Go West, Young Man

Keairez Coleman portrait
Keairez Coleman/Photo: Hannah Benet

Xavier University of Louisiana visiting scholar Keairez Coleman could serve as prototype for a new partnership meant to diversify student body.

BY YASMINE PEZESHKPOUR MCM ’16

IN SOME WAYS KEAIREZ COLEMAN IS A PIONEER, blazing what could become a well-worn trail between Xavier University of Louisiana and the University of Southern California.

The visiting scholar from XULA, a historically black college in New Orleans, is at the division this summer as part of the McNair Scholars Program, a government initiative meant to increase the number of graduate students from traditionally underrepresented populations. But the visit represents a prototype for a program the division aims to begin to better diversify its student body.

“We’re looking for creative, innovative ways to bring greater diversity to physical therapy,” says PTMLA Faculty Adviser and XULA alumnus Terry Richardson II DPT ’14. “We’re the number one physical therapy program in the country, and Xavier is the number one school for placing African-Americans in health professions schools, so it seemed like a natural partnership.”

Like Coleman, future XULA visiting scholars would audit classes as well as shadow researchers, physical therapists and physical therapy students to better understand physical therapy education.

Promising XULA scholars could then apply for early acceptance at the division. While the details are still being worked out, Richardson hopes to finalize the USC-XULA partnership later this fall.

In the meantime, Coleman, a track-and-field athlete majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry, is excited about the opportunities that lay ahead for him during his 8-week visit to USC.

“I feel that this experience will be a critical point in my career journey,” Coleman says. “I hope to gain as much knowledge as possible and use this experience as inspiration for future endeavors.”