Ascend at the Aspen InstituteB.S., Communications- Persuasion and Social Influence; Media Studies,
From the time I stepped onto campus as a Breakthrough (formerly Summerbridge) NOLA student in the summer of 2004, I knew Newman was a special place. Breakthrough connected New Orleans public school students with near-peer student educators for summer enrichment that made learning fun. After each Breakthrough summer, I took on the new school year ahead of the curriculum, with a new set of role models who made pursuing higher education look cool.
When I stepped onto Newman’s campus as a freshman in the fall of 2008, I was embraced by peers accepting of the differences that make me who I am and faculty gracious enough to help me navigate a transition to a new, more demanding academic environment.
When I returned to Newman each summer to train for upcoming seasons, I reflected on lifelong connections, heartfelt memories, and a community that I can always call home.
When I think of Newman today, I know it’s a special place filled with special people. People like Ms. Hedgepeth - who made the 1,300-mile trip to Ithaca, NY to see me graduate from college; like Coach Stew - who flew a Cornell flag from his front porch upon my college decision; and like the Usdin family - who remain but a phone call away.
But my connection to Newman is deeper than my experiences as a Breakthrough NOLA and Newman class of 2012 alumnus. My mom has punched the clock at 1903 Jefferson Avenue for 18 years, and the Newman community has been there for our family every step along the way.
Where my journey began just over a mile away but a world of difference from Newman in the Magnolia Projects, we like to say it takes a village. Newman is as much a part of the village that raised me as any community I’ve been a part of.