Newhouse created Lorraine Branham Scholarship. None of the scholars are Black women.

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The first cohort of Branham Scholars entered the Newhouse School of Public Communications this fall, with eight recipients from a wide range of backgrounds. In particular, black women are missing from the group.

The scholarship is intended to recruit students from socioeconomically disadvantaged and underrepresented populations, according to a Newhouse press releaseand give them the opportunity to attend Newhouse “debt free.” The scholarship will be awarded to a maximum of 10 students each fall.

The absence of black women received review on social media because the scholarship’s namesake, former Newhouse dean Lorraine E. Branham, was a black woman.

Payton Campbell, who graduated from Newhouse’s graphic design program in 2021 and was the chapter president of the SU National Association of Black Journalists, said that in the absence of Branham and with few black female models left in the school, Newhouse has to try harder to make black women feel represented. She said she was one of the few black students in her major when she graduated in May.


Branham became dean in 2008 after working in the newspaper industry for about 25 years, and was determined to diversify the school. in his role. Branham died in 2019 of uterine cancer.

Campbell said she remembered finishing her senior year of high school and interning at the Houston Chronicle in Texas in the spring of 2017. She had just received her waitlist notification from Newhouse. Her editor called Branham to advocate for Campbell, and three weeks later she was accepted.

Branham was instrumental in Campbell’s ability to attend SU. She said this connection to Branham gave her the strength and encouragement to get involved with the Newhouse community.

“(Branham) was the reason I was so involved in Newhouse … even after she passed away because I knew she just wanted to continue her legacy in any way that she could,” Campbell said. “I wanted to show and prove that students of color belong to Newhouse regardless of whether or not we have the best test scores … we have stories to tell and our place in this school is as deserved as anyone else’s.”

Branham’s passion for influencing students, especially students of color, was well known not only among students, but also among Newhouse faculty and staff.

Amy Falkner, the senior associate dean for academic affairs at Newhouse, served as interim dean following Branham’s death in 2019. Falkner said the recently established scholarship in Branham’s memory aims to motivate students in a similar way. to how Branham motivated them herself.

“The students who came to see Lorraine or came here because of (who) Lorriane was. Because she was nurturing in a way to motivate students, especially students from underrepresented groups. But also don’t be ashamed to start a fire under your butt if you weren’t doing what you should be doing and seizing incredible opportunities, ”Falkner said. “It’s an incredible opportunity for essentially underrepresented groups of students.”

Claire Ceccoli is one of this year’s Branham Scholars. The public relations freshman said the scholarship made a difference for her and made her feel like Newhouse wanted her. Ceccoli, who is a white woman, said she understands the criticism surrounding the scholarship, but feels she can still enact change thanks to the scholarship.

“I am aware that I am not part of a minority group,” Ceccoli said. “Yes, it was not given to a black woman, and I am not part of that group. But the scholarship is still making a change in my life because it is inspiring me to make changes and follow in the dean’s footsteps. “

Falkner said that while no black women received the scholarship, that doesn’t mean they didn’t offer it to black women.

“Sometimes people take the scholarship, sometimes they go somewhere else,” Falkner said.

Campbell said some black women may not have come to Newhouse due to lack of school membership.

“It’s hard being a black woman in Newhouse. It’s hard to be in a space where you don’t really understand and you don’t feel very welcome or valued, ”Campbell said. “It really doesn’t surprise me that black women don’t want to come to Newhouse.”

It really doesn’t surprise me that black women don’t want to come to Newhouse

Payton Campbell, Newhouse Alumnus

After working in the newspaper business with predominantly white co-workers, Branham understood the sentiment of underrepresentation, Falkner said.

Branham’s ability to rise through the ranks as a woman of color is what she was always trying to show off to students, Falkner added.

“How do you work and succeed in a place where, (being in the minority), that is your situation?” Dean Falkner said. “This is what he was so passionate about but he was also exceptionally talented. She did it, she lived it. She always tried to inspire students to do the same, and that’s what this legacy is about and what this scholarship is about. Giving people a chance. ”


Contact Shantel: [email protected] | @ shantelguzman2

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