Nichole Pinkard (PhD98), an innovator in education and the founder of the Digital Youth Network, is the recipient of the 2014 Northwestern University Alumni Association Alumni Merit Award for the School of Education and Social Policy. Alumni merit awards are presented for high achievements in a profession or field of endeavor.
A leader in education research today, Pinkard founded the Digital Youth Network, a ground-breaking after-school and in-school literacy program that has helped hundreds of Chicago youth learn digital media skills. She also co-founded YOUmedia, a model digital literacy program where mentors work with high school students to create new media from traditional media, and co-created Remix World, a social learning network that connects youth learning opportunities in school, home and beyond.
Currently, Pinkard is an associate professor in DePaul University’s College of Computing and Digital Media. She has earned a National Science Foundation Early Career Fellowship, the Jan Hawkins Award for Early Career Contributions to Humanistic Research and Scholarship in Learning Technologies and the 2010 Common Sense Media Award. She also serves on the national advisory board of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, a research and innovation lab that educates children in a changing media world.
Pinkard’s relationship with Northwestern started when she participated as a high school student in the University’s LEAD (LEADership, Education, and Development) program, part of a national nonprofit that helps youth of diverse backgrounds become high achievers and responsible leaders. She returned to Northwestern to pursue a PhD in learning sciences.
“As a PhD student, I learned to think interdisciplinarily, to think outside the box, to believe and defend my ideas, and to understand that context matters,” she says.
Since 1932, the NAA has honored alumni who have distinguished themselves as outstanding professional and personal achievers in their fields and who have loyally dedicated their time and service to their alma mater.
The ceremony to honor Northwestern's 2014 alumni award winners was held on April 12. An audience of close to 400 alumni, faculty, administrators, family and friends gathered to celebrate Northwestern University’s 81st annual alumni awards. Welcoming addresses were given by Dan Jones, president of the Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA) and a 1961 business alumnus, and Laura Wayland, executive director of the NAA. In his opening remarks, Northwestern President Morton Schapiro thanked award recipients for their impressive contributions to the world and to Northwestern.
Photo: Alumni award recipient Nichole Pinkard with Dean Penelope Peterson