Tera Hurt relates students to relationship enrichment

Tera Hurt teaches human development and human relationship studies classes  at Iowa State.

Denisha Mixon

Tera Hurt started her journey at Indiana University as a biology major before she realized perhaps there was another path she should take. That’s when she decided to explore human development and family studies. 

“I was always very interested in issues of development and how life experiences shape an individual,” said the assistant professor of human development and family studies. “However, after I took my first biology class in my first semester as a freshman, I knew I needed a change.”

Hurt reviewed the schedule of classes book and found a course called life span development.

“I enrolled in the class for the spring semester of my freshman year. After the first day, I knew that I had made the right decision. At the end of my freshman year, I changed my major from biology to human development and family studies.”

Hurt’s main goal is to show and teach students about human development and family studies. This particular course informs individuals about the real life and the people in the world.

“I admire her willingness to develop intervention strategies to work with youth, empowering teens to identify new, positive relationship strategies that will foster longer-term positive outcomes in their emerging families and for their children in the future,” said Steven Beach, psychology professor at the University of Georgia.

Beach worked with Hurt at Georgia, where Hurt’s career began as a postdoctoral fellow. 

Hurt was also part of the martial enrichment program, which works to strengthen relationships. Hurt said she enjoys working with individuals on improving their relationships.

“Hurt is competent, energetic and enthusiastic; her research is innovative and timely,” Beach said. “In addition, she has demonstrated a remarkable ability to work effectively with pastors, community leaders and parents, creating lasting coalitions within African-American communities in support of research on families and relationships.”

Hurt’s work has made a difference in many peoples lives. Her effect on others is not limited to the realm of teaching; Hurt is now working on developing a partnership with Iowa community leaders on relationship development programs. This particular program is meant to help individuals in any relationship situation.

Hurt said she has a deep passion for working with students. She enjoys teaching her students what she knows and learning new information from her students as well.

“I appreciate the opportunity to teach students various concepts and theories related to developmental issues,” Hurt said. “The connections and applications that the students make from course material [and in] their own life experiences or current events is exciting to be a part of. It’s not uncommon for a student to share something that’s new to me. I am especially thankful for these days that the teacher goes to class, so to speak. I truly enjoy engaging with the students.”

Hurt works to give her students knowledge of human behaviors and relationship issues, while explaining the positive and negative aspects of life. Hurt’s course helps students see the world from a different prospective.

“My first goal is to ensure that they learn the tools and skills needed to be successful in the professional arena, wherever their paths may lead,” Hurt said. “It’s a privilege to teach those who will be working with families and children. I want to ensure that they are equipped when they leave my class, for working with contemporary families from different backgrounds. If they are able to apply course material to their personal lives as well, then that’s even better.”

Learning about human development can help people understand their own personal problems. They have the ability to learn different ways to change or improve their well-being.

Hurt said her primary goal for her students is for them to learn core concepts and theories as well as trends related to human development and family relationships. 

“I also stress the importance of embracing diversity and making an effort to see things from another person’s perspective,” Hurt said. “I remind my students that as professionals, they will serve many families and children who lead lives that differ from their own personal values. This brings to mind a motto: ‘Different may not mean deficient.’ In my view, their responsibility is to provide the same level of professionalism in delivering support or services to families.”