Meet Christy Byrd: I Work Alongside My Students to Promote Social Change

“I hope my students will be inspired by my story: a first-generation college student who gets to do what she loves every day — work with awesome students to promote social change.”

This is part of a series of profiles of faculty who joined the NC State College of Education in 2018-19.

Christy Byrd

Title: Assistant Professor in Developmental Sciences
Department: Teacher Education and Learning Sciences
Education: Ph.D. in Education and Psychology, University of Michigan; M.S. in Psychology, University of Michigan; B.A. in Psychology, Agnes Scott College
Experience: Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of California-Santa Cruz; National Science Foundation Minority Research Fellow, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University 

Why I Chose the NC State College of Education: I was excited about the idea of joining colleagues who are working on issues of educational inequality in their research and outreach.

Why I Chose Education: Since undergrad, I have been interested in why some kids are successful and others aren’t. My psychology classes showed me that research could be very powerful for social change. Since then, I have learned to incorporate other disciplines into my work, but I still love psychology’s focus on the complexity of the individual.

Why I Pursued a Ph.D.: I loved the idea of creating my own research questions and designing the studies to answer them, so a Ph.D. was the only way to have the freedom to be part of all stages of the research process.

My Research Interests: I’m interested in understanding how adolescents, from middle schoolers to college students, perceive their school environment in terms of race and culture. I focus on their perceptions of cross-race interactions and what they learn about race, and how those perceptions affect their motivation and achievement.

How I Became Interested: I went to a diverse high school that was deeply segregated through tracking, and I went to college to become a high school teacher so other students of color could be successful, too. In college I discovered research and since then have been refining my focus, but still with that core idea in mind.

What I Hope My Students Learn From Me: I hope my students will be inspired by my story: a first-generation college student who gets to do what she loves every day — work with awesome students to promote social change.