We are pleased to announce the Cowen Scholars for the upcoming school year have been selected! Nine Tulane graduate students were chosen for the internship program, after they successfully completed a rigorous application process. These students will serve as AdvanceNOLA site coordinators and special project managers at our partner high schools in the 2012-2013 academic year, with the goal of establishing college-readiness skills and a culture of high achievement within each school. Our student-scholars will engage in activities that connect Tulane to its surrounding community in meaningful and tangible ways, such as supporting the implementation of Advanced Placement courses; creating or maintaining a career and college room; participating in informational college nights for students and families; and providing college application assistance to high school students.  More information about the 2012-2013 Cowen Scholars cohort follows.

Faith Perdue is a second year student at Tulane Law School and will work this year at KIPP Renaissance High School. Faith is originally from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and she obtained a Masters degree in Special Education with a concentration in Gifted Education from the University of Alabama. During her graduate courses and time teaching in the gifted classroom, Faith gained a passion for ensuring all children receive the legal rights and accommodations due to them in our school systems. Faith recently interned with the General Counsel for the Alabama State Board of Education. She is very excited to have the opportunity to both pursue her legal studies and work hands on in the high school classroom this year.


Samantha Hoyt is a Ph.D. candidate at the Payson Center for International Development and will be placed at Warren Easton Charter High School.  Her area of interest is improving student access to quality education in Africa. Samantha holds a Masters in International Training and Education from American University and is a certified Teacher of English to Students of Other Languages instructor. She has extensive experience as a math and ESL tutor and teacher, as well as experience evaluating education programming in Bosnia and Mozambique. Samantha is excited to serve AdvanceNOLA as a resource for students in creating the futures they want for themselves.


NaSheena Porter is a third-year law student who will work at New Orleans Charter Science and Math Academy. She is originally from Linden, NJ. She attended Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, CT and received her B.S. in History and Policy from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.  After college NaSheena worked for NJ SEEDS, an educational non-profit, where she served as an Admissions and Program Officer helping identify high achieving but low income students receive scholarships to prestigious preparatory schools.  Continuing her passion for helping students gain an education she accepted a position at Chatham University, a women’s college in Pittsburgh, PA.  She served as the Assistant Director of Regional Admissions, where she was in charge of recruiting and evaluating students from her territory until she began law school.  NaSheena is interested in both Educational Law and Criminal Law.  She enrolled in the Education Law & Policy Seminar where she wrote a 30 page paper analyzing how courts would likely rule if the holding of Board of Education v. Pico was extended to school board actions in First Amendment violation allegations.  NaSheena spent the summer after her first year of law school interning with the Federal Public Defenders and this past summer interning with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office in Houston, TX and clerking at the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission in Jefferson City.  In addition to being a scholar, she will serve as a student attorney in the Criminal Litigation Clinic this school year.

Brittni Duhon is a 4+1 Master of English student who is also earning teacher certification in Secondary Education (grades 6-12) through Tulane’s Teacher Preparation and Certification Program. She will work at New Orleans Charter Math and Science High School (“Sci High”), building upon her previous experience there as an in-classroom tutor and teaching assistant. During the past three years, she has worked extensively with students as a tutor and teaching assistant in various New Orleans schools, not only Sci High but also Benjamin Banneker, Sophie B. Wright, and Lusher High. In her role as conference chair of the Newcomb Leadership Conference for Middle School Girls, a position she held while an undergraduate senior at Tulane, she developed a technology-themed conference to get middle school girls excited about college and pursuing careers in the STEM fields. Brittni is passionate about teaching and mentoring students and is dedicated to increasing their college readiness and access to post-secondary educational opportunities.

Brian Cox is a third-year Law student focusing on education policy and constitutional law. For the 2012-2013 school year, Brian will be placed at Edna Karr High School. He completed his undergraduate work in History and Economics at Yale University, graduating in 2008. After working for an economic consulting firm for two years, he decided to make a transition back to his native state to study at Tulane. One of the main reasons Brian chose to attend Tulane was because of the rapidly evolving education environment in New Orleans. Currently, Brian is writing an article examining Governor Jindal’s new private school voucher initiative. Brian’s goals at Edna Karr this year will be to change the culture of success in education and to stress the importance of improving Louisiana’s public education system.

Val M. Reagon is a Master of Public Health student concentrating in Maternal and Child Health at Tulane University.  She will work at O. Perry Walker High School as a Cowen Scholar.  She brings a wealth of real world experience, diverse background, and commitment to teenagers in the New Orleans area via involvement as a mentor to inner city teens through the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and Girls Hope/Boys Hope.  Her devotion to the community is diverse and extensive ranging from mentoring, civic engagement, and health initiatives.  Most recently, she has been active in Maternal Child Health/AIDS projects.  She believes that through proper teaching, outreach, engagement, dedication, and education a child becomes a productive member of society and a resource to provide the same for future generations.  Val received a Bachelors degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL and a Master of Liberal Arts degree from Tulane University.

Jamila Jeffrey is a second-year Master of Public Health student studying Health Systems Management and Community Health Sciences who will work at Algiers Technology Academy. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Michigan in 2010 before moving to New Orleans. As a Detroit native, her dedication to helping adolescents succeed stems from her own roots in an under served city and school system. In the past, she has devoted time to helping youth excel in school and progress to post-secondary education through ACT preparation classes, academic advising, tutoring, and mentoring. She will serve as program coordinator at Algiers Technology Academy, continuing to positively impact youth who are preparing for college.

Amanda Austin is a third year law student originally from San Diego, California who will be working at Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School . Amanda is an alumna of Spelman College where she majored in psychology. After college, she joined Teach for America where she taught two years in the Mississippi Delta. During her time as a teacher, Amanda became uniquely aware of not only the academic but also socioeconomic challenges that exited within both her classroom and her community. Since teaching Amanda has continued to work in fields where she can be of assistance to others and most recently has served as an intern for Southeast Louisiana Legal Services located in New Orleans and the Office of the Public Defender in San Diego. With the opportunity to serve as a Cowen Scholar, Amanda is most excited about the opportunity to return to the classroom and support both students and teachers in reaching great academic goals.

Caitlin Manning-Riley, MSW Candidate, MPH Candidate at Tulane University, will be evaluating the effectiveness of the Cowen Scholars program. She has been working in the New Orleans Public School system in some capacity since she moved here in 2004. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a concentration in child psychology at Tulane University. She obtained a Louisiana Teaching Certificate at the Elementary level through TeachNOLA and taught middle school math and special education in New Orleans. Additionally, she holds certification for teaching English as a foreign language, allowing her to teach high school English in Ecuador. Ms. Manning-Riley is an intern at Louisiana Public Health Institute. She is working with a team studying the effectiveness of a sexual health education intervention for female adolescents. Additionally, she is part of a team conducting a pilot evaluation of a resilience-enhancing curriculum for teachers working with traumatized youth. She hopes pursue a career building connections between organizations in mental health, health, and education.


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