Women in conversation in a conference room.

UMBC’s Danyelle Ireland is named a national Rising Star as champion for transfer students

The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students has named UMBC’s Danyelle Tauryce Ireland a 2021 Transfer Champion Rising Star. The award honors her years mentoring and advocating for UMBC transfer students in information technology and engineering fields.

Ireland is associate director of the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT). She is also a research assistant professor in the Engineering and Computing Education Program within UMBC’s College of Engineering and Information Technology (COEIT).

“My professional background has been in K-12 education and some of my first experiences supporting students in higher education have been with the Transfer Scholars in IT and Engineering (T-SITE) program at UMBC,” says Ireland. “I identify as an educational scholar-practitioner, so to be recognized for my impact in service of students, and to have a former T-SITE Scholar contribute to the nomination process, was especially validating.” 

Portrait of a black woman in a striped blazer and turtleneck shirt, wearing pin that reads "UMBC."
Danyelle Ireland

Partnership to support students

Ireland arrived at UMBC in 2016 with a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Howard University, having focused her research on the achievement motivation and retention of Black undergraduate women in computing fields. At UMBC, she began working on a new five-year National Science Foundation grant to examine pathways for computing and engineering students who transferred to UMBC from other institutions. 

This was her first opportunity to work specifically on the needs and experiences of transfer students, grounded in her expertise on computing and engineering education, culturally responsive pedagogy, academic motivation, and social identity.

“The grant proposal was led by my predecessor, Susan Martin, but was awarded after she left UMBC and began the same day I started in the role, so I got to make this project my own,” Ireland says. 

Ireland led the integration and implementation of two nationally validated survey instruments, examining pre- and post-transfer student success. She also worked with campus partners to establish transfer-focused interventions in COEIT.

Five women in conversation, smiling. One wears a shirt with UMBC logo. Another's shirt says 20 Years CWIT.
Danyelle Ireland (second from right) with CWIT students in February 2020.

“I quickly learned a tremendous amount about the institutional structures that facilitate successful student supports. I also learned the benefit of good relationships with colleagues to carry out this important work,” she says.

Ireland collaborated closely with six area community colleges and the team was granted an additional year to implement their findings at UMBC. Always focused on the student experience, she is particularly eager to institutionalize UMBC’s enhanced academic advising approach for COEIT transfer students. She has also explored how COVID-19 has impacted faculty and staff participants in the transfer learning community.

Visibility for the work

In a time full of challenges, Ireland says, “Receiving this award this year was a nice boost to my morale and motivation in my role.” In addition to honoring her work, the award brings greater visibility to UMBC’s transfer student population and to how the university can most effectively support their success. 

“I’m really excited about how we can leverage all of the lessons and experiences gained through CWIT’s work around transfer success in computing and engineering,” says Ireland. “The response from colleagues and partners committed to supporting UMBC transfer students has been so encouraging.”

Featured image: Danyelle Ireland, associate director of CWIT and research assistant professor, with CWIT students. All photos by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC, February 2020.