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Byrd Attends Nationally Competitive Gates Foundation Summit

Photo of Darrica Byrd

Charlotte, N.C. (April 4, 2014) - Darrica Byrd, a junior at Johnson C. Smith University, participated in a nationally competitive event funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in February. Byrd, was among eight students in the nation selected to attend this year’s Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit in Boca Raton, Fla.

The summit is a professional leadership conference for executive women of color. This year’s event brought together more than 800 influential business women from across the country, and it was the first year college students could attend.

Byrd, who is from Pineville, N.C., served as a voice for the students as she participated in roundtables and panel discussions to empower young African-American women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). “The purpose of this summit was to encourage women entrepreneurs to become mentors for young women so they would enter STEM in college and stay with it,” Byrd said.

Speakers included former EPA chief Lisa Jackson, who is vice president for environmental initiatives at Apple. Jackson was the first African-American woman to lead the EPA and worked on the Clean Water Act. “I learned from her that in the face of adversity you can’t give up,” said Byrd of Jackson. “She talked about juggling a family, a job and being a woman in STEM and she is someone I look up to.”

Other students attended the summit from institutions such as Fayetteville State University, Howard University and Dillard University. “To me it was the best conference any female could attend,” said Byrd. She enjoyed the opportunity to interface with female executives from top companies who shared their success stories in STEM. “I could see all these women coming together working to build the community up.” Byrd dreams big and has decided to pursue a career in medicine. The idea came to her early in her life while undergoing several back surgeries caused by a medical condition from birth. “I started reading medical books when I was younger,” she said. That knowledge continued to fuel her interest in the field and the decision to major in biology in college. With a GPA of 3.9, she has her sights set on orthopedics. If all goes as planned, Byrd could someday help patients like herself enjoy a better quality of life.

For more information about the summit go to:

About Johnson C. Smith University

Founded in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is an independent, close-knit urban university located in Charlotte, N.C. It has a growing national reputation for integrating the liberal arts with business, the sciences and technology in ways that empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders. Offering 22 fields of study to more than 1,300 students from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, the university’s excellent academic programs focus on servant leadership, civic engagement and global responsibility. For more information about JCSU, visit or follow the university on social media sites Facebook , TwitterYouTubeLinkedIn and Pinterest.

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