White House names Dillard student an ‘All-Star’
10th March 2014 · 0 Comments
By Lianna Patch
Aspiring political servant Nicole Tinson hopes to enact social change.
Nicole Tinson, a senior political science student at Dillard University, has been named a 2014 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) All-Star by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Originally established by the executive orders of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, the White House Initiative on HBCUs was created to help overcome the effects of discrimination against African Americans, and strengthen historically Black institutions of higher learning. There are 105 recognized HBCUs in the country, which enroll more than 300,000 students.
Alongside 74 other All-Stars nationwide, Tinson was selected from a pool of applicants almost 500 strong. Criteria for selection included community service and leadership involvement, as well as submission of a transcript, essay, resume and recommendation.
Tinson was born and raised in south central Los Angeles, where community service was the backbone of her upbringing. “I grew up in the church, and for as long as I remember, I’ve always done community service,” she said. Those endeavors included feeding the homeless, going on mission trips to Jamaica and Mexico, and other service projects.
“When I got older, I was able to start tutoring and mentoring, so it’s something that’s just naturally in me to do,” Tinson said. She decided to enroll at Dillard because she wanted to attend a historically Black school, and because her godmother lives and works in New Orleans.
During her four years at Dillard, Tinson has excelled academically as well as socially, taking on leadership roles that include participation in the Congressional Black Caucus’ Emerging Leaders program last spring. Each year, the demanding program brings a small number of college students hailing from across the country to Washington, D.C., for internships at federal agencies, nonprofits, and on Capitol Hill. Students also complete a semester of coursework at George Washington University. Tinson’s favorite part of participating in the Emerging Leaders program was the opportunity to network with her peers.
Tinson also founded an NAACP chapter on Dillard’s campus. She has hosted events and forums promoting social change across a number of student organizations, including serving as keynote speaker for a “Take Back The Night” event at Dillard. The Take Back The Night organization focuses on preventing sexual assault and educating audiences about sexual and domestic violence.
“I feel it’s important to encourage and empower students to speak up and speak out, and this particular event works to encourage young women to take action,” Tinson said.
In 2013, Tinson received the 2013 Helping Others Pursue Education (HOPE) scholarship, and was awarded a fellowship from the Walton-UNCF Education Reform Program.
As senior class president, Tinson sees her role as facilitating a path for students after graduation. “I feel like it’s my job to provide them with as many choices as possible,” she said. Along with arranging for professional development resources to be made available to fellow students, she is helping organize “last-minute” bonding activities for graduating seniors.
Tinson plans to run for public office in the future. “Oftentimes, people think my longtime goal is to become the first African-American woman president,” she said. Though she admires Barack Obama for his rise from community organizer to state senator to President of the United States, Tinson does not see herself following quite the same trajectory.
“My end and longtime goal is to become the Speaker of the House [of Representatives],” Tinson explained. “In the meantime, I plan on doing a lot of community organizing and running for municipal government.”
This is another point where Tinson’s work as senior class president and her career goals coincide. In conjunction with Dillard’s office of academic affairs, she and other student organizers have mounted a “huge campaign” to bring President Obama to New Orleans this spring to speak at their commencement.
Currently, Tinson is applying to graduate school for public policy. Columbia University in New York is among her top choices. After receiving her master’s in public policy, she also plans to earn a juris doctorate.
As an HBCU All-Star, Tinson is open to any and all challenges the distinction may offer. “Quite frankly, I look forward to anything that is presented to me,” she said. “I believe I am of service to the White House Initiative on HBCUs and to Dillard University, so whatever is asked of me, I will humbly do.”
This article originally published in the March 10, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.