Newcomb Institute Awards Ceremony
Oak Wreath Recipients
Majors: Marketing, Political Economy; Minor: Legal Studies
- Executive Director of the Wave Center for Policy and Enterprise
- Managed a five-state region of political activists with Students for Liberty
- Interned at the U.S. Senate
Favorite faculty member: “Professor Yest has been a rock during my time at Tulane. He does a fantastic job co-directing the Altman Program and has supported me in every challenge I’ve faced throughout my time in the program, whether in the form of making finance seem comprehensible (a tall task) or wheeling me around in a luggage cart when I broke my foot in Vietnam. What an honor to be taught by someone so caring, energetic, and wise!”
From Professor Yest: “Rachel is a force to be reckoned with! She’s such a determined young person. I love how she sees an end-goal and will work backwards towards achieving it. It has been a great experience getting to watch her grow from freshman to senior—ready to take on the world! In addition to being whip smart, Rachel has this quick wit that is amazing to witness! Her brain just moves so quickly that it’s hard to keep up with her dry sense of humor! She will indeed be missed!”
Major: Public Health; Minor: Spanish
- Service-Learning Assistant with the Tulane Center for Public Service (CPS), managing French service-learning courses through collaboration with Tulane faculty, CPS staff, New Orleans community partners, and Tulane students.
- CPS Public Service Fellow, partnering with NGO Catholic Charities for two years: and worked to provide the New Orleans immigrant community with language services through English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and translation services.
- Studied abroad in Madrid and Morocco, learning Arabic and keeping in contact with Moroccan NGOs while completing research project on “The Current State of Migrant Health in Morocco: Pre-and Peri-COVID-19 Pandemic.”
- Volunteered in a Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine lab where she tested and monitored wastewater from Tulane residence halls and a New Orleans hospital, and presented her research poster on the “Detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in Hospital Wastewater for COVID-19 Surveillance” at the 2021 Tulane University Health Sciences Research Days, and as a finalist in the 2021 Delta Omega Poster Competition.
Favorite faculty member: “When looking back at my undergraduate experience, I am reminded of the first professor I connected with as a Tulane student: Dr. Linette Reed. I had the honor of being her Spanish student for a total of three semesters. In my first semester at Tulane, I had the opportunity to be a service-learning student through Dr. Reed’s class, where I connected with the New Orleans immigrant community through ESL tutoring and providing translation services with New Orleans NGO, Catholic Charities. In her Medical Spanish course, Dr. Reed taught me valuable practical skills that I utilized when communicating with community members and patients during my time in Nicaragua and Panama on medical brigades. In my sophomore year, conversations about Dr. Reed’s personal experiences in her Spanish culture course inspired me to further my education globally by studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. Not only was Dr. Reed an excellent professor, but an encouraging mentor who motivated me to pursue my passions for languages and medicine, and supported me throughout my academic career.”
From Professor Reed: I´ve known Layla since Fall 2017 when she was enrolled in the honors section of Spanish 2040. It was then that I noticed how brilliant and passionate she is about the Spanish Language, culture, and Spanish in medicine. Layla has a special gift for languages and has acquired a near-native level in Spanish (something very unusual among undergraduates); she is also completely fluent in French and Farsi and is studying Arabic.
When she took my course Spanish 3060: Spanish for the Medical Professions, she applied what she was learning in class to a real situation by going to Nicaragua on a medical brigade during Spring Break. Her experiences and observations while in that country provided material for a splendid final research paper on health issues related to water shortage in Nicaragua.
Her enthusiasm with languages and culture pairs up with her dedication to helping others. She worked as a volunteer in the English as a Second Language (ESL) program for over 2 years! In ESL she taught English to Latin American immigrants. While she was a semester abroad in Madrid, through the Creative Pre-medical Scholars’ program, Layla took courses at the Universidad Complutense and volunteered with the Spanish NGO (non-governmental organization) “Juntos para Jugar” weekly, where she helped organize and provide services for adults with special needs, including immigrants. In Spring 2020, Layla went to Morocco and continued to work with a Moroccan NGO for immigrants, and conducted a research project on “The Current State of Migrant Health in Morocco: Pre-and Peri-COVID-19 Pandemic”.
Layla told me a few times that “her goal in life is to work with immigrant communities and use her linguistic skills to help achieve health equity and increase health access globally.” She´s very consistent with all her work so far towards that important goal, and as her teacher, I´m very proud of her and very happy to have contributed to inspire her in my classes. Congratulations Layla!
Newcomb Scholar; Majors: Political Science, French, Gender & Sexuality Studies
- Honors Thesis: “The Women of ISIS: Theorizing Justice, Gender, and Terrorism”
- Studied abroad and conducted research in Paris and Jerusalem
- Worked with eight different groups of first-year students as a mentor in seminar classes.
Favorite faculty member: “It’s hard to pick just one faculty member who has been important to me, because I have come to learn that Tulane’s (and Newcomb’s) faculty are a big part of what makes the university so special. Dr. John Howard has been a supporter, mentor, and intellectual partner to me since my first semester at Tulane. He’s always encouraged me to develop my interests and question everything, and I’m very lucky to have worked with him as a student, a teaching assistant, and a researcher. Dr. Howard introduced me to how fulfilling and fun college can be and I can’t thank him enough for everything he has done for me in the last few years.”
From Professor Howard: In almost 40 years of teaching, I have met only a small number of students who have impressed me as much as Abby Bean. She embodies intellectual passion and moral virtue. I have been fortunate for her to be a student in multiple courses with me, to work with her as a peer mentor and undergraduate teaching assistant, and to serve as a committee member on her senior thesis. Through it all she has been intensely intelligent, motivated by an authentic sense of justice, and dedicated to an uncompromising pursuit of knowledge and a genuine desire to help others. I am honored to have learned so much from her and to count her as a true friend.
Major: Political Economy; Minor: French
- President of Women in Politics
- Peer Success Leader at Tulane Success Center
- Fundraising Director and Treasurer for the Suazo for School Board Campaign
Favorite faculty member: “I have loved working with and getting to know Dr. Anna Mahoney through the Tulane Women in Politics club. She has been incredibly helpful and encouraging and has inspired not only me but the entire club to continue our work towards women’s advancement. I appreciate Dr. Mahoney’s dedication to our club and willingness to support me during my time with Newcomb Institute.”
From Professor Mahoney: “Working with Maddie this year has been a pleasure. One of the challenging parts of working with community or academic partners can be trusting students to follow through. This year, Maddie worked with our partners at Loyola University’s Women’s Resource Center to host an incredible event to celebrate the Inauguration and the historic Vice Presidency of Kamala Harris. This was a very moving event, and the hard work that Maddie put in working with her counterpart at Loyola made that possible. I was so proud she was a Newcomb student and really showed leadership through teamwork. This is just one example of the vision she has shown in leading Women In Politics this year. She will be a tough act to follow.”
Majors: Psychology, Theatre
- Served as the Events Coordinator for the Tulane University Peer Health Educator Program (TUPHE)
- Co-founded the Tulane University Disabled Student Union which included speaking on panels about her experience with disability and chronic illness
- Interned for a childhood cancer non-profit through the CPS internship program.
Favorite faculty members: Jenny Mercein- I have had the pleasure of having Professor Mercein for my first semester and my last semester at Tulane. Her ability to make her students feel valued in and out of the classroom and her approach to creativity and collaboration has inspired me. Perhaps my favorite part about her teaching besides her energy and humor is her honesty and vulnerability as it has made my classmates and I feel so comfortable to learn and collaborate. Dr. Megan Holt- Dr. Holt gave me my voice through taking her freshman English class. She gave me a skill, passion, and confidence for writing and advocating on my experience with chronic illness and disability and left me feeling empowered, strong, and with something to offer the world. She is a fierce advocate for her students, the New Orleans community, and learning.
From Professor Mercein: I met Julia in the Fall of 2017, when she enrolled in my freshman honors colloquium. Julia is one of the most engaged, inquisitive, reliable students I’ve ever taught. I’ve been fortunate to serve as her theatre advisor and to have her in class again in her final semester at Tulane. From her first semester to her last, Julia shows up with enthusiasm and energy, eager to support the work of her classmates. I regularly bump into Julia at events and performances, where she always has a smile on her face, happy to be contributing to the vibrancy of our department.
As someone who has faced health challenges since a young age, Julia has shown great maturity and resilience during her time at Tulane. When confronting a required class in theatre that might have posed physical challenges for her, Julia came to me early on to discuss strategies to navigate those challenges. With reassurance from me and clear communication with her professor, Julia ended up excelling in the class, evidence of Julia’s determination and pragmatism. She is able to advocate for herself and her needs in a way that continually impresses me. A leader in TUPHE, Julia is passionate about the well-being of all Tulane students. She is deeply deserving of this honor.
From Professor Holt: It has been a pleasure to get to know Julia Bergman during her time at Tulane. I have no doubt that her ability to combine her critical thinking skills with her compassion for others will take Julia far in life. I look forward to continuing to watch Julia grow for years to come.
Major: Public Health
- Developed a presentation detailing her internship project on a sexual health research question concerning young African American men in New Orleans and their reactions to their chlamydia diagnosis and engaged in Webinar Q&A for Conceiving Equity 2021.
- Wrote a comprehensive policy memo and developed a policy memo presentation about Air Quality and Environmental Health in Louisiana for her Formulation of Public Health Policy class.
- Wrote a literature review synthesis highlighting a gap in current literature concerning young African American men in the South and their reactions to curable STD diagnosis, and wrote an abstract about their preliminary research findings to fill that literature gap for the American Public Health Association’s 2021 Annual Meeting & Expo.
Favorite faculty members: “Dr. Alyssa Lederer has been a wonderful mentor during my time as a Research Assistant for the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Lederer helped me develop research and scholarly writing skills that I will continue to use as a public health professional, as well as introduced me to the process of publishing a peer-reviewed paper. She cares deeply about her research, her students, and her fellow researchers, and I am very lucky to have worked with her on research projects for the last year.
Clare Daniel and the Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Health (RRRH) Program is the highlight of my time at Tulane University. Dr. Daniel’s hard for work the RRRH program gave interns the opportunity to learn from many reproductive rights leaders across New Orleans. I am thankful for the network of reproductive rights and reproductive health interns that are doing great work in research and for organizations.”
From Professor Daniel: “Anna has been a stellar member of the Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Health internship program. She always brings her great attitude, keen intellect, and deep interest in reproductive health to our biweekly meetings. We will miss her as she moves on to her next phase in life!”
From Professor Lederer: Anna has been my Research Assistant for the past year, and working together has been an absolute joy. Despite the fact that we have never actually met each other in person due to the pandemic, Anna has been a true research collaborator. I appreciate her passion for learning, enthusiasm for our research, and the professional and personal relationship we have developed. I am excited to see her pursue her MPH next year and to watch all of the other great things that are in store for her unfold.
Majors: Economics, Linguistics; Minor: Political Science
- Completed an interdisciplinary research project in Economics and Linguistics titled “Employing Natural Language Processing Methods to Detect Differences in Email Responses in an Audit Study”, which was presented at the Newcomb Scholars Symposium, Honors Thesis Forum, and the Collegiate Association for Inequality Research Conference.
- Organized and moderated expert panels at the fall and spring 2020 Louisiana Student Voter Summits
- Assisted with the outreach and application process for the first-ever NEW Leadership Louisiana, a political leadership program
Favorite faculty members: I began working with Professor Button as a research assistant, later working with them on my honors thesis. Professor Button is a major advocate for up-and-coming undergraduate researchers and goes out of their way to provide opportunities for research and scholarship, especially to underrepresented students in the field of economics. They are a fantastic mentor and have been a major advocate of mine, encouraging me to pursue a Ph.D. program in the future. Their guidance and advice have been invaluable to me as a first-generation student navigating the complexities of academia and research.
And I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Professor Anna Mahoney at Newcomb Institute. Working with her has been one of the best decisions I made at Tulane, as she has been an honest mentor and one of the kindest and most encouraging professors I have had at Tulane. I first met Dr. Mahoney through her course on women’s political leadership through the Newcomb Scholars program and enjoyed the work so much that I eventually signed on as a research assistant and administrative aide on several of her projects. Under Dr. Mahoney’s guidance, I have been able to take on lots of new projects and leadership roles, as well as learn a great deal about civic engagement, political leadership, and institutional equity efforts related to gender. She holds all the qualities that a good leader should have, excels at fostering the strengths in others, and is skilled at developing meaningful partnerships with others in her field.
From Professor Button: Emma Brick-Hezeau serves as a model for how students can study and contribute to gender equality and broader equity. I am impressed with Emma’s commitment and focus to inclusion, having done so much at Tulane and in the broader community to reduce barriers facing women, gender minorities, and others. Emma is a fantastic researcher who I expect to push forward our knowledge significantly and I have no doubt that they’ll move onto even greater things.
From Professor Mahoney: I almost missed out on an incredible opportunity by not noticing Emma Brick-Hezeau upon our initial association. I thought she was like so many students, quiet, did her work, but nothing out of the ordinary. Was I wrong or what?! when I think how much I would have missed by judging a book by its cover. Emma is diligent, hard-working, independent, and I can count on her. Under difficult conditions over the last few years, she has never let me down. The value in that is immeasurable. It has been a pleasure to watch Emma grow in confidence and become a stronger leader every day. I know Emma is going to make an important mark on the world. She has such integrity and has shown principled leadership in her community organizing and her scholarship. I am so proud of what she has already accomplished. I will be watching for what comes next!
Major: Environmental Biology; Minor: Sociology
- Honors Thesis: “A Fur-midable Problem: Patterns of Lead and Mercury Exposure in New Orleanian Cats and Dogs”
- Legal justice intern at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) in their Family Law-Domestic Violence Unit
- Undergraduate Teaching Fellow in the EBIO Department, facilitating the Diversity of Life Lab which explores macroevolution, population ecology, sustainability, and animal behavior topics
Favorite faculty member: Dr. Jelagat Cheruiyot, EBIO Professor of Practice. Two weeks before the end of my sophomore year, I wandered into Dr. C’s office, certain that I was stuck in a major that did not meet my needs. Sharing stories of her own setbacks, she helped me switch majors and “find my raindrop,” ultimately saving my mental and emotional health. I’ve been lucky enough to learn from, grow with, and develop alongside her, and I will never forget her unmatched passion for the natural world and her students.
From Professor Cheruiyot: And the wandering led her to find her raindrop! Caroline Camus is an amazing student and person who is very engaging, comes into the learning space (lecture, lab, field) with such positive attitude, and excitement which makes learning/teaching such a wonderful adventure. Caroline is compassionate and kind to her peers; an encouraging smile here and there, an insect exchange for the insect collection, critiquing without judgment. We all had such fun in our insects and human interactions (formally insect biology) course and entomology lab chasing insects around the city and beyond. It has been such a pleasure to advise Caroline, teach and share the love of insects and all things biodiversity and I look forward to many more.
Majors: Physics; Political Economy; Minor: Math
- Thesis: “The Military-Industrial Complex and its Effect on Politics”
- Captain of the Tulane Varsity Sailing Team
- Outreach Tulane Board of Directors
Favorite faculty member: Dr. Denys Bondar of the Physics Department has had an incredible impact on me; he continues to inspire me and push me to pursue academic success and achievement, and he has expanded my horizons. I really appreciate how he cares about each student individually, and his mentorship has directly contributed to my success. Thank you so much, Dr. Bondar!!
From Professor Bondar: Katherine Cartiglia is a brilliant scholar and a rising star. She boldly explores crossdisciplinarity topics to address civilizational challenges. We all look forward to your future achievements!
Majors: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Classics
- Community Partners Coordinator for Outreach Tulane 2019 and Outreach Tulane Chair in 2020
- President of Tulane Green Medicine initiative
- Wrote an Honor’s Thesis on the genetic structures controlling leaf shape in two closely related species of monkey flower “The Genetic Architecture Controlling Leaf Shape In Mimulus laciniatus And M. guttatusIn Comparison To The Quantitative Trait Loci That Control Leaf Lobing”.
Favorite faculty member: The entirety of the Classics department has been incredibly supportive of me during my time at Tulane, but I am especially appreciative of my major advisor, Dr. Susann Lusnia. Not only has she taught me multiple classes, but she helped me choose courses that suited my interests and directed me to other professors when my curiosity stepped outside of her field of study. Dr. Lusnia was the perfect guide for my Classics journey, and I am grateful for her dedication to her students.
From Professor Lusnia: Margaret Conrad is one of the most inquisitive, determined, and caring students whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Discussing class assignments with Margaret was always a joy because of her ability to articulate research questions, reflect on criticism, and engage in revision as needed. I look forward to following her career after graduation.
Major: Communication; Minor: School of Liberal Arts Management
- Head of Social Media Marketing and Student Experience Team at Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life
- Public Relations Chair for Newcomb Senate
- Speaker Series Manager at Tulane University American Marketing Association
Favorite faculty member: Professor Cheruiyot taught a class that I was signed-up for only to fulfill a required credit. I had little interest in the subject going into the class, but Professor Cheruiyot’s excitement, stories and lesson about the material made me look forward to her class every day. She reminded me just how exciting and fun learning can be. Additionally, Professor Cheruiyot took the time to acknowledge the unique moment that we found ourselves in during 2020 and acted as a great support for her students.
From Professor Cheruiyot: Nicole Darrow (Nikki) is an amazing student. She brings such positive and inquisitive attitude into the learning space. In my Insects and Human Interactions course, Nikki immersed herself in a world of organisms that unfamiliar and perhaps even afraid these incredibly important and beautiful organism—the insects. Nikki engaged enthusiastically with her peers in the class and played a major role in making our class a memorable, virtual adventure. I am very grateful for Nicole Darrow (Nikki).
Majors: Political Science International Development, Economics
- Drum Major of the Tulane University Marching Band
- CAST Fellow at Tulane University Office of Undergraduate Admissions
- Honors thesis in International Development titled “It’s Not What You Know: Youth Unemployment in Urban Uganda”
Favorite faculty member: The faculty member that has most affected my time at Tulane is Professor Patrick Button. I appreciate them taking the time to cultivate my love for economics and research. Having them as an advisor and mentor has provided me the guidance, motivation, and skills to pursue a graduate education and career in development economics. I have never had a professor so dedicated to the betterment of their students, and I could not have been as successful in my undergraduate career without their tireless assistance.
From Professor Button: Kyla Denwood is one of the most remarkable students I’ve worked with. I am impressed with her ability to build her skills so she can further contribute to her mission of studying and supporting disadvantaged groups, domestically and abroad. I have no doubt she will move on to even greater things and be a major positive change in the world.
Majors: Economics, Political Science; Minor: Spanish
- Newcomb Scholars Program: the program was everything I could have hoped for and I cannot imagine my time at Tulane without being a member of such an inspiring cohort of women.
- Honors Thesis: “A Holistic Approach to International Criminal Justice: ‘Which Type of Accountability’ Rather Than ‘Peace Versus Justice’”
Favorite faculty member: I was first introduced to the witty and gracious Dr. Anna Mahoney during my second-year Newcomb Scholars seminar, where she taught my cohort to analyze case studies on women’s leadership and supported us through the daunting task of writing our own. I have been fortunate enough to continue my relationship with Dr. Mahoney as her Research Assistant for such an intriguing project on the intersection of politics, leadership, race, and gender, where I have gained knowledge and skills that I will use in the future. I will miss working with Dr. Mahoney, who has been such an amazing professor and boss, when I graduate.
From Professor Mahoney: “Kira has been such an important member of my research team this year. Kira was genuinely curious about a project totally new to her, and she embraced new tasks and skills effortlessly. She was diligent and helpful, and I hope she is very proud of having helped to move this project on Black women and their contributions to Congress forward. She was also game to contribute to public scholarship by helping to organize a future public forum on criminal justice reform and substance abuse. She was a great team member on this project and taught me things I didn’t know. I am very proud of all that she has accomplished at Newcomb and look forward to seeing where she goes next.”
Majors: Economics, Political Science International Development; Minor: Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship
- Created the first known dataset of transitional justice mechanisms coded by gender and wrote a research paper on her findings titled “Leveraging Transitional Justice to Address Post-Conflict Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.”
- Earned around $5,000 in grants to fund local self-designed service projects, going on to earn the CPS Stair Award for Excellence in Community Engagement in New Orleans and the Women in Political Science Community Service Award.
- Spent three months on a solo backpacking trip, which included a month spent joining an environmental scuba diving project in Southern Portugal where she assisted with the protection of marine life and underwater pollution clean-ups.
Favorite faculty member: After taking an introductory political science course with Dr. Dancy my freshman year, I’ve been lucky to continue working with him throughout the entirety of my Tulane career. From his international human rights research to his dedication to structural violence on a more local scale in Louisiana, I feel lucky to have worked with and learned from him over the past four years.
From Professor Dancy: Catherine is a talented and ambitious student, who has created numerous opportunities for herself through her time at Tulane. Not only has she performed invaluable work for me as an assistant, but remarkably, she has developed her own research agenda on gender- and sex-based violence in post-conflict zones. Along the way, Catherine has proved capable of directing her own projects, and presenting quality research to academic audiences. Catherine’s future is bright, and I’m sad to see her go.
Majors: Art History, Computer Science; Minor: Arabic
- Honors thesis: "The Casa Group: Confronting Tradition and Modernism Through Art in Post Protectorate Morocco"
- Intern for the Digital Research Internship program; promoted to be the product developer of the internship.
Favorite faculty member: Dr. Jacquelyne Thoni Howard. Whenever I need someone to look to for advice I know that Jacque will be there to help me. She always seriously listens to my thoughts and ideas and has made me realize the strength of my voice. Throughout my time at Tulane Jacque has continually pushed me to be a better person in all aspects of my life and I’m incredibly grateful for her and her mentorship!
From Professor Howard: “As I have watched Lindsay Hardy grow in intellectual and technical maturity over the past three years as a Digital Research Intern, I have been most impressed with Lindsay’s organizational excellence as seen in her ability to drive complex digital projects forward while solving tough technical impediments and collaborating with an interdisciplinary team of faculty and peers with utmost professionalism. Lindsay’s praxis of forward-thinking and feminist leadership has been truly commendable, as she planned and implemented a sustainable training initiative that will ensure the continued success of the team well into the future.
Majors: Math, Computer Science; Minor: School of Liberal Arts Management
- Selected for National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
- Math for All in New Orleans Conference Organizer
- President of Cookies and Code
Favorite faculty member: Professor Scott McKinley, Department of Mathematics. Prof. McKinley has been an engaging instructor and great mentor to me during my time at Tulane. He has sparked my passion for mathematical biology research and encouraged me to pursue a PhD in mathematics, shaping my life trajectory in ways I could have never anticipated.
From Professor McKinley: “Working with Riley has been a remarkable experience and I’m not sure that I will collaborate with an undergraduate who will accomplish so much again. From data collection to mathematical modeling to statistical analysis to computational implementation to proving a mathematical theorem(!), Riley has made major contributions in every phase of research that was available to her. And somehow she still made time to do the meaningful work of being an organizer and mentor for others, in service of expanding access to mathematics and computer science. We’re going to miss her tremendously in the Stochastics Lab, but we’re excited to see what she comes up with next!”
Major: History; Minors: Economics, Political Science
- Newcomb Scholar
- Coauthor of the chapter “#MeToo in the State House” in Politicking While Female: The Political Lives of Women.
Favorite faculty member: Dr. Anna Mahoney has been an excellent mentor to me. I enjoyed her teaching and guidance as part of the Newcomb Scholars program and I learned a lot working as her research assistant about academia and publishing as well as about feminism and local politics.
From Professor Mahoney: Meghan is one of the most insightful students I have ever worked with in my career. Her thoughtful contributions in the Women Leading Change course showed remarkable intellectual maturity in just her second year at Tulane. I was then thrilled, of course, to have her as my research assistant. It was clear that she was capable of advanced tasks, and so I was happy to ask her to write sections of our chapter, “MeToo in the State House.” Her work was excellent, and I am honored to call her a co-author. I know Meghan has a bright future, and I hope to be helpful to her as she charts her path.
Major: Political Science; Minor: Sociology
- Founder and Sex Week Founder and Senior Coordinator
- Member of SAPHE (Sexual Aggression Peer Hotline & Education)
- Creative Pre-medical Scholar (attending Tulane Medical School next year)
Favorite faculty member: I am lucky to consider Professor Scott Nolan as a mentor, fostering deep academic and personal growth throughout my Tulane career. Both inside and outside the classroom, Professor Nolan has instilled confidence in my capabilities as a student and leader. His passion and dedication for what he does and the people around him serves as an inspiration for me.
From Professor Nolan: Kate Kushner is and was an exceptional student at Tulane. Her work with campus organizations demonstrates her activism, service, solidarity, and leadership in intersectional social justice. Kushner, like other great women alums in Tulane’s history, is a fierce critic of status quo. She always came across as a natural leader and unafraid of a challenge. In my class, she was a superstar... an exceptionally bright student in both her intellectual capacity and the tenacity of her work ethic. Her commitment to Tulane students, our campus, and the New Orleans community makes her a model of service and Tulane’s motto: Non sibi, sed suis.
Anne Elise LeBlanc
Majors: Political Economy, Homeland Security; Minor: Spanish
Favorite faculty members: Professor Marilyn Miller was the last Spanish professor I had at Tulane and taught one of the most rewarding and engaging classes I’ve had during my undergraduate career. Her course on Latin American Culture completely opened my eyes to the rich and complex history of Latin America and the Caribbean in a way that I had never previously experienced. She was incredibly knowledgeable about the course material and taught it in a collaborative and open manner that encouraged discussion and analysis on difficult social, cultural, and political issues as well as art, literature, and music. I am so grateful that I got to take Professor Miller’s course because it has reaffirmed that I want to make Spanish language and culture a lifelong educational pursuit.
Professor Mary Olson’s courses on Positive Political Economy and Health Policy and Politics profoundly changed the way I look at complex political, economic, and social issues and gave me a strong analytic framework which I have been able to take with me through other classes and beyond the classroom. She is truly one of Tulane’s brightest professors yet is still able to break down complex problems in ways that are understandable and relatable. I am incredibly grateful that I was able to take two of her courses because she was influential in helping me learn to ask questions and seek answers.
From Professor Miller: Besides always preparing thoughtfully and carefully for every class meeting, Anne Elise consistently engaged with activities and discussion with a wonderful sense of curiosity and a wide-open mind. It was clear throughout the course that she seeks to make meaningful connections between her studies, her values and her actions in her communities. She is an articulate speaker in Spanish and English, and a great listener as well.
From Professor Olson: Anne Elise is an extremely bright, talented, and thoughtful student. She really embraced interdisciplinary learning and was always open to new ways of thinking about complex economic, political, or social problems. In the two courses that she took with me, she always possessed a keen grasp of the material and a strong ability to think critically about the issues. She was very good at synthesizing knowledge from different disciplinary perspectives to help understand and resolve complex policy problems. She was also a very gifted writer and researcher.
Major: Political Economy; Minors: School of Liberal Arts Management, Math
- Honors Thesis: “Pro-life Single-Issue Voting Behaviors - Misperceptions and Moral Attitudes” for which she distributed a nationwide survey.
- Interned through the Newcomb Institute Reproductive Rights & Reproductive Health Internship program, where she worked with Lift Louisiana as a Communications Intern
- Public Relations Director and mentor with Tulane’s Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE) organization.
Favorite faculty member: Dr. Mirya Holman has been my professor, supervisor, and thesis director at Tulane. She has navigated me through the world of academia and has helped me immensely in determining what I aim to contribute to the academic world. I am grateful to have had her guidance throughout my undergraduate career.
From Professor Holman: Janna is smart, driven, and capable. Across her time at Tulane, I’ve seen her push herself to learn new methods and approaches, develop her skills, and connect big ideas to real world policies. She is exceptionally thoughtful and hard-working and I can’t wait to see what wild successes she finds in her life.
Majors: Sociology, International Development; Minor: Psychology
- Her project, “Pearlescent: My Photojournal of Ugandan Femininity” received the Ken Saro-Wiwa Award from the Tulane Africana Studies in April 2020.
- She received a Howard Tilton Memorial Library Fellowship for her project “Pop of Color: A Study of the Representation of Women of Color in Contemporary Pop Music and their Potential Impact on Libraries and Archives.”
- Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Committee Chair in Undergraduate Student Government (USG) for 2 years
Favorite faculty member: Dr. Izabela Steflja has become my favorite professor over my four years at Tulane. She is so knowledgeable and passionate about her work and I aspire to grow to be as passionate and engaged in the work I hope to do one day. Dr. Steflja has provided me with so much support and enlightenment and has pushed me to not only continue exploring my interests but to also be the best student I can be and for that, I am forever thankful.
From Professor Steflja: I am honored to be named by Joanitah Nakiggwe. Teaching Joanitah and watching her grow over the years at Tulane has been a true pleasure. The combination of Joanitah’s intelligence, creativity, and background meant that she always had a unique project and point to contribute to the class. Her achievements at Tulane are exemplary, including the well-deserved Ken Saro Wiwa award from Africana Studies. I look forward to seeing where her ambitions take her!
Newcomb Scholar; Major: Public Health; Minor: Chinese
- “Honors thesis: “An Investigation of Families’ and Providers’ Experiences and Support Needs Following Perinatal Loss”
- President of Tulane Water Polo
- Research assistant on the GESS 1900 project, investigating whether a Gender and Sexuality Studies course could impact students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behavior regarding sexual violence
Favorite faculty member: Dr. Alyssa Lederer. Dr. Lederer has been such an important mentor for me throughout college. From believing in my potential as a research assistant for the GESS 1900 project, to teaching me what it means to be a feminist researcher, to guiding me and supporting me every step of the way through my honors thesis research, I could not be the researcher or person I am today without her counsel.
From Professor Lederer: I have had the immense pleasure of working with Sydney for the past several years. Not only has she made remarkable contributions to my research, but it has been incredible to watch her gain the confidence and skills to conduct her own research study for her honors thesis, which she completed with great success this year. Sydney’s passion for and commitment to sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health, public health, and medicine are beyond evident. She continuously pushes herself to learn more and to advocate on behalf of others, and I couldn’t be more impressed with her dedication and all she has done for the Tulane and New Orleans communities.
Majors: English, Political Science International Development
- Expanded the community involvement efforts of the organization Women and Youth Supporting Each Other (WYSE) while serving as Executive Director during the 2020-2021 school year.
- Organized a campus-wide food collection effort for the New Orleans Community Fridges at the end of the Fall 2020 semester.
- Co-facilitated an open workshop on Restorative and Transformative Justice as a Community Engagement Advocate.
Favorite faculty member: I met Ben Brubaker at a PossePlus Retreat my freshman year, and from there he recruited me into the Community Engagement Advocate and Solidarity Fellows programs, permanently altering my direction at Tulane and in life. With his extensive wisdom, experience, and heart, Ben has helped develop my critical analysis and shown me what solidarity looks like. Coupled with the wisdom of Sienna Abdulahad, Ashana Bigard, Jimmy Huck, and other amazing program leaders and members that I met because of him, I have been honored to receive such unparalleled guidance concerning social justice, community, liberation, and life that will continue to guide me beyond Tulane, and I am forever grateful that we were introduced.
From Ben Brubaker: I was lucky enough to meet Caroline at the Posse Plus retreat when she was a Sophomore. I am grateful to have gotten to know Caroline over the past several years through her involvement on campus and in programs like the Community Engagement Advocates and the Solidarity Fellows. I am pretty sure that anyone who meets Caroline will notice that she is a truly genuine person, very thoughtful and intentional. Caroline goes out of her way to make people feel understood and valued- something that has a profound impact on the people around her. And of course, Caroline is a brilliant student and an awesome facilitator and has so many other gifts; but again, it’s something about her humanity- the way she engages with others, that will always stick with me. We need more of that; more fierce and unapologetic passion for justice, paired with compassion and a yearning to cultivate a world where our collective liberation is more and more possible. As a staff member, I often view it as my role to be there as a solid, steady support for my students. But Caroline was always the type of student to make that a mutual relationship; one that levels the power dynamic, and honors our shared humanity.
Majors: Economics, Social Policy and Practice; Minors: Psychology, Philosophy
- Senior Honors Thesis: “The Effect of Judicial Selection Method on Juvenile Incarceration”
- Newcomb Scholar
- Intern for the Title IX Office
- Tutor with Operation Restoration’s College in Prison Program at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women
Favorite faculty member: Grace would like to thank Professor Camilo Leslie for igniting and supporting her academic passion for interdisciplinary legal studies and research. After teaching her sophomore year Sociology of Law course, he went out of his way at every turn—study abroad applications, thesis development and writing, and finally law school applications—to encourage her to aim high and think more complexly, inside and outside of the classroom. Her time at Tulane would not have been the same without his guidance or intellectual engagement, and his continued mentorship has turned her dream of pursuing a legal education at a top law school into reality.
From Professor Leslie: “During my four years at Tulane, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching many hundreds of students. Grace Slapak is, without a hint of exaggeration, the smartest, most mature, feistiest, and most inspiring student I’ve encountered. I first met Ms. Slapak when she enrolled in my Sociology of Law course during the Fall 2018 semester. Immediately she stood out for her quick wit, poise, firm command of the readings, incisive questions, and cheerful willingness to disagree with the readings and her professor. Her preparedness, ease with the challenging material, thirst for debate, and attention never flagged. The class was a joy to teach, due disproportionately to her presence. My conversations with Grace in the intervening years, and my just-concluded stint as her Senior Thesis Co-Chair have only deepened my appreciation for her intellect, curiosity, and character. I’m certain that she will go on to do important things in the world that reflect wonderfully on this university. She embodies the absolute best of Tulane.”
Majors: Classical Studies, Anthropology
- Honors Thesis: “Death is only the Beginning: Gender Identity and Personhood in Pre- and Protopalatial (3000-1700 BCE) Minoan Mortuary Landscapes”
- Served as Women’s Resources Chair for the Tulane University Right to Life Club in 2020
- Presented part of her thesis at the Classical Association for the Middle West and South’s 2021 Conference in a virtual talk titled “Rest in Pieces (RIP): Mutability of Gender Identity and Personhood in Pre- and Protopalatial (3000-1700 BCE) Minoan Tholos Tombs”
Favorite faculty member: Professor Emilia Oddo of the Classical Studies Department has been the most influential faculty member for me. She took me in as a freshman when she noticed my interest in Greek Archaeology and has continuously mentored me through my entire college career. Beyond being an academic mentor, she has walked me through stressful moments and motivated me to keep going. Because of her, I am able to pursue my dreams and study Classical Archaeology next year in England!
From Professor Oddo: “I have had the pleasure to know and work with Renée ever since she started attending Tulane. She is a first-class student, one of the most promising I have ever taught: passionate, dedicated, hard-working, respectful, and a pleasure to be with. Ever since that very first semester in Greek Art and Archaeology, she has demonstrated a true engagement with Greek antiquity, which she has nourished and pursued with patience and acumen. She has a bright future in front of her, I have no doubt, which will make her Tulanian family proud.”
Major: Public Health
- Elected chapter president by the incredible and inspiring women of Phi Mu
- Involved in impactful research investigating the role of genetics and early life adversity in the neurodevelopment of children through Dr. Stacy Drury’s BANGL lab
- Intern for Metro Centers for Community Advocacy supporting survivors of domestic violence.
Favorite faculty member: Professor Mollye Demosthenidy is deeply admired by so many of her students for her spirited and insightful passion for healthcare reform. My time in her courses has deeply shifted the way I view health, equity, and justice, and I strive to emulate her intellect, influence, and charm in my goals as a future leader in healthcare. As someone who never expected to be so captivated by her lectures on insurance payment structures, it is clear to me she was destined to be an educator and to empower her students with the knowledge, optimism, and vigor to feel they can affect real change.
From Professor Demosthenidy: Renee is a standout student. In class, she is a constant, engaged participant, typically in the front of the room! Even under a mask, I can see her thinking, the wheels in her head turning, about the real issues we were addressing in public health. In nearly every class conversation, she had a thoughtful question or comment. Her academic work is always impressive, but beyond that, she’s a friendly, even-keeled presence and will be a tremendous asset to our public health community.
Major: Public Health
- Assistant coach for Girls on the Run
- Member of Women in Technology (WIT)
Favorite faculty member: Professor John Lefante in the Department of Biostatistics is an inspiration for me. He was always enthusiastic about teaching and helping students and to this day, biostatistics remains one of my favorite subjects in school.
From Professor Lefante: It was a pleasure having Jing in my class, Biostatistics in Public Health. She was always engaged and eager to understand all aspects of the course. She demonstrated exceptional dedication to developing her public health and data analytic skills.
Major: Political Economy; Minors: Business, Political Science International Development
- Sexual Assault Peer Hotline & Education (SAPHE) 2020-2021 Education & Outreach Coordinator; Spring 2020 Events Coordinator
- Co-created and produced The Sex Unspoken Podcast with the Title IX Office
- Publication in the Tulane Journal of Policy and Political Economy: “The Impact of Public Funding Restrictions on Essential Family Planning Services & Fetal Health Outcomes”
Favorite faculty member: “Dr. Mary Olson’s mentorship and teaching has significantly impacted my personal and academic growth in my time at Tulane. Dr. Olson helped me transform my general curiosity about health policy into a targeted research interest and honors thesis. Throughout the year, Dr. Olson challenged me to pursue rigorous methods and taught me everything I know about econometric research. Her mentorship shaped my Honors Thesis into my most significant academic achievement and enabled me to develop my strong passion for research and economics.”
From Professor Olson: Claire is such an intelligent, hard-working, and committed young woman. As a student, she embraced new challenges, pushed herself to reach new goals, and always found ways to be successful. She actively sought opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. She wrote an honors thesis that investigated how different states’ efforts to restrict funding for women’s reproductive health care services affected maternal and fetal health outcomes. She really took the initiative in terms of collecting data and acquiring the econometric skills needed to conduct a sophisticated econometric analysis. She showed great energy and enthusiasm for applied empirical health policy research and I was quite impressed with her efforts and thesis. Claire has also demonstrated an outstanding commitment to public service and put her knowledge, training, and passion for reproductive health care policies into practice.
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