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Ted Buchanan

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 Tulane Empowers

First-of-its-kind scholarship memorializes social work faculty member
The endowed scholarship was established by a generous gift from the Delta Foundation through the efforts of Roger and Carol Nooe.
 
Students help make birth safer
Tulane students collaborate with Birthing Project USA to reduce the number of mothers who die in childbirth and babies who die in the first year of life.
 
New Orleans Posse chapter opens with Tulane’s help
A $200,000 grant from the Edward G. Schlieder Educational Foundation boosts program that provides a social network for New Orleans teens bound for college.
 
Our design, their homes
Social Entrepreneurship Professor Byron Mouton talks about how the URBANbuild program has made a difference for students and neighborhoods. View the video.
 
Tribe Turns to Tulane to Revive Language
Linguistics program comes to aid of Tunica-Biloxi Tribe needing help to recover its “dead” native language.
 
Mobile Clinic Heads to Plaquemines Parish
Crisis response unit will help children and families affected by the BP oil spill.

Building a Career on Empathy

Tulane alumna uses social entrepreneurship in schools 

LauraWhite

Mary Sparacello                                                                         msparace@tulane.edu

Laura White (LA '12) is using what she learned at Tulane University to change how elementary school students are taught.

"You need to begin with empathy," says White, whose work at Ashoka's Empathy Initiative seeks to make this essential ingredient as important as reading, writing and arithmetic in our nation's elementary schools. Ashoka is a Washington, D.C. nonprofit network of social entrepreneurs.

"Empathy is being able to understand the feelings and emotions of other people and then being able to act in the best way for both of you," says White.

The foundation for this approach materialized recently when White was studying political economy as a Tulane undergraduate. She helped design Tulane's new minor in social innovation and social entrepreneurship as well as a social innovation incubator program for students. A native of Johns Creek, Ga., White is the founder of Swim for Success, a program that provides free swimming lessons to children in low-income families. As a Tulane junior, White traveled to Denmark and the Netherlands to study innovative educational nonprofits. These efforts earned her Tulane's top student outreach award last year, the Jim Runsdorf Excellence in Public Service Student Award.

Using her personal experiences, White wrote her thesis about the importance of perseverance, resourcefulness and self-control in early childhood. Research shows these non-academic skills are just as important as traditional testing subjects.

"At Tulane, I didn't just stay in the classroom and learn," White says. "I got out and designed and managed projects. That's what I do in my job now."

At Ashoka, White travels the country searching for new elementary schools to feature in the Ashoka Changemaker Schools Network. She manages 10 network schools that excel in teaching empathy, teamwork and problem solving.

White recently reflected on her Tulane experiences during a visit to campus in April. She was invited to speak to two introductory social entrepreneurship classes about post-Tulane career opportunities. 

"I feel really lucky to have gone here," White says. "There are so many opportunities for undergraduates to add this sort of perspective to their education."

Mary Sparacello is a writer in the Office of Development.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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