Tulane grad inspired to continue working to benefit underserved small business owners

Over four years, Tarlton Walker made the most of his time at Tulane as a member and leader of numerous student organizations, including the Black Student Union and the Alliance of Black Business Students.

He has also served as a Resident Advisor (RA) for the past two years, supervising 60 undergraduate residents. It was an experience that became an important part of his life at Tulane, he said.

“When you walk around campus, people know you in this position. You don’t really take off the RA hat,” he said. “You put a lot of time and effort into it. You often don’t know who you are impacting through this work.

Walker, in part, was inspired to become an RA by his father, who was an RA at UC Berkley. He considers it one of his many important experiences at Tulane. Joining Alpha Phi Alpha this spring semester is another.

“I know it will always be a part of my life,” he said.

This month, Walker will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in finance from the AB Freeman School of Business. The plan for now is to work for the next three to five years and then return to school to get a master’s degree. Although his plans aren’t set in stone, Walker wants to work in the private equity investment space with a focus on supporting Black and brown business owners in underserved areas. He pointed out that in low-income communities, basic amenities like grocery stores can be difficult to find.

“It’s work I want to be involved in,” he said.

A Los Angeles native, Walker was selected as a POSSE scholar to attend Tulane. Students who exemplify potential for leadership and academic excellence are recruited by the POSSE Foundation to attend four-year colleges and universities. Tulane partners with the foundation and welcomes a new group of students or “posse” from New Orleans and Los Angeles each academic year. He said the organization has been very important to him, as he has found support from his cohort and mentors.

“The POSSE community has become a lifeline for my community. All POSSE members collectively care for each other and are all extremely active and connected to each other,” he said.

He also said his experience working at the Lavin-Bernick University Life Center was another form of support, allowing him to find community among his colleagues.

Walker comes from a family where education was highly valued. His grandmother was a kindergarten teacher and he has several aunts who also worked in schools. The plan was always to go to college and graduate in four years, he said.

“I am the fourth generation to attend college. Being in school and graduating is an ode to my family,” he said.