Ypsilanti Immigration Interview: Cassie Byrd

It took a long time, but my persistance paid off, and I was finally able to track down the very busy Cassie Byrd for her mandatory immigration interview. Cassie, for those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of making her acquaintance, is a relatively recent transplant from San Francisco, and a veritable whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm when it comes to getting girls interested, and keeping them interested, in science.

cassieypsi4MARK: My memory is a bit foggy, but I believe we talked quite some time ago at the behest of a mutual friend, Ruth Marks. Ruth, who left Ypsi for Oakland about three or four years ago, wanted to let me know that you were planning to move out this way from San Francisco… Is that right?

CASSIE: That’s correct. That would have been April 2014.

MARK: Before we get into your move to Ypsi, I’m curious as to how you came to meet Ruth.

CASSIE: Such a great happenstance! I was sitting in my office at the Exploratorium, where I worked at the time. In walks a colleague who was giving Ruth a tour of the building and making introductions. My colleague told us that Ruth was looking to do some volunteer work and had a background in the arts. I ran a program that utilized volunteers, so I asked her if she’d like to help me out. I asked about her background and she mentioned that she had started a children’s art center in “this little town in Michigan, near Ann Arbor, that you’ve probably never heard of.” I said, “Well, I’m going to be moving to that area, what town?” “Ypsilanti” she replied. “My partner and I just bought a house in Ypsi!”, I screamed.” Ruth then connected me with so many amazing people – even before I moved here… Thanks, Ruth!

MARK: So it wasn’t that you just met Ruth in San Francisco and felt as though you had to live in this quirky, little midwestern town where she grew up?

CASSIE: No, my partner had gotten into a joint doctoral program in Sociology and Social Work at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor.

MARK: And why did you choose Ypsi over Ann Arbor? Was the decision strictly economic?

CASSIE: Well, the housing prices were much more reasonable, yes. But, no, it wasn’t a strictly economic decision. From the moment we toured Ypsi, we could see the diversity and feel the community-spirit of the town. Our house is on a bus route and very close to the Border To Border Trail. Both of these were important factors for my partner, who wanted to feel close enough, but not too close, to the U-M campus. Another driving factor was being very close to the Health and Fitness Center. I swim to take care of my back, and that pool is amazing.

MARK: So, what were you doing at the Exploratorium?

CASSIE: For almost 10 years, I was a science educator there. During my time there, I created the Homeschool Science Program and the Girls Science Institute. The girls’ program is my passion, pride and joy… As an undergrad, I was an engineering major – along with three other women. At a meeting in the office of my college of engineering’s dean, he literally told me that women were unwelcome in the program. I left his office in tears and decided to change my major to biology. After college, I worked as a molecular biologist for the Air Force. And it was while I was there, conducting trainings, that I realized that I was both good at teaching, and really loved it. The Exploratorium was the perfect place to merge my laboratory career with my love of teaching science.

MARK: Assuming this dean is still alive, I’m curious if you’ve ever considered reaching out to him and letting him know that your life’s work is now ensuring that other young women have the ability to do what he had stopped you from doing.

CASSIE: Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, I can’t recall his name. I recently tried to do a little detective work to uncover his identity, but my Google prowess failed. I’m ok with that, though. I’m not sure I want to dig into an event that happened so long ago. Additionally, he likely wouldn’t remember a short meeting with a struggling female student from 22 years ago.

MARK: But clearly it was an exchange that affected you deeply.

CASSIE: Yes, the experience left me with an indelible understanding of the complexity of girls’ experiences in STEM fields. And it wasn’t just that exchange. I didn’t have any support for college success. As an eldest child with three younger siblings, I was on track to become the first in my family (parents included) to receive a college degree. But, because my parents had not completed college, I had no support in understanding how to study for my college courses, nor how to navigate the college system. In short, I also lacked out-of-school experiences that would have strengthened my understanding of STEM topics and provided me with non-family mentors to help me succeed.

MARK: Were you born in California?

CASSIE: No, but I got there as fast as I could! Though I identify with the Northern California mentality, I was actually born in Illinois and raised in Texas.

CassieYpsi2bMARK: What’s your first memory?

CASSIE: I have this fuzzy memory of sitting in the snow in front of an old white two-story house. I asked my mom about this memory once and she told me it was from when we lived in Waukegan, Illinois while my dad was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Training Station – where I was born. I must have been less than one year old. I’ve often wondered if that house is still there and if seeing it would resonate with that memory.

MARK: How long have you been here in Michigan now?

CASSIE: I rolled into Ypsi with a Penski truck full of my stuff on September 2, 2014 – after an amazing week-long drive across the country. I highly recommend South Dakota for nature lovers. I was stunned by the contrasting beauty of the Black Hills and the Badlands. And, camping from the back of a moving truck definitely sparked some interesting conversations with curious park visitors.

MARK: So, do you have any questions for my readers? Do you need to know about trash pick-up, the local library system, good places to eat, tips on local bus routes?

CASSIE: One good thing is that my partner was here for a year before I moved out, so we’ve got the bus route, trash day, and library all figured out. I have my library card, and I was busy this past cold and snowy winter learning to cross country ski with the wonderful folks in the Washtenaw Ski Touring Club. (Thanks Lucy!) The things I’m still seeking after being here for about six months are… 1) Good long distance road biking routes. (I just signed up for the Baroudeur Century, if ayone wants to ride with me.) And 2) an alternative way of getting to work in Dearborn. I work at U-M Dearborn and the drive is terribly boring, plus it increases my carbon footprint! Coming from San Francisco, where I biked to work daily, this has been a real challenge. I looked into a train/bike combo, but the first train leaving Ann Arbor isn’t until 1:00 PM! Until I can afford a more fuel efficient vehicle, are there any Ypsi folks who also work in Dearborn who would want to carpool? Also, I would love to hear all about events / things to do / places to see that your readers want to share – I’m quite eclectic in my interests.

MARK: It’s still probably over a year away, but eventually we’re supposed to get a Depot Town stop on the Ann Arbor – Detroit line, which will also have a stop in Dearborn. As there will just be a few trips a day, it may not be perfect, but our hope is that, if we can demonstrate need, it’ll grow over time. At least that’s the hope.

CASSIE: That would be fabulous! I’ll show my support for such mass transit. I can imagine a future where the innovation efforts in Detroit draw folks from Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. There are so many good things happening in Detroit – I’d love to see regularly scheduled trains throughout SE Michigan.

MARK: So, what is it that you’re doing at U-M Dearborn?

CASSIE: I’ve recently started work as part of the Extended Learning and Outreach team at U-M Dearborn College of Engineering and Computer Science to create teacher training programs to help teachers incorporate engineering design principles into their curriculum and to develop engineering-focused summer camps for K-12 students. This move is in response to calls for help from local teachers and to increase community engagement and interest in STEM fields and careers.

This work stems from the National Research Council (along with the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve) recommendations for updated science education standards called the Next Generation Science Standards. These new standards incorporate engineering design alongside already taught scientific inquiry. So, my role will be creating a collaboration between the School of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and local teachers to help facilitate incorporating these new standards.

MARK: I understand that your work in Ypsi may decrease a bit now that you’re employed full time in Dearborn, but you’ve been quite busy here in the community since your arrival in town. You taught a Mars rover-inspired girls’ science program at EMU that my daughter and I participated in. You’ve done work with FLY Children’s Art Center, helping them launch their Fabulous Contraptions series. And, if I understand correctly, you’ve done work inside Ypsi Public Schools through the Bright Futures program. I’m curious as to what you may have learned about the community, and our kids, as a result.

CASSIE: Yes, I was fortunate to meet many of the local players in the field of informal STEM education before starting my current job — the folks at the Center for Engineering Diversity and Outreach in Ann Arbor, who introduced me to Jamie Saville of Women in Science and Engineering, who introduced me to Russ Olwell, the Director of GEAR UP at Eastern. It was through Russ that I was able to teach the program that you and your daughter participated in.

I did work with the fabulous folks at FLY. I guided them to the activities that they incorporated into their Fabulous Contraptions workshop series that explored the intersection of art and science. As part of my job at the Exploratorium, I helped to curate hundreds of hands-on activities into an easy-to-navigate database called HowtoSMILE. So, I LOVE being a conduit to resources for teachers, out-of-school educators, and parents. In their video you can see kids exploring circuits while building Jitterbugs, exploring mechanics while building Cardboard Automata, and exploring the potential and kinetic energy in a Marble Machine.

I also participated in a Bright Futures Family Night at WIMA. I shared some activities related to how the eye-brain system works and what kinds of optical illusions are produced based upon that system. Although, the most interesting activity of that night (for me!) was the spontaneous activity of viewing the partial solar eclipse that was happening! I happened to have a pair of binoculars with me, so I demonstrated using the binoculars to view the eclipse on paper. (NEVER look directly at the sun!) I relish spontaneous moments of STEM learning.

Through these experiences with teachers, parents, and kids in the Ypsi community I’ve learned that there is a great hunger here for STEM learning opportunities – both in school and in out-of-school settings. I have an anecdotal story that highlights this: During August 2013, while moving my partner into our home, we attended the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival. As all your readers may know, there are a number of booths present and, at one of the booths, there were high school students demonstrating remote controlled robots. As I was walking by, I noticed a young girl, about 5 or 6 years old, operating the vehicle while her mother was talking with the teacher coach. She said that her daughter had this insatiable interest in science and she didn’t know where it came from as she herself wasn’t necessarily science minded. She lamented verbally at the lack of opportunities for her daughter to engage in STEM. I wanted to tell that mother – “I’m coming – I’ll be here for your daughter!” I knew in that instant that there was a place for me to share my passion for STEM with girls in Ypsilanti.

MARK: Given your experience, what’s your sense as to what works when it comes to getting girls interested in science, and, perhaps more importantly, keeping them engaged?

CASSIE: This is a huge question, with many variables, and lots of folks studying the topic. What research shows is that both girls and boys have equal interest in STEM topics through elementary school. However, by middle school, interest in STEM tends to diminish for girls. At this age, many girls tend to self-identify as either “being good at math and science” or “not being good at math and science.” In my work, I try to focus on girls between the ages of 10 -12 — hopefully catching their interest before they self-select out of STEM. Some key strategies for getting, and keeping, girls interested in STEM are:

INTRODUCE HER TO ROLE MODELS: If I asked you to describe the first image that pops into your mind when I say the word, “scientist”, what did you see? Many will describe the ubiquitous white male, with crazy hair, wearing a labcoat, probably blowing something up in a lab image. This stereotype belief holds true for girls too. Because of this, there is a disconnect between the descriptive stereotype that scientists must look like that crazy guy and how girls view themselves. So, we must introduce girls to many types of scientists with whom they can identify. “If she can see it, she can be it.”

GIVE HER OPPORTUNITIES TO ENGAGE IN STEM EXPERIENCES: Take advantage of girls’ interest in STEM from a young age – visit science centers and other informal learning environments, do activities at home that make the connection between STEM and everyday life (talk about the science or math of cooking while making dinner, explain a household or automotive repair to her, let her tinker with you – gaining hands-on experience with tools), or encourage her to sign up for a STEM related afterschool or summer program.

ENCOURAGE GROWTH MINDSET: Research out of Stanford University by Dr. Carol Dweck found that people could be described as having a fixed mindset (that their intelligence or talents were fixed) or a growth mindset (that their intelligence or talents can be developed through dedication and hard work). When we give girls opportunities to succeed and to fail, we create a space for them to learn from failure, which can help them develop a growth mindset. This piece gets at the heart of the “I’m not good at math” problem and paves the way for her to develop perseverance, which is critical for success in STEM fields.

MARK: It wasn’t too long ago that I interviewed another San Francisco native, Lee Azus, whose boyfriend Rob Halpern had gotten a job teaching creative writing here at EMU. If I remember his interview correctly, I think he had some concerns about moving to such a small town after having lived in the city for so long. Are you feeling any trepidation?

CASSIE: I definitely felt trepidation at first. Like Lee, I was worried about the culture of acceptance. I can say for a fact that I have never felt shunned or judged here. My neighborhood started a community on NextDoor.com and one of the organizers hosted a meet and greet at her home. That was a welcoming experience. Our mail carrier introduced herself soon after we moved in and told us to let her know if we needed anything. Anything! So kind. On that snow day at the beginning of February, many of my neighbors were outside helping one another shovel driveways and introducing themselves. I really felt included in the community. The people in Ypsi are truly beautiful.


[Still wondering why people are moving to Ypsi? Check out the Ypsilanti Immigration Interview archive.]

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  1. EOS
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 3:58 am | Permalink

    So her focus is 10 – 12 year old girls?

  2. Mr. X
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Thank you, EOS, for sharing that, and making us all aware of the kind of man you are. I cannot even begin to comprehend what it must be like to live one’s life with the level of hatred you have in your heart. I truly feel sorry for you.

  3. site admin
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Cassie, please don’t feel as though EOS speaks for anyone in this community other than himself. This is what he does. For what it’s worth, this community has stood up to him in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.

    The last time EOS made an attack such as this, suggesting that the people of Ozone House just offered shelter for homeless kids in order to molest them, we stood up and raised thousands of dollars for their work.

    This is a good, welcoming community. You will see.

    Here’s background on EOS:

  4. Adam
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    Hi Cassie! Welcome to Ypsi!

    Obviously EOS is a waste of space and can be ignored (other than making positive donations in his name :) ). We’re thrilled to have you here in town and glad for all your hard and important work.

    Hopefully we cross paths soon!

  5. Brian
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Welcome to Ypsi, Cassie!

    Glad to have you here! Hooray, science!

  6. Casey
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    Welcome to Ypsi, Cassie! We’re so happy to have smart and awesome folks like you as part of our community.

  7. Quinn
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Thanks for all the important work you do, Cassie! Welcome to Ypsi!

    I was slandered by EOS in the past for my work with at-risk youth, but as others said, let’s not feed the troll unless it’s for a good cause!

  8. Lara
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Hi Cassie, welcome to Ypsi! I’m so happy you’re here and bringing your amazing energy and intelligence to our community. On your question about bike rides, you may want to connect with the Ypsi Studio Cycling Group, they sometimes do long rides on the weekends and the people are super rad. They are on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ypsi-Studio-Cycling-Group/871476502863497?fref=ts

    So glad you’re in Ypsi!

  9. Eel
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    When EOS eventually comes out, it’s going to be crazy.

  10. Dan Blakeney
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    Welcome, Welcome, Welcome Citizen Cassie!

    Thank you for joining our community. I love that you sensed our town spirit right away. I hope to meet you and your partner in person around town very soon!

    Thanks for being here.


  11. Bee
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    great interview!

  12. Meta
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    There’s also Bike Ypsi. You can find a schedule of their rides here.


  13. Georgina
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Cassie, some of us in Bike Ypsi are planning a women’s metric century ride on July 26th — hope you’ll join us! Details (when we have them) will be here along the variety of other rides we do: http://bike.ypsi.org/


  14. L.A.
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I have found Ypsi to be the most welcoming community I’ve ever lived in. It is without a doubt the mostly visibly and openly queer community I’ve ever lived in. Far more queer than most realize. I have also met countless people who do incredible work like you do here. You are never far from an activist, advocate, community organizer, or social worker. There is more than enough room for you here. Welcome to the club.

  15. Amy Morgan
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    Hi Cassie!
    Welcome to Ypsi! We (2 moms, 7 kids) are all about STEAM at our house — hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to connect over scrap box pieces at fly or something. Happy to have you in our hood!

  16. Holly
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Hi Cassie! Welcome to Ypsi!

    I’ve lived in the area since 2005, mostly renting space in Ann Arbor until last October when my partner and I bought a house in Ypsi Township. I really love Ypsilanti. It has a community feel, it’s a little edgy and definitely has a lot going on. It’s a place you feel like you can just jump in and take part.

    Hope to see you around town. :)


  17. Kevin Sharp
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    What wonderful and important work! Welcome Cassie and it’s always nice to see our community through the eyes of someone new!

  18. Janette
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Welcome, Cassie – so happy to have you in Ypsi doing such good & interesting work!

  19. Bob Krzewinski
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    EOS – Why don’t you stand behind your words by using your real name? If you don’t you are nothing short of a coward insulting people behind the security of a computer screen.

  20. Rick Talbot
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Welcome to Ypsilanti. We’ve had a shop in Depot Town for almost 40 years. Great place to be. You’ll love it. Good luck in your new adventure!

  21. Vanessa T
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Welcome to Ypsi! We’re glad to have you. I wish I had more role models in science as a child, and I’m excited for the kids that will be impacted by your work. Keep up the good work!

  22. Marissa Kurtzhals
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Hi Cassie!

    I didn’t see the comment by EOS, but am finding they’re some type of “homophobic troll”. As I’m sure you already know, they do NOT properly reflect the values of the Ypsi community. You’re doing extremely important work and should be very proud! I find it very inspiring that you didn’t listen to the Dean and stuck true to what you know is right.


  23. Thom Elliott
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    The majority of molestation cases are done by nominal ‘heterosexuals’ who have access to the children, someone close to them, like family members, figures of authority, or the well documented epidemic within the Catholic Church. The christianist meme of the nefarious gay pedophile is utilized to obscure the rampant incest and molestation typical of ‘normal’, conservative American life, including faith communities, where children are regularly pray for pederasty by trusted community leaders. American christianist fascists cannot be self reflective, and so blame 100% of their respective problems on the Other.

  24. Laura Goins
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Cassie, welcome to a wonderful community. Thanks for the super helpful and practical advice on engaging girls in STEM.
    We’re lucky to have you here!


  25. Andrew Maniotes
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Hi Cassie. Welcome to town. It’s great to see people who are invested in the community and education minded move in (bonus that you didn’t both about the snow!). I predict you’ll fit in even more and more once more if us meet you.

  26. Laura Goins
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Also, reading your enthusiasm makes me hope that my little girl has an opportunity to work with you at some point in the future.

  27. Kate Stroud
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Hi Cassie! Welcome to Ypsi :) It was great to read about all the cool stuff you’ve done.
    We have a 10 (almost 11) year old daughter who was just chatting with me last night about Algebra. I am happy that the there are people like you making it more open for girls and women to get into math and sciences. Thank you for bringing energy and passion into learning in creative ways. I am excited you are here. Also my partner works in Dearborn and rides. She works as a firefighter which are 24 hour shifts but she could do a one way commute in the morning sometimes if you are looking for an occasional riding buddy :)

  28. Cousin Allison
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Welcome to the mitten Cassie! You seem like an incredible person that will add to the eclectic mix of beautiful individuals that reside in Ypsi… your mission is a good one. Please continue to educate and inspire! Sending love to you too Mark!

  29. Nick Azzaro
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I’ve had the pleasure of working with Cassie twice now. In addition to being an awesome human being, she also taught me a TON about the human eye!

  30. Lynne
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I think it is so important to encourage girls in the sciences. It is important to encourage boys too but they already seem to get enough. I am very happy that you are here, Cassie, and willing to put so much energy into the community. Ypsi will be better for it for sure.

    And don’t worry about what EOS says. He/she is the local internet troll and trust me, nobody takes what he/she says very seriously.

  31. EOS
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    The whole story sounds fabricated. The dean told her that women weren’t welcome, so she left the office in tears, changed her major and doesn’t recall his name. “Additionally, he likely wouldn’t remember a short meeting with a struggling female student from 22 years ago.”, as in, please don’t try to fact check this. 22 years ago every engineering program in the nation was competing to attract more women.

  32. Steve Putala
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Welcome to Ypsilanti Cassie. My family moved here about 1 1/2 years ago and absolutely love the community, it is great that you are working on welcoming girls into stem.

  33. Mr. X
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    EOS, are you saying that girls and women have no problem in advancing in STEM fields, and that the the only reason we believe this is an issue is because lesbians have lied to us in hopes of creating jobs for themselves that would give them access to our daughters? Is this really what you believe?

  34. Cassie Byrd
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    omg! Mr. X, I just laughed out loud at work…thank you.

  35. Thom Elliott
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    No, EOS is interested in viciously smearing gays primarily as part of his orders commanded by christianist talk radio, which he uncritically consumes and allows to wash over his psyche in a seductive tide of surrealistic conspiratorial hatred of the Other. Gay people, like Jews, blacks, or trade unionists, etc., are a demonic enemy who need to be cleansed from his white supremacist, heterosexist society.

  36. Joe Montgomery
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    My wife might start working in Dearborn in a few… weeks? months? I’m not sure. But the commute is our biggest concern about her switching jobs and a carpool would make it a lot better. We have two young boys, so the drive would be… not boring, at least. I’ll let her know.

  37. EOS
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    No, Mr. X and Thom, I said nothing remotely resembling your comments. I merely repeated Ms. Byrd’s own comments. If women have the qualifications they can easily get offers in the six figures in the engineering field. These jobs are plentiful. If Cassie can’t get an engineering job, maybe it’s because she has a biology degree.

  38. Denise Heberle
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Cassie, I love that you’ve forgotten the name of someone who demeaned you! The best revenge, and all. It even beats the satisfaction I know friends have had making the “how you like me now?” call. Funny that the EOS character would build it into his (yes, I’m assuming) fever dream about your devious plot.

    I wish I still had 10-12-year old girls so they could have the great opportunity to expand their liberal arts minds you describe. I’m glad you are here, and would love to meet you.

    Happily, most of the people who have EOS’s illness don’t get out much.

  39. lisa gottlieb
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Welcome! I work in Ypsilanti, and love so many things there. Great work you are doing. Good luck with everything, and best wishes to you and your partner.

  40. maryd
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Welcome Cassie to Ypsi! I am thrilled to have someone mentoring girls in science. These young people will be our future and I am counting on them to save the world.

  41. Christine Moellering
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    I think you are so awesome. I was so into science and chemistry as a little kid. I would play with my fancy chemistry set growing up and then suddenly at 7th grade, no more. One bad teacher than turn a kid off so fast. I was a miserable student and never applied myself much after 7th grade. I think I had potential. To see someone who wants to help and encourage this..really makes me smile. Thank you! Welcome to Ypsi and I hope you move up the ranks to encourage from higher up as well.

  42. Ebru
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Cassie, welcome to Ypsi and the greater A2 area! Found your work fascinating, I’m actually in a new position at a tech/engineering start-up and one of my personal goals that our CTO totally supports is establishing a program that encourages young people from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the STEM fields into them. Would love to chat off line about your work/experience if this is relevant. You can get my contact info form Mark if so.

  43. Yen Azzaro
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    What a great conversation and even better introduction to Cassie! My husband has worked with her twice now and only has wonderful things to say. I wish this kind of emphasis and enthusiasm in STEM subjects (both personally and educationally) had been available to me growing up. I can’t wait to meet you, Cassie! We’re so happy you’re here.

  44. Russell Davis
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Welcome to the community here in Ypsi, Cassie! I lived in the Bay Area (mostly Oakland) for about 15 years before we moved back here to Michigan in 2001. Really loved the cultural atmosphere there. Was inspired to write a ton of songs and made all kinds of artist friends in the Bay area. Not to mention the proximity of John Muir Woods, Mt. Tamalpais, and Yosemite (talk about inspiration!). Ypsilanti is the closest thing to the feeling of community I had in Northern California that I’ve encountered so far. (Just moved to Ypsi myself back in April 2014, after living in Ann Arbor for several years.) Enjoy your new home!!!

  45. anonymous
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    I love how these things always backfire on EOS.

  46. Michael Bodary
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Welcome to Ypsilanti Cassie!

    Its wonderful to have such talented and interesting people coming to live here. You’ll soon see if you haven’t already the folks here are involved, friendly, and watch out for their neighbors. And don’t pay attention to the troll under the bridge. Trolls turn to stone in the light of day.

  47. Posted May 14, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Welcome to Ypsilanti! We’re happy to have you!

  48. Posted May 14, 2015 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Welcome, Cassie! I’m your friendly Ann Arbor cheerleader, but I LOVE Ypsilanti as well!
    Hope you are settled in and enjoying your time here!

  49. Merrill
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Hi Cassie, welcome to Ypsi. As you can see with EOS we have our own subset of batshit crazy folk, but most of us are fun, welcoming and love artsy, creative, geeky, techie and smart strong women like yourself. So glad you are here and I’d love to hear your thoughts on incorporating the A in STEM. It seems like a natural addition and can reach out to girls who have both a strong creative as well as techie side. I think it would enhance the whole STEM experience. Although with some of your projects it already feels like you are incorporating that creative side. I work with an arts organization and this has been a major topic of conversation. Thanks again for a wonderful interview and helping to make Ypsi an even more awesome place to live.

  50. Chanda
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 2:21 pm | Permalink


  51. idea man
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    We need to position these Swedish signs around our border to keep EOS and his ilk away.


  52. Catherine D
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Welcome to Ypsi! Sounds like we might be neighbors; I live right off the northernmost east-west street that borders EMU. ;) I’m glad you’ve gotten into the swing of things here so fast; I could (and did) learn a thing or two from you in terms of biking, etc.
    One discouraging prof or teacher can blight a student’s attitude for life. On the positive side, however, one encouraging teacher can turn it around. Thanks for your commitment to being that positive influence for girls interested in STEM-related endeavors.

  53. Posted May 14, 2015 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Thank you all for saying such nice things, and making Cassie feel so welcome. It makes me almost weepy.

    Despite EOS’s ridiculous accusations, we live in a truly wonderful place.

    Thank you for reminding me of that.

  54. Rebecca Dunkle
    Posted May 14, 2015 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    welcome to Ypsi – huge numbers of UM folks live in Ypsi , and from the Ann Arbor campus at least there are a lot of UM-supported employee van pools (to as far away as Fenton, for example.) the vans often pick up from several places – don’t know if the Dearborn campus offers the same but it is a great option for a lot of my colleagues. And I LOVE that you sort of passed Ruth on the way here, she was a force in Ypsi ;-)

  55. Anne M. Evans
    Posted May 15, 2015 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Welcome Cassie! Great to hear you’ve discovered some of my favorite things about my home town. Look for your neighborhood’s association on Facebook to stay in touch with local happenings.

  56. Paranoid Fuck
    Posted May 15, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    EOS, you’re spot on with your assumptions. They may be correct, or not, only Cassie knows. However, the story doesn’t add up. When such a life changing event occurs, we tend to remember the exact details. It appears she remembers everything exactly as it happened…yet can’t remember his name?

  57. M.
    Posted May 15, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    20 years ago my fellow employees and I were escorted away from our desks and let go without warning. We were searched as we were leaving the building. It was cruel and demeaning, especially given how hard we’d worked for the company. My crying was done. I no longer remember the name of the corporate asshole who flew in to oversee our dismissal. I never thought that I’d forget it, but I have. You people are stupid.

  58. Paranoid Fuck
    Posted May 15, 2015 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Sounds terrible M., I guess your one story has proven me wrong. touche!

  59. Lynne
    Posted May 15, 2015 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Paranoid Fuck, you are making a very common logical mistake. You are assuming that because you would remember every single detail from a painful experience, that everyone would. That is simply not true. Human memory is a funny thing anyways and most people don’t remember events with 100% accuracy anyways. They are way more likely to remember how something made them feel than they are to remember unimportant details like someone’s name. I know that I was thinking about some old employment wrongs because of this conversation and I found that although I could remember how angry I was and some of the details about why I was angry, over time I too have forgotten the names of some of the people who have wronged me. I don’t think that is uncommon.

  60. Kerri
    Posted May 17, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Cassie, I admire the important work that you do. How great to welcome another cool couple to Ypsi. You’ll love it here!

  61. I'll Just Put This Here
    Posted November 12, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    “All-Female Flight Test Crew Asked How They Will Cope Without Make-Up Or Men In Space”


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  1. […] I talked with science educator Cassie Byrd earlier this year as part of the Ypsi Immigration Interview project, we discussed the possibility, given her interest in teaching girls about science, and her […]

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