January 17, 2006
First-year Tulane student Summer Johnston landed in President Scott Cowen's office on her first day back at campus.
She got a hero's welcome. Johnston turned in a check for nearly $30,000 from a Long Island, N.Y., fundraiser she organized along with several friends.
When she returned home to New York last August, fleeing the wrath of Hurricane Katrina, Johnston quickly connected with other displaced Tulane students to organize the "Taste of New Orleans" event on Nov. 10. Her father, an executive at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale, offered her and her friends a ballroom to "do whatever they wanted," Johnston says.
With the help of other first-year Tulane students Samantha Sanacore and Jenna Klebanoff, she planned the event to support the Newcomb Children's Center. It included a silent auction, a jazz band and New Orleans-style food from nearby restaurants and hotels.
Luann Dozier, vice president for development at Tulane, traveled to New York to attend the event, which drew more than 300 people. "It was absolutely a phenomenal event," said Dozier, who was thrilled to see the donation for the Tulane Rebuilding Fund. Because the gift is designated for the Newcomb Children's Center, it will go toward the costs of renovating and equipping the center.
Johnston and a determined class of first-year students settled into their Tulane University residence hall rooms over the weekend--rooms they abandoned last August in the approach of Hurricane Katrina--and they are more than ready to start a new phase of their lives as Tulanians.
"I know it's been hard for a lot of people, but the whole fall semester I kept saying, 'I can't wait to go back, I can't wait to go back,' " said Nicole Perez, a 19-year-old from Texas who spent the past semester at Southern Methodist University near her home of Rowlett, Texas.
Perez and her roommate flew into New Orleans last Thursday (Jan. 12) on the first day of orientation, ready to reoccupy their room in the brand-new Wall Residential College.
"I'm so excited," Perez said, speaking for many Tulane students who have arrived back at campus to start the spring semester.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org