Senior Spotlight: Kennedy Coleman ’23

Each year, we spotlight our NexPoint Tower Scholar Seniors. We enjoy hearing about their journey through the program and how their perspective on the importance of public policy evolved when combined with their own academic interests. This year, we asked our incoming and current scholars to interview the seniors and were delighted by the conversations captured.

Princess Igwe-Icho ’25 interviewed Kennedy Coleman ’23 to learn more about her time as a NexPoint Tower Scholar and to understand how the program supported and cultivated her interest in becoming a criminal lawyer with the skills of a policymaker.

 A senior graduating in 2023, currently majoring in Political Science and English and minoring in Human Rights and Public Policy and International Affairs, Kennedy hopes to follow her four years at Southern Methodist University (SMU) with law school, so she can practice criminal law.

Describe your experience with the Tower Scholars Program as you have progressed from freshman to senior year.

The Tower Scholars Program has been everything I could have imagined and more. As a result of the program, I’ve been able to make a lot of close friendships that I never expected going into the program. As a result, I have gained a bunch of different perspectives when it comes to different policy issues. Furthermore, the program does a good job making sure you explore different areas of the world to tackle these policy issues head-on. These opportunities, plus travel to D.C., have exposed me to a wide array of individuals who may not look or talk like me. I believe every student should have this kind of exposure when it comes to incorporating your skillset and your professional career.


What are some highs or lows of the program you wish to speak about?

In my opinion, the best part of the program is the senior year internship that my cohort and I just finished. It’s so incredible to see all the work that we’ve been doing over the past three years in the program come into play in the internship that we all completed in the fall. Using what we’ve learned in the classroom and applying it was invigorating, especially as we are thinking about the next chapter of life after SMU. It’s been fun to see everyone spread their wings and grow into who they were meant to be as we’ve progressed in the program. To be completely honest, there are no lows of the program. I think if I could change anything, I would add more quality time among the cohorts. I know that my cohort knows everyone within our own year, and I’m sure the other cohorts know their own peers as well. I would love it if the program were to plan more events/get-togethers in which the upperclassmen hang out with the underclassmen. These would be cool relationships to have as you enter the program and as you finish it.

What has been your favorite event in the program, and how has this event inspired you?

 This is really hard – there were so many good ones – but our D.C. trip junior year inspired me the most. The biggest impact of the trip was the many meetings we attended, where we saw policymaking in action. My peers and I were able to see the differences in policymaking when it comes to lobbying and the influence that policymakers receive as well as use to push their policy agenda. We also were able to go into a congressman’s office and see how the legislative process worked first-hand. The D.C. trip was also inspiring in that we saw many different people working towards a common cause/goal. Even though I wasn’t particularly knowledgeable about the client or the cause when the course started, I realized that I was not the only person trying to do this type of policy work and that there are others working towards this goal with me.

I know we’ve discussed more in terms of memorability, your representation and work you’ve done throughout the program, but can you go more in depth in the studies that have shaped you into the person you are now?

What I’ve learned in the TSP classes has been essential in the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center at SMU where I worked for my senior practicum. Learning about the policy making process and the data that goes into creating the actual policy we want to get on the agenda in our principles of public policy (the first class Tower Scholars are required to take) before we transitioned to a more honed-in perspective of global policymaking (held in our second semester) is a good example of how the classes provided by the Tower Scholars Program have shaped me into the person I am now. In the internship last semester, I researched the essentials that go into criminal justice and criminal procedures, learned about the judicial hearings, and used that research to create policy recommendations and influence the policymakers. We did this both through lobbying and the community events we hosted.

Any last thoughts? 

My advice for you and first-year Tower Scholars would be to just milk everything you can out of every experience the program gives you. A lot of times, it can seem like we’re pushed to go to different events or programs and even classes that you may feel like you don’t want to attend or to which there’s no purpose. However, I believe that if you find yourself in unexpected rooms, spending time with these high-end professionals, you should put your all into it and gain as much as you can from it. I also want to take a moment to thank the professors and administrators that are part of the program because they really care about the scholars and cheer for their success, which is one of the best things about the program. Professor Newton and Dr. Takeuchi have been instrumental in my transformation throughout the program.