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In Memoriam

Classmates and Mentors Remember Honors Alumna Cynthia "CC" DuBois

It is with great sadness that the Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College mourns the passing of Dr. Cynthia “CC” DuBois on January 2, 2018. An Ogden Honors College alumna, Truman Scholar and Northwestern University doctoral graduate, DuBois’ academic and professional life is prolific, the stuff of incredible success stories.

DuBois’ seemingly inexhaustible acts of service, leadership and scholarship make the true scope of her legacy difficult to measure. When asked what they remember about DuBois, former Honors College classmates, professors and mentors eloquently and poignantly describe a young woman who was, before all else, extraordinary.

Karli Boggs, an Honors College alumna, was roommates with CC in East Laville Honors House her freshman year. They were best friends.

“CC was a true ‘renaissance’ woman,” Boggs said. “Her areas of interest included music, foreign policy, sports, and rodeo – to name a few.  She mastered all areas with passion and grace. Her awards and accolades impressed many but her humor and humility made her memorable to all. We are all better for having her in our lives.  We should all strive to emulate her example of excellence.”

Christopher Odinet, Horatio C. Thompson Assistant Professor of Law at Southern University Law Center and LSU alumnus, remembers CC as a “thoughtful and kind” individual.

"CC and I worked together for four years while in Student Government at LSU,” he recalls. “She had a way of gently challenging others to think more critically about issues. It's no surprise that after college she excelled in every single endeavor she undertook. CC was, in short, a remarkable person."

Assistant Professor of Developmental Psychology at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center Dr. Amanda Staiano — also an Honors alumna — remembers CC as the epitome of what an Honors student could be when her potential is actualized. 

“CC was the exemplar of an Ogden Honors College graduate — an articulate, passionate scholar of social justice who brought her LSU pedigree to international acclaim.”

Dr. Drew Lamonica Arms, Director of Fellowship Advising at the Ogden Honors College, worked closely with DuBois on various applications for scholarships and awards.

“CC embodied the Truman Scholars’ “change agent” long before she became a Truman Scholar,” Arms remembers. “CC was never seeking accolades; she was reaching for opportunities. As her advisor, I helped her craft her achievements into scholarship responses, but CC ‘walked the walk’ and inspired me with not only what she did but how AND WHY she did it: with the drive, determination and know-how to improve things. And she did it all with a modesty I have never seen duplicated.”

DuBois was raised in Ponchatoula, La., the daughter of Bruce, a horse trainer, and Alice, an educator. From a young age, DuBois grew up around horses on her father’s ranch, eventually going on to be named the American Quarter Horse Youth Association world champion calf roper in 2004. She attended Ponchatoula High School where she served as state reporter for the Louisiana FFA Association, president and vice-president of the Ponchatoula High FFA Chapter, a student council representative, and National Honors Society member. DuBois was admitted to Louisiana State University and the Louisiana State University Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College in 2003.

At LSU DuBois rapidly distinguished herself as a scholar and leader: she was a member of Leadership LSU, served on the Agriculture Student Association, was an initiate of the Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa honors societies, and founded the Americans for Informed Democracy Chapter at LSU. An active University Senator of the LSU Student Government Association, she served on various committees and received recognition for her dedication to student life and academic affairs. Her sophomore year she testified to the Louisiana House of Representatives Committee on Education on the importance of the TOPS scholarship program. 

Through the Ogden Honors College she received the LSU Honors College Erich Sternberg Memorial Award for academic excellence and breadth of study given to one exceptional student annually. She also won the Outstanding Freshman of the College of Agriculture and the Louisiana State University Outstanding Student award during both her sophomore and junior years. She received the June Martin and Walter Rudd Outstanding Honors Thesis Award for her work on “Understanding Louisiana Patent Production and the Role of Knowledge Stocks on Economic Growth.”

DuBois’ commitment to her community through far-reaching service initiatives and involvement informed her social justice focus after graduation. She participated in a National FFA Leadership Continuum Development Task Force, planned and participated in service projects for Generations Hospice, and served as campus coordinator for Project Geaux and MTV Rock the Vote Street Teams. While at LSU she also interned with the U.S. International Trade Commission in the Office of Industries, Agriculture and Fisheries Division.

In 2006, DuBois received the highly competitive Harry S. Truman Scholarship, which provides financial resources and support for students who want to go to graduate school and eventually work in the public policy sphere. Part of her Truman application detailed her founding of the “We’ve Got Your Back” initiative, an effort to supply and deliver fully-loaded backpacks to displaced Louisiana schoolchildren in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The drive eventually yielded 46,000 backpacks of school supplies.   DuBois remained actively involved with the Truman Scholars’ organization until her passing.

These actions, awards and volunteer commitments set DuBois apart from her peers, eventually earning her a spot on the prestigious USA Today All-USA College Academic Team, a group of undergraduates honored for academic achievements. Nominated by Ogden Honors College Dean Nancy Clark, DuBois was chosen from over 600 nominees from universities across the country. She graduated summa cum laude from LSU with college honors in 2007 with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Agribusiness.

DuBois received her MPP from the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago in 2010, graduating with honors. She served as both the founder and president of the Harris Alumni Council. Before attending graduate school at Harris, she interned with U.S. Department of Agriculture at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow researching and preparing trade policy and agricultural economic reports for Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and Georgia. She also served as a business development specialist for Louisiana Economic Development and interned with the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Upon graduation, DuBois spent two years working for the American Institutes for Research (AIR) on an education policy project as a research associate before attending the doctoral program in Human Development and Social Policy at Northwestern University. In 2016, she received the Northwestern University Presidential Fellowship, the most prestigious fellowship awarded to graduate students by Northwestern University.

DuBois spent her doctoral work focusing on labor economics, particularly how racial consciousness and policy influence social hierarchy. This past fall she completed her Ph.D., with the first chapter of her dissertation, “The Impact of ‘Soft’ Affirmative Action Policies on Minority Hiring in Executive Leadership: The Case of the NFL's Rooney Rule," published in the American Law & Economics Review in 2016. Her research explores the effects of “hard” and “soft” affirmative action policies across athletics and education. DuBois presented the findings of her research on the Rooney Rule, which requires the NFL to interview minority candidates, at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in 2017.

DuBois’ work also enjoys mentions in popular publications – a testament to the far-reaching, real-world implications of her research. Her new working paper, “The Effect of Court-Ordered Hiring Guidelines on Teacher Composition and Student Achievement” was discussed extensively in The Atlantic article “A Root Cause of Teacher Diversity Problems” in January 2018. Her work appears in the Brookings Institute, FiveThirtyEight and the Oxford University Press Blog.

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As part of her Truman Scholarship application, DuBois recalled one of the most memorable donations among the thousands of backpacks received: this backpack contained a watch with a woman’s note explaining that the watch was a gift from her husband’s fire unit after his death in the Twin Towers on September 11. According to the note, the woman wanted the recipient of the backpack to have the watch as a reminder that, “while inexplicable things may happen to us, our humanities are inextricably intertwined.”

LSU Political Science Professor Kevin V. Mulcahy echoes this sentiment. His assessment of DuBois captures the enduring impression she left on the world. DuBois was Mulcahy’s research assistant starting in 2007, and he remembers her well.

“She was one of those extraordinary young people who make an indelible mark on one’s intellectual and moral consciousness,” he said. “Before her death, CC sent me her Outstanding Sophomore Plaque of 2007. When I see it on my desk, I do not see it as a memento mori, but as a memento vitae: a remembrance not of death, but of the enduring life of the human spirit.”

 

A reception in CC’s honor is being organized in Baton Rouge by her friends and mentors. It will take place on February 17 at the French House from 2-4 PM.  An Honors College scholarship fund in CC’s name has been established with the LSU Foundation.  For more information, or to make a donation, see The LSU Foundation.