A native Nashvillian, Newton became interested in education equity as a youth organizing intern at Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC). In partnership with Latino, Kurdish, and Somalian high school and college students, Newton developed and facilitated youth-led groups that focused on multi-ethnic inclusion and youth empowerment. Newton also helped to develop the STUDY Foundation, an organization aimed to provide local minority students with the knowledge, resources, and motivation to pursue higher education. Through these experiences, students' inspirational stories of triumph and despair in pursuit of their educational and career goals have led Newton to learn more about higher education policy and its implementation in Tennessee.
While much of his work examines how education policy fits into comprehensive immigration reform, Newton specifically focuses on how undocumented students overcome individual financial, legal, and socio-emotional barriers that limit their access to higher education. Today, Newton works with students, families, TIRRC staff, university administrators, educators, allies, community partners, and policymakers to create inclusive policies that encourage higher education for all young people. In summer of 2013, Newton worked with Educators for Fair Consideration, an organization in the Bay Area that provides holistic support to undocumented students in their pursuit of college, career, and citizenship. Specifically, Newton surveyed scholarship providers, colleges, college counselors, students, and allies to assess the current and potential financial aid available to undocumented students nationwide. He is excited to have collected such valuable information that will help interested parties understand how they can best support college-bound undocumented students.
On Vanderbilt’s campus, Newton is invested in Manna Project International, a service-oriented organization that connects Vanderbilt students with opportunities to serve and learn both locally and internationally. After participating in an alternative spring break trip to an orphanage in Honduras his freshman year, Newton became the Vice President of Local Initiatives, a position that allowed him to expand the number of Vanderbilt students participating in various projects throughout the Nashville community. Newton also traveled to Quito, Ecuador, in the summer of 2011. He taught English to park rangers at an environmental park so that they could better communicate with English–speaking tourists. Then, with the support of Manna Project International and his peers, Newton organized an alternative spring break trip to Camp Hope in Quito. Camp Hope is an organization that provides education, housing, spiritual discipline, and medical services to orphans with physical and intellectual disabilities as well as typically developing students. He and his teammates did repair work around the facilities and spent time with the students. Newton is excited to continue to serve Manna as a co-president of Vanderbilt's chapter in the 2013-14 academic year.
Looking forward, Newton is excited to continue to collaborate and develop relationships with students in order to create education systems that encourage inclusion, excellence, and unity. Newton feels honored to be a part of the Ingram Scholarship Program community, and he looks forward to working with his peers and mentors as an Ingram Scholar for the rest of his life