The NTC Center for Academic Equity has been growing every year since it launched in 2016. This small team does some of the most critical work on campus – ensuring all students, especially those traditionally under represented, get access to the valuable education and enrichment experiences Tulane offers. Kennon Stewart, NTC ’20, a mathematics and sociology major, credits the CAE with supporting him throughout his time at Tulane as well as providing a space for him to excel, do research and learn more about himself and his future goals.
“For underrepresented populations at Tulane, the CAE is what keeps students at college. As a queer, first-generation college student of color there’s a lot of things I didn’t know about Tulane coming into the school. I didn’t have a network of students to connect with immediately, nor was I familiar with the way classes worked. The Center instructs students on how to make the most of their four years and gives them the resources to do so. I can honestly say that, if there were no CAE at this school, I wouldn’t have made it through my four years at Tulane.” Stewart says.
Research is a valuable experience for undergraduates. It teaches skills that can be used across industries and careers. It can also feel intimidating to a lot of students. The Center removes some of the barriers students may face by connecting students with opportunities, providing resources, and hosting a platform for them to share their hard work with peers and the entire campus community through the IDEA Symposium. Stewart was a research scholar during the second half of his time at Tulane.
“I was a Research Fellow with the Center for two years researching policies bettering the experience of undocumented Tulanians and presenting my research at the Idea Symposium," says Stewart. "My laptop actually broke while I was working in the Center one day and Dr. Paula Booke was able to get me a new one, allowing me to be able to continue my work in college.”
Newcomb-Tulane College doesn’t just want our students to learn in New Orleans but to gain a global perspective. Each year the Center for Global Education funds a study abroad trip called Race and Performance in Brazil. Stewart and a cohort of nine other students traveled to Brazil to study the expression of racial identity in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia. “We were able to spend two weeks learning Portuguese, engaging with the Afro-Brazilians communities in Brazil, and even went to a community dance gathering where we danced samba with some of the spriest senior citizens I’d ever met.” says Stewart. “Since we traveled with Ms. Carolyn Barber-Pierre, who is so well connected with the Brazilian community in New Orleans, we were able to gain a much deeper appreciation for the country and the people living there.”
The team at CAE is small but they forge impactful connections with students. They aren’t just programming specialists and supportive staff - they become mentors and friends. Stewart recalls his first crawfish boil on campus: “Ms. Paula Allen, the Center’s administrative secretary, is one of my favorite people on campus. There was once a crawfish boil on campus and Ms. Paula sat with me and showed me how to peel my first crawfish! I’m happy to say that I’ve moved onto crabs, oysters, and other Cajun seafoods.”
Stewart aspires to work in data science after graduation and is actively seeking opportunities to apply his talents after his initial job offer was rescinded due to COVID-19.