Commencement 2023 - Student Spotlight: Khira Hickbottom

Khira Hickbottom, Tulane Graduate 2023

Khira Hickbottom is the class poet for the School of Liberal Arts 2023 Commencement. She is an English and Africana Studies double major from Fort Wayne, Indiana who is interested in the intersection of literary studies and diaspora theory and politics. As a senior in high school, she had her sights set on the East Coast, but after nudging from her mother, she visited Tulane and instantly fell in love with New Orleans. Over the course of her time in the School of Liberal Arts, Khira has been a Newcomb Scholar, a research assistant to Dr. Aidan Smith, an intern for the New Orleans Breastfeeding Center and Birthmark Doula Collective, an editorial fellow at Ms. Magazine, a research fellow of the Africana Studies Department and the president of the Pi Chi chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi. Her poem is called Boyhood and touches on the theme of growing up.

After graduation, Khira plans to remain in New Orleans and begin the process of applying for graduate schools in the hope of pursuing a PhD in literature and a career in academia. She would like to give a special thanks to Professor Elisabeth McMahon, Professor Michelle Kohler, Professor Adam McKeown and the faculty and staff of the Newcomb Scholars program for their kind words and continued support during her time at Tulane.


We rode our bikes today for as
long as two wheels could carry
straight through puddles threatening
the sun with the memory of rain
in between pedestrians who
know nothing of us other than
the sound of our laughter
who we know nothing of
other than what their eyes offer

We rode our bikes today until
my chain broke, most of the time
in good silence staring at the trees
who will see our deaths and one another’s
muddied backs, and there was no time for
helmets or dealing in ruses of safety
only flirting with cars hands loose
of handlebars to get as close as
possible to melting into wind

We rode our bikes today, and even
when i’ve known you one year i
saw you in your boyhood
swerving from road to river
feet free of pedals, child in
six foot frame, not yet burdened
by the thought of tomorrow
i’ll go to the shop soon, get another
glimpse of you in youth