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Ted Buchanan

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 Tulane Empowers

Let us count the ways you empower
Every day, members of the Tulane community endeavor to make the world a better place. Are you working to make a difference in your community? We want to hear from you.
 
The Insider: Generosity reigns in toy drive
The Tulane Staff Advisory Council ups the ante in its annual toy drive for CASA.
 
Care in the line of fire
Trauma expert Dr. Norman McSwain led a course in combat casualty training for doctors and medics from 10 Latin American countries.
 
Cuts in benefits, services are unfair to women
“Women need jobs, not cuts,” declares National Organization for Women president Terry O’Neill, a Tulane law alumna.
 
Art Looks Through Water
A Studio in the Woods awards residencies to five artists who will offer different perspectives on water.
 
Students Work on City’s Health Disparities
Eight graduate students in new class of Albert Schweitzer Fellows will reach out to help needy people in New Orleans.

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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