Alumnus and successful entrepreneur Kristopher Tyra ’86 explains why every student at NC State should participate in ARTS NC STATE’s University Theatre.
Kristopher Tyra ’86 is a person of seemingly boundless energy, who at once embodies the competitive spirit of an entrepreneur and the bravado and personal connection of an actor. And with good reason. Kristopher began developing software at 17 and acting in second grade. He was a computer science major at NC State with, what his wife Nicole affectionately dubs, “a minor in McIlwee.” (She refers to John McIlwee, who has served as University Theatre’s director for nearly three decades. John has inspired countless students, and one of his very first was Kristopher.)
Kristopher’s two passions are: 1) acting and 2) designing and developing software. He’s had an impressive career doing the latter, building and selling three software companies, working as a manager at Microsoft, and now serving as the Head of UX Development at Deutsche Bank Global Technologies, Inc. As he leads his team creating User Interfaces for DB’s many applications, Kristopher draws daily from the lessons he learned in theatre, most especially communication, awareness, creativity, empathy, and an ability to work with diverse groups of people. “The theatre, when mixed with science, creates leaders,” Kristopher asserts. He meets with lots of young, smart, ambitious computer scientists all the time, but too often they are missing the essential leadership qualities that theatre can teach. “Theatre,” Kristopher explains, “will get you a job.”
With the exception of living in Seattle during his three years at Microsoft and traveling worldwide, Kristopher has lived his adult life in Raleigh and started and sold all of his companies in North Carolina. Despite many admonitions to relocate to Silicon Valley, Kristopher remained in Raleigh, because “North Carolina is where my heart lies.”Kristopher moved to the state as a teenager, when his father accepted the position of Director of Music at Western Carolina University in Jackson County. Much of his devotion to North Carolina stems from his commitment to NC State and to the education he received. Just as he has endless ideas for advancements in software development, Kristopher has limitless ideas for NC State’s future. He is eager to see the university become more interdisciplinary, with colleges collaborating more and, of course, with more students from across NC State’s colleges participating in University Theatre.
Kristopher and his wife, Nicole, who serves on the FRIENDS of ARTS NC STATE Board of Advisors, look to NC State to create their legacy for their five-year-old daughter, Kamren. Kristopher and Nicole share a vision for the future of NC State and its performing arts programs, and they plan to support projects that further those aims. One project that they are always willing to invest in is whatever John McIlwee is doing at University Theatre. Earlier this year, they committed funds, with a matching gift from DB Global, toward hiring professional actors to perform alongside NC State students in University Theatre’s 2012/13 productions and in this summer’s TheatreFest. They will continue to support John and University Theatre, even if, as Kristopher jokes, “John paints Thompson Hall pink and puts a sash around it!”
ARTS NC STATE is grateful to Kristopher and Nicole Tyra for their support of University Theatre. If you would like to learn more about giving to University Theatre, please contact the Office of Arts Development at 919-513-3802.