After four years as a close-knit group, the inaugural class of Newcomb Scholars has graduated. Chosen during their first year at Tulane University, these 20 women undergraduates formed an elite cohort, bonding inside and outside the classroom.
Charlotte Maheu Vail presents a stole to Alexandra Yarost recognizing her as a Newcomb Scholar at a ceremony during Commencement Week. Yarost received a bachelor of science degree in economics and environmental studies with a focus on energy economics. (Photo by Cheryl Gerber)
They took one academic course together each year and developed their own traditions celebrating their connection with the historic Newcomb College, such as a Big Sis/Little Sis Scholar pinning ceremony.
Charlotte Maheu Vail, associate director of the Newcomb College Institute, has facilitated the Newcomb Scholars program since its inception. “The program exemplifies intellectual curiosity, confident leadership and service to the community," she says. "In their attempts to find other smart, creative undergraduate women with whom they can form strong and long-lasting connections, Newcomb Scholars have demonstrated that such a community is not only possible but is an integral part of the soul of a leading research university
In just four years, interest in the program has skyrocketed among undergraduate women at Tulane, and the process becomes more competitive each year. During the fall 2012 semester, more than 120 women applied for the 20 available positions in the class of 2016.
In addition to their coursework and service-learning requirements, Newcomb Scholars conduct research projects in their fourth year, and as demonstrated by the diversity of their independent research projects, they have pursued scholarly and creative work across a variety of academic disciplines.
Their recent projects include an analysis of microfinance in Brazil, a study on the relationship between sexism and sexual violence, and a survey on college students’ knowledge and attitudes about HPV infection.
In April, the senior Newcomb Scholars presented their research to the Tulane community at a research symposium. Later this year, some of their best work will be available in a Newcomb Scholars’ edited digital journal, Case Studies on Women, Gender and Feminism
Aidan Smith is external affairs officer for the Newcomb College Institute.