I’m writing this post as I sit in my favorite café in my neighborhood of London, looking out the window at the surprisingly sunny weather. I’m in the Newcomb Scholars class of 2015 and am currently spending the entire year abroad at the London School of Economics, a decision I could not be happier about. In fact, I knew I wanted to study abroad at LSE even before I arrived at Tulane. Economics is my passion, so the opportunity to take classes offered by one of the best Economics programs available was enough convincing for me, not to mention the chance to live in one of the largest financial centers of the world.
My second term is a few days away from being over, leaving only one long spring break and a summer term full of exams before my year abroad is complete. LSE has certainly challenged me academically, and getting used to British university conventions has proven to be difficult at times. All the classes here last for the entire year, with one exam at the end that comprises your entire grade. Studying for exams is sure to be quite stressful, to say the least.
Not only have I been able to explore my interests academically, but I’ve also pushed myself to be as involved in campus life as I could. Much of my social life at LSE revolves around my Netball team, which I decided to join despite not knowing the sport even existed before being approached at Freshers fair by a few team representatives. Whether it’s stuffing our faces with pizza at team dinners or getting dressed up together for Halloween, spending time with my Netball teammates has been the highlight of my year. I also had the chance to go on a week-long ski trip in the French alps with the Snowsports society, spend a weekend with my best friend from home who was studying abroad in Budapest, and take a short trip to Paris with a friend from LSE. In a few days I will be on spring break, and embarking on a two-week trip to Berlin, Copenhagen, and Amsterdam. This year abroad has been one of the most exciting and interesting years of my life, and I cannot express how important I think it is to spend some time living in a different country.
Knowing I only have one term left is bittersweet; I am more than excited to return to Tulane and see the friends I left behind, but there is no doubt I will miss those that I have grown close to here in London. I can only hope that someday after I graduate I will get the chance to live in this amazing city again!
Hi it’s Kara again! I am writing this from Paris, France where I am spending the spring semester of my junior year. I am taking classes at Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne through Tulane’s EDUCO program, a study abroad partnership with Emory University, Cornell University, and Duke University. While I am continuing to take classes towards my Political Science major, the program also gives me the chance to further explore my French minor. All my courses are completely en français with students who are mostly native speakers. I am mostly learning about French politics and French history. My favorite course so far is on French bureaucracy, a subject that I promise is much more interesting than the name would suggest. The courses are very demanding, especially given the language barrier, but I am having the time of my life and my French is improving rapidement.
Paris is an amazing and vibrant city. From Montparnasse to Montmartre, there are a dozens of sites to see and neighborhoods to explore. Growing up in Chicago, I must admit that I have really missed the constant activity of a big city (also: efficient public transportation–sorry NOLA). Some students on the program are living in a home stay, but I decided to go with the dorm option. Since I am living in a dorm of mostly francophone Belgian and Luxembourgian students, I am still regularly conversing in French. I am living in building within a dorm complex called Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, one of the few dorm complexes within Paris (many French university students live in independent apartments or with their parents). Cité Universitaire (called Cité-U for short) has been an intellectual center for almost 90 years, hosting notable residents including Jean-Paul Sartre. This year there was even a campaign for Cité-U to receive a Nobel Peace Prize. This candidacy was publicly supported by the current French minister for women’s rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, also a former Cité-U resident. There are many benefits to doing a home stay but my dorm experience has been amazing in its own right. Added bonus: on clear nights I can see the Eiffel Tower sparkling in the distance.
Even aside from all the experiences that Paris and Europe specifically have to offer, studying abroad in itself is an incredible experience. It has exposed me to new cultures and perspectives. I also have more free time to pursue my interests and explore the city and continent. This is not to say to say I do not miss Tulane. Believe me, Mardi Gras weekend was very bittersweet and I am sad my craving for crawfish will go unfulfilled this upcoming spring. If anything, studying in a foreign country has made me appreciate Tulane and New Orleans all the more. J’adore Paris but I cannot wait to laissez les bon temps rouler in New Orleans once again for my senior year!
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Suzanne and I am in the Newcomb Scholars Class of 2015. I am studying Political Economy and Cell & Molecular Biology and am currently abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. I’m here with some tips I wish I had known before I came abroad! All the advice come from true events. Enjoy!
- Pack an extra set of underwear and a toothbrush in your purse in case the airline takes your carry-on luggage and then eats it… along with your checked luggage. You don’t know how long you’ll have to last until they can locate it and drop it off!
- Bring Command Hooks, a wall calendar, and travel packs of peanut butter (true priorities).
- If your room is on the first floor, that does not mean the basement. Do not get in the elevator to go to the basement and if you do, no, that is not what a Danish dorm hallway looks like! Don’t worry though; once you figure it out and press the button for the elevator, it will be guaranteed that both of your RAs and several of your new classmates will be forced to ride down and greet you.
- After your RA leads you to your first floor room, make your bed to feel more at home. If your program provides sheets, they have most likely given you something resembling a sac. This is not a light sleeping bag. Do not actually crawl inside the first night. This is a comforter cover. Pretend like you knew all along when your classmates say that they were confused as well.
- You did not lose your transportation pass within hours of your RA handing it to you, I promise. Take a deep breath and look through your purse again. If you follow this advice, you might avoid the awkward conversation with your RA, which ends with her buying you a ticket to school for your first day… only to find your transportation pass in the purse you are currently wearing.
- You will get lost; it’s just a fact. But getting lost will allow you to see parts of the city that you may have never experienced. Pay attention to your surroundings, because you may want to come back to this part of “lost.”
- Don’t forget a three-prong converter for your computer. If you do, it will just force you to make friends faster!
- Don’t use an American plug extension cord. You will blow a fuse and have to sit in the dark for two hours before your RA can replace it.
- Make time for Scholadarity… There’s always a Newcomb girl not too far away.
10. Cherish the good and the bad. I swear you’ll laugh about the bad later, and the bad makes better stories!
Contributions from women like you:
- Meeting Lene Espersen, and having her tour you around the Danish Parliament. Ms. Espersen is of the Conservative Party, the Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and will be celebrating her 20th year in office in 2014.
- Random Danish girl giving you a pink hat.
- Grandpas running you over in the metro station.
- Slipping and falling on your butt in front of school the first week.
- Buying something that looks like milk but sure doesn’t smell like it.
- Pouring yogurt into your cereal because it’s in a milk container.
- Getting a random allergic reaction, to the weird smelling milk.
- Panicking and asking a man with face tattoos what milk to buy and in the process finally learning the difference between them all.
- Feeling drugged because the coffee is so strong on the first day.
- Going to a place called “Oops” on the second day.
- Your dorm room toilet breaking and having to use the public one on the third day.
- Losing your bike keys and your house keys on the fourth day.
- Having your iPhone fall in a toilet on the fifth day.
- Having your iPhone pickpocketed on the sixth day.
- On the seventh day… just take a rest.
Well, that’s all for now, folks. It’s only been a month and as you can see, the adventure has been real! Thank you to my friends for their wonderful contributions to this list.
My name is Jolene George. I’m a freshman here at Tulane and a part of the 2017 Cohort. I was born in Bellingham, Washington, and grew up in Oak Harbor, Washington, a small town on one of the San Juan Islands. Aside from a trip to visit family on the east coast when I was very little and a three day choir tour to Oregon, I had never been outside of Washington, or even western Washington, until coming to New Orleans in August to move in to Tulane. I knew this was going to be an adventure, and I welcomed it.
Growing up, I was heavily involved in music and theatre. I had been performing at the local community theatre since I was about eight, taken private voice lessons, and then in High School had gone on to become a Choir Club officer and to spearhead a theatrical makeup component for all of our productions. To some extent, I expected myself to go to college after High School for either music or theatre. At the end of my senior year, I was determined to major in theatre tech, then go on to a technical school for FX makeup. I even filled out both of my college applications, to Tulane and Loyola, as a theatre major. When I got my acceptance letters, that was what I was accepted as.
That being said, I am not a theatre major. In fact, I haven’t taken a single theatre course and I found that I no longer had the time to be a part of the Newcomb-Tulane Choir after one semester. Somehow over the summer, I began to realize that there was more in the world then my tiny little island, and that while a lot of it was amazing and awe inspiring, a lot of it wasn’t so good either. Of course, at about this time I was heavily inspired by the movie rendition of Les Miserables which was now out on DVD and which I shamelessly watched three times a week, so I may have had a little bit of revolutionary fervor spurred on by singing Do You Hear the People Sing at the top of my lungs as I began categorizing and packing to leave the island and start a new life at Tulane. But the sentiment still remained. Perhaps we aren’t trying to overthrow an oppressive monarchy and stage a 17th century revolution, but there are still things that very much need to change and there is definitely still corruption and oppression present in the way our world is run. It was, and still is perhaps, a bit grandiose of me to say, but I wanted to change that.
Thus, my new life at Tulane would start as a political science major. A mix of factors led me to that decision, what I have described above coupled with the very real fact that I know my limitations and abilities and I know that, while I enjoy music and theatre, I would not enjoy the pressures and constant scrutiny involved in one day working in either one of those fields. And besides that, I felt like there was something more to do besides theatre. Over the course of my first semester, I fell in love with philosophy and decided that I wanted to double major with that. This semester I began thinking about possibly triple majoring in classics. All three of the fields tied into my bigger idea of what I wanted to do.
Obviously, I want politics to be my focus. I don’t know that I’ll ever actually want to hold a political office, I know myself and I know that I like shiny things, but I do believe that those in office need more checks on them by the people in order to keep them serving the people as they are meant to, and that’s where I want to do most of my work. I believe, however, that good politics must be backed up by good philosophy. I want to know why I’m doing it and be able to back it up, to have learned about different theories, what they entail, and what could come from them before springing into action. Because, at least to me, the chief end of politics is philosophy, to elevate the people to a state in which they are truly free. Classics came in as a sort of foundation and middle ground between the two of them. Looking at the Greeks and Romans, we find the basis for a lot of our political institutions today, but we also see a lot of our cultural and philosophical foundations. It’s sort of the cornerstone that ties everything together for me and helps me to be able to continually relate everything I study back to everything else. Because none of these subjects exist in a vacuum, but instead they’re living, breathing ideas that interact and take away from each other.
At Tulane I also study French, possibly wanting to minor in it if possible. I love the language, but I also find that I tend to draw a lot of inspiration from the philosophies behind French history and the French revolution. In specific, the ideals that are still used in France today about liberté, egalité, and fraternité. It’s the idea that man must work together, that the people must all be equal and free, but also that there’s a sense of oneness tying us together. After all, we are all humans, all people. I think it’s important to work together and recognize the humanity in one another. Right now, I’m planning on studying abroad Junior year. My goal is to be abroad for the whole year and spend at least one of the two semesters in Paris.
I’m very involved with the Newcomb organization Women In Politics as the freshman representative, and plan to remain involved in it throughout my years at Tulane. I’ve found that with Women in Politics and the Newcomb Scholars, or with Newcomb in general, I’ve found a sense of belonging. The house feels sort of like a home away from home and I value the comfort it provides. I’m especially thankful for the support network I’ve found in my fellow scholars and the recourses that have been made available to me through the Newcomb Institute.
Right now, I hope to work in advocacy after Tulane. Specifically, I want to focus on class relations and closing the wealth gap that’s become a major dividing issue in American society and politics. That issue in particular is extremely important to me, as it very much was a factor in my experience upon first coming to Tulane. My research interests revolve around analyzing the factors that contribute to wealth inequality and the wage gap along with the effectiveness of possible solutions.
I’m definitely enjoying Tulane and all that New Orleans has to offer. As I experience new things, I’ll keep you updated on anything exciting or challenging that comes my way!
Hello fellow scholars! My name is Mikayla Stern-Ellis and I am in the 2017 Cohort. I am so excited to be a part of this incredible group of women and I can’t wait to get to know all of you!
So a little about me. Most of you probably heard about my sister story, but if not, the gist is that I found my half sister at Tulane three weeks ago. It has been a crazy whirlwind with all of the media that have expressed interest in the story, and last Friday we were flown to New York to be on The Today Show and CNN. The whole experience has been mind blowing, and finding my sister along with becoming a Newcomb Scholar have been two major signs of many that Tulane was most definitely the right choice.
I am involved in a variety of activities at Tulane. I am double majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Anthropology and fulfilling pre-health requirements. I am on the rowing team even though I have never played sports before, so it is both challenging and usually very fun. I also just got accepted into the Audubon Zoo volunteer program where I will be taking a training course every Sunday for eleven weeks. Hopefully after my general training and my basic volunteering begins I will be able to take a course in animal handling, which is a dream come true after volunteering at the San Diego Zoo where you can barely get near the animals if you aren’t a paid employee. I work at Audubon Charter School as a tutor and I am participating in the Vagina Monologues this semester. Informally, I love to sing with my roommate while she plays guitar or piano, and some day you may be lucky enough to hear us screaming Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus at the top of our lungs in the music rooms. We discovered our mutual love for music fairly early on in our freshman year and have been the closest of friends ever since.
Pre-Tulane I attended the San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts where I majored in Theater. Although I do not wish to pursue what I majored in as many students at my school do, I hope to one of these semesters audition for a play because I definitely miss that side of myself. I was very involved in community service, being the co-chair of the Hand Up Youth Food Pantry and Teen Leadership Program. I was, and still am, interested in all things pertaining to animals, so I volunteered at the SD Zoo teaching visitors about conservation and endangered species and at Project Wildlife rehabilitating native birds. My main focus, however, is orangutans, and I have traveled twice to Borneo in Indonesia and Malaysia to volunteer for orangutan conservation organizations. After I graduate from Tulane I hope to achieve my PhD in Primatology and then move to Borneo to work for Orangutan Foundation International. So basically, I’m an animal freak.
What else? Well, I have two lesbian moms, and both a human and a dog little brother. I am Jewish and I went to Spanish immersion elementary school. I love Thai food and peas and chocolate of all forms and I would say I love food in general but I’m a vegan so the selection is a bit limited. And finally, I will end with a quote that my mom gave me from the inside of her Honest Tea label, and I am convinced it is the reason I got into this program because I used it in my application essay: “Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” –Buddha
I’m Taylor McMahon and I’m in the 2017 cohort of Newcomb Scholars. I grew up in Tallahassee, Florida and my mother, an elementary school teacher, always instilled in me a healthy understanding of the value of education and the importance of more than just grades.
At Tulane, I’m majoring in Linguistics and Political Science and trying to learn Arabic (الله شاء إن, wish me luck). I chose Arabic because I believe that progress in our relationships with one another, on an interpersonal to an international level, requires us to at least try to really understand one another. Language is so intertwined with culture and is such an important part of how we think and how we operate, and I hope that exposing myself to a language so different than my native English will give me respect for what I can’t necessarily relate to.
I’ve gotten involved in a number of organizations making a positive impact at Tulane and in New Orleans. I am a Tulane SAPHE volunteer – Sexual Aggression Hotline and Peer Educators. Through SAPHE I have met a number of incredibly strong and educated women who are committed to being a resource for those who experience sexual aggression or sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, or dating violence, and providing an understanding voice to turn to for college women and men.
I am also working for Elevate New Orleans, a nonprofit that provides middle and high school student athletes essential resources to improve and maintain their grades and valuable basketball training and travel. The most important resource that Elevate provides the students is the mentorship of people who take an active interest in them, their education, and their performance on the court in an unconditionally supportive way – and a lot of young people are lacking that leadership.
I’ll also be setting up some beehives for a local urban farm this spring. Between high school and starting at Tulane last fall I took a gap year, during which I had a number of incredible learning experiences. One of the stranger skills I picked up was beekeeping – organic apiculture, really. I’m anxious for the weather to warm up so I can start up some hives that will act as valuable pollinators for the flora of Uptown New Orleans (not to mention the honey).
So far I’m loving New Orleans and am looking forward to all that the Newcomb Scholars program has to offer. I’ll keep y’all updated with the exciting developments in my research plans.
As we prepare for the Spring 2014 semester, we are so excited to welcome the Newcomb Scholars from the Class of 2017 into the program!
- Samantha Adams, New Orleans, LA
- Ashley Beggin, Philadelphia, PA
- Madeleine Bell, San Francisco, CA
- Kamaria Brisco, New Orleans, LA
- Adel Broussard, Kaplan, LA
- Audrey Davis, Portland, OR
- Hannah Dean, Sharon, MA
- Laura Edington, Seattle, WA
- Layla Entrikin, Portland, OR
- Jolene George, Oak Harbor, WA
- Abby Jones, Birmingham, AL
- Meredith McInturff, Lexington, KY
- Taylor McMahon, Tallahassee, FL
- Kelsey Reynolds, Los Angeles, CA
- Emma Saltzberg, Baltimore, MD
- Manali Souda, San Jose, CA
- Mikayla Stern-Ellis, San Diego, CA
- Mia Tucker, Cross River, NY
- Lilith Winkler-Schor, Kirkland, WA
- Anne Wolff, Fremont, CA
The 2017 cohort participated in the annual Newcomb Scholars Retreat in November and will begin their first seminar, “History and Philosophy of Higher Education: The Role of College Women,” in the spring. Welcome to the program, ladies!
Yale’s decision to re-conceptualize “rape” as “non-consensual sex” (See: Jezebel article below) weakens the perceived criminality of sexual violence, and in effect, permits a diminished social and institutional response to such incidents—a shoulder shrug, rather than an expulsion; an “it happens,” rather than a “we will never allow this to happen on our campus again.”
An exceptional university and research institution, such as Yale, should understand how the terms we employ set the course and quality of our subsequent work. Le mot juste (I’ve been waiting forever to use this phrase) is utilized by both artists and scientists, for lyrical or technical purposes, in order to achieve the most sublime, precise encapsulation of their “truth.” Quite simply, the right word matters.
In response to backlash over the seeming euphemism of “non-consensual sex,” university officials assured that they hoped the new term would “refer to a range of behavior that would not meet the legal criteria for rape” (Shelton, 2013).
According to the National Institute for Justice (NIJ), rape, a felony, is most consistently defined as:
nonconsensual oral, anal, or vaginal penetration of the victim by body parts or objects using force, threats of bodily harm, or by taking advantage of a victim who is incapacitated or otherwise incapable of giving consent (NIJ, 2010).
The definition of rape implies that sex = penetration. Building a definition of “sex” is a task for another day. The point is, the NIJ also provides a definition for the equally prosecutable behaviors that fall outside of rape: sexual assault. These actions are nonconsensual, can be attempted or fully executed, actual or intimidated (NIJ, 2010). Most importantly, the term sexual assault signals that these behaviors are violent (criminal) acts, not merely unlucky happenstances.
Rape is non-consensual sex is rape, but the terms mean different things for perpetrators, survivors, and bystanders. In rape, there is a criminal (another no-no word for university stakeholders) agency on part of an individual (e.g. He/she raped him/her.) It denotes dominance, aggression, personal violation, and a transgression against legal, social, and ethical codes of acceptable sexual behavior. In the subject-verb-object structure, when someone rapes someone you know who is doing what to whom, and therefore, who must be held accountable and who must be supported.
Conversely, “non-consensual sex” is framed as a shared experience, implying mutualism (e.g. He/she had non-consensual sex with him/her.) This scenario doesn’t reek criminal. The re-structuring of rape into non-consensual sex opaques the rapist’s agency in committing the act of sexual violence, and thereby coddles the rapist with impunity and diffuses responsibility for the crime to the survivor.
This is the function of sexual violence: to blur, obstruct, obliterate, shadow, cast doubt, disassociate, and deny. Our words should not serve this purpose. Universities owe it to their community members to speak truth to sexual violence, and that starts by calling the thing by its name- to call rape, “rape.” This straight talk is essential to sustaining effective policies that prosecute rapists, and to replacing rape culture with a culture of healthy, inter-personal intimacy.
As I begin the last week of my internship and plan my Tulane return (in less than 2 weeks!!!) I can’t help but feel immensely grateful for the amazing summer opportunities I’ve had! I spent the majority of my summer working at the Center for Community Change in Washington, D.C. as a press intern. The Center is a Not-for-profit that works with grassroots organizing around economic and social justice issues with their current big push being immigration reform. My Latin American Studies major played a big part in finding this position and I think being chosen as part of the team for the summer. I got to do everything from write and schedule social media postings to attending direct actions to writing blog posts about issues I care about. I tend to be one of those people that simply cares so much about a lot of issues and when I look to my future I know that I want to work directly with those issues-but to name a concrete job or career to let me do that? No idea. Working at CCC I saw the effects of organizing and the real world ways in which people who care can translate their passions into a life.
This summer I also got to spend two weeks in Honduras as a student leader with two youth volunteer groups. My first trip to volunteer in Honduras was when I was only 14, the summer after my freshman year of high school! I can’t believe it has been 5 summers now that I’ve traveled to my second home. While I always feel like I can’t ever spend enough time there I also feel as if I’ve been going there all my life because Honduras is really (as cheesy as it sounds bear with me) where I grew up and where I found myself and where my family is. You can read a little bit more about how Honduras fits into my passion for immigration reform here: http://www.communitychange.org//blog/post/untitled_17 .
Basically, I would be a COMPLETELY different person with my summer trips to Honduras. My majors (public health & Latin American studies), my Spanglish, my passions, my future plans, even my goofy personality and outlook on life has all come from my time in Honduras with my hermanos (Honduran brothers) and working with immigration this summer has brought everything full circle. I feel completely right in my studies and future goals and I am, if possible, even more grateful to have the support of all the other scholars and the Newcomb scholar program to help me reach my Honduran dreams. As I say thank you for my amazing summer I also can’t wait to be reunited with my cohort again and swap summer adventure stories!