Casey Rawson

Casey Rawson photo


Postdoctoral Research Associate, Project READY


UNC Chapel Hill SILS



Graduation year:

"Leadership is a skill that can be learned as well as a habit to cultivate, and I feel that SILS faculty really nurture that among the students."

What was your educational and professional background before coming to SILS?

Before coming to SILS for my MSLS, I was a middle school science teacher. I have an MAT in Middle Grades Education from the University of Louisville and a BS in Biology from Duke University.

How has your career progressed since you graduated SILS?

After my first year in the MSLS program, I decided to apply for the SILS PhD program so that I could continue working with my advisor (now colleague and friend!) Sandra Hughes-Hassell. Over the past seven years, Sandra and I have worked together on several projects focused on diversity and equity in youth services librarianship. Last year, we received a grant from IMLS that is funding Project READY: Reimagining Equity and Access for Diverse Youth. After my PhD graduation, I transitioned to working full-time on this project as a postdoc.

In your current employment, what are your job duties and responsibilities?

In my postdoc position, I am working with Dr. Hughes-Hassell and SILS PhD student Kimberly Hirsh (plus many others on the project team and advisory board) to design, implement, and assess the impact of professional development for school librarians focused on cultural competence, culturally sustaining pedagogy, and equity literacy. We piloted our curriculum in the summer of 2017 with educators in the Wake County Public School System. I am also an adjunct instructor at SILS (I'm currently teaching the Research Methods Overview course), and  at Old Dominion University, where I teach an online course in their school library media program.

What projects have gotten you most excited and/or what accomplishments have made you the proudest?

It was VERY exciting to see my name on the cover of the book that I recently co-edited with Sandra Hughes-Hassell and Pauletta Bracy (Libraries, Literacy, and African American Youth: Research and Practice). But I think what makes me the happiest overall is knowing that my work with Project READY might make a positive difference in students' lives, at a time in the world when we are all in need of positive change!

What were some of your best experiences at SILS??

I have loved getting to know people who have vastly different academic, professional, and personal backgrounds from me. I think the greatest strength of SILS is its interdisciplinarity, which creates a rich environment for ideas to form and evolve.

How did your time at SILS prepare you for the future?

In my time as a student at SILS, I had many opportunities to practice leadership within my profession - as a conference presenter, as an author, as a researcher, and as a teacher. Leadership is a skill that can be learned as well as a habit to cultivate, and I feel that SILS faculty really nurture that among the students.

What inspires or motivates you?

My children! I have two young boys, and I want them to live in - and help create - a world that is equitable, kind, and open-minded.