Aaliyah Stewart is a Junior majoring in Philosophy and Psychology at Tulane University. Aaliyah helped lead a campus-wide student movement to deepen service-learning at Tulane, pushing for a more critical and accountable approach. Aaliyah hit the ground running in her first year as a graduate of the inaugural class of CACTUS Academy, a First Year social justice leadership program. Through her first year, she worked closely with the University Student Government and the Center for Public Service to promote knowledge around LGBTQIA issues on campus. Aaliyah helped launch the Center for Public Service's "Youth Advisory Council" to bring more youth voice into our youth and school-based service-learning partnerships. Additionally, Aaliyah is conducting research with the Center for Academic Equity to look at best practices to incentive equity, inclusion and engagement work among faculty on campus. Aaliyah currently serves as a Public Service Fellow and Service Learning Assistant, advocating for campus-wide training and reflections which address systemic oppression, and which give students tools to engage the New Orleans community with cultural humility.
I initially started my service journey by volunteering with my high-school and working with my local community center in Patterson, LA to tutoring and mentor youth from my community. Although I was active in service in my community, I did not truly begin to understand actual service until my first year at Tulane University. Through my service-learning requirement, I was thrown into a community that I had little knowledge about. From there, I began to learn about the people in the New Orleans community and what their experiences were like with volunteer and service groups. Since the feedback I received was very critical, I dedicated my freshman year to learning what people from the community actually wanted and needed, and how I could be an ally to the community. Since then, I have worked as a research assistant for the Choice Foundation in the neighborhood where I did my first service-learning project. I currently work with Tulane students to prepare them to enter New Orleans communities in a way that centers the actual needs of the community. Besides working with students, I am currently researching faculty engagement in service-learning as a method to increase community impact and intentional service in New Orleans communities.