctoral student Blake Willouhby.

Exam is hosted by Molly Dove