Meet incoming NYU Steinhardt graduate student Kyra Williams, who will be pursuing her master's in Digital Media Design for Learning (DMDL).
Why are you excited to study digital media design?
I’ve always viewed education as the gateway to change in our society. Students of color, especially Black students, are marginalized in our education system due to our country’s history and specifically the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education. This ruling of integration in 1954 framed Black people as inferior in this space, which still impacts us today. As a multimedia content creator, I’m looking forward to developing educational media that prioritizes Black needs in this shift to virtual education during COVID-19 and beyond. I hope to extend access to information that physical materials and in-person learning limits for students of color. I’m also hoping to create documentary-style case studies that elevate professional development and anti-racist trainings in public schools. I began interviewing educators on diversity and inclusion in high school and undergrad and I’m looking forward to completing this work as a grad student.
You were an NYU undergrad – what made you decide to attend graduate school at Steinhardt as well?
I loved attending school in the city and being immersed in its rich arts culture as a Tisch and Clive Davis Institute student. But as a sophomore, I took a Steinhardt course called “American Dilemmas: Race, Inequality, & the Unfulfilled Promise of Public Education.” That Spring semester, I accepted my calling to education reform. Being Steinhardt’s student videographer and photographer for over two years also exposed me to the department and how it prepares its students to contribute to social change within this sector. After doing some research and finding the DMDL program, I realized that my creativity wouldn’t be stifled in this quest and there was just so much telling me that Steinhardt was the right next step for me to fulfill my purpose.
What are you up to this summer?
Since the fall, I’ve been working on my nonprofit, “Stories In My Backyard.” It’s a Philadelphia-based arts, education, and social change organization that provides online and in-person learning to Black women and girls through arts workshops, community events, and creative content. The goal is to amplify Black female voices and provide access to arts education while creating social awareness and action through art, discussions, and environments that highlight social justice issues impacting our livelihood. I had my first photo workshop back in October where I taught ten middle-school-aged Black girls the basics of photography. That day, I knew I was beginning to fulfill my purpose.
With the time that I have this summer, this is my moment to add some finishing touches as I prepare for a soft launch and eventually make everything official as a 501(c)(3) during my time at Steinhardt. I’m really excited to combine my love for the arts and education to give back to my hometown and the Black community at large. I’m also looking forward to the impact that the DMDL program will have on the growth of this venture.
What question would you like us to ask the next incoming graduate student we spotlight and what would your answer be?
Given the unrest in our society today, how are you using your skill sets to contribute to social change for Black people?
My answer: I’m amplifying Black female voices, in a world that silences us the most. Through art, media, and education, I’m helping Black women and girls develop their voices to express themselves, share their experiences, and speak out against injustice while providing access to creative learning that's limited for us.
Follow Kyra at @thekyrawilliams.