Staff Spotlight: Dr. Tara Nkrumah
This month we are highlighting our very talented Assistant Research Professor, Dr. Tara Nkrumah! Dr. Nkrumah has been with the center for almost two years and has put so much work into the core curriculum we deliver in our CompuGirls and CompuPower programming. Dr. Nkrumah led the charge in establishing professional development sessions for our CompuPower teachers and was instrumental in ensuring the curriculum was truly culturally responsive. She mentors graduate and undergraduate student workers and works with other scholars to conduct studies and publish those results.
Dr. Nkrumah is truly an asset to our organization, an amazing instructor, and fun to be around to boot! We are delighted to have her share more about herself and her passions with all of you so be sure to send her a shout-out on our social media pages!
Top Three Life Highlights
Having the opportunity to hear Dr. Kizzmekia Corbitt speak at the Girls in Tech orientation about the development of the Moderna vaccine and her journey to become an immunologist.
Celebrating 17 years of marriage to my prince – Dr. Sekou Nkrumah
A recent publication that is near and dear to my heart “Problems of Portrayal: Hidden Figures in the development of science educators”
What inspires you?
Often when asked this question, I always recognize my grandmother and dad for developing my science identity so this time I want to acknowledge my sweet mother who inspires me to persevere in hardship and lead with a servant heart. My mother taught me to be disciplined and love the unlovable so it is because of her example that inspires my work today.
My two professional passions are writing culturally responsive curriculum and preparing teachers to become culturally responsive. Since the beginning of my teaching career, I have written science curriculum. Being brought up by my dad to see the science all around me, motivates me to write curriculum that is culturally responsive so students from all backgrounds experience science education as part of their daily life. The other passion, teacher preparation in culturally responsive teaching is equally fun for me to work with teachers on innovative ways to contextualize science content within a social issue to promote social change.
Every educator should read Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed book. After reading that book, I better understood the transformative power of education to liberate individuals. Two other books that influence my style of pedagogy are bell hooks Teaching to Transgress and Patricia Hill-Collins' Intersectionality as Critical Social Theory.
What is something that you learned recently?
During the pandemic I started a virtual cooking group that meets monthly and rotates who will be the chef. For the month of June, the chef taught us how to prepare a French dish Coq Au Vin, a Chicken with Wine. Since January when we started I have learned so many new recipes that I look forward to showing off at large social events post-pandemic.
What is the best thing about your job?
My research examines equitable teaching practices for anti-oppressive discourse and practices in education and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Here at CGEST, the work I do with the research in culturally responsive computing perfectly aligns with my goals and expands on the ways I can contribute to social change through gender equity. Another best thing about my job is the mentorship under Dr. Scott on writing grants and building coalitions locally and internationally to disrupt barriers to participants from African American, Native American, Latinx populations, in particular, girls/women of color in STEM.
What has been one of your proudest moments at CGEST?
In June we held the first in-person girls in tech camp for 33 girls. During the camp, I facilitated exercises using Theatre of the Oppressed to engage the girls in conversations around identity, power, and culture. Less than a week after the camp ended, I received a beautiful email testimony from someone who attended the camp expressing how what I taught her about not letting the world define her potential and to believe she can do and be whatever she desired really was the proudest moment of 2021, thus far.
What has been the most impactful tech innovation you use in your everyday life?
Apple Watch. I rely a lot on it to track my exercise, emails, text messages, and it’s so convenient with the DUO authentication to easily approve it from my watch.
I am committed to advancing equity for women of color in STEM because...
when one learns STEM as a part of their identity, it promotes wellbeing and a prosperous society.
Thank you again to Dr. Nkrumah for sharing with us all and we are blessed to have you as such an integral part of our team!