"My time at Tulane changed my life in ways I never imagined. From the first time I set foot on the uptown campus as a prospective student in 1998, until now, as I work with graduate students in Tulane’s Energy Institute, I cherish every moment and experience my Tulane education has afforded me.”
- Greg Thurnher, E'02, MBA'07
I’m certain that neither my childhood in Los Angeles nor my high school years in Phoenix could have prepared me for the surprises that waited for me in New Orleans. However, trading the sandy desert and beach for the bayou gave me a perspective of New Orleans that is only obtained by the most passionate transients and fun-seekers. Students at Tulane, lifelong residents and those who truly immersed themselves in New Orleans learn that this is one of the most even-keeled cities in the world. “Balance” is not a word that comes to mind during Carnival season or Jazz Fest – however, those who remain after the iconic celebrations hibernate for a year know how much more soul is encompassed in New Orleans.
Balance in New Orleans, to me, is a give-and-take relationship. Give – the best years of your life to New Orleans and Tulane, and take away a world-class education coupled with a network spanning the globe. Take – part in each of the unique neighborhoods, add your own signature to the culture, but give all of your talents to the betterment of our community. This is a city where your impact is defined by your involvement. Being here is part of the rebuilding effort –whether you rebuild a ravaged home with the St. Bernard Project or devour a po-boy at the Oak Steet Po-Boy Fest (yes, there is a festival for sandwiches now, too). If it has been days or decades since your last visit, now is a great time to restore our treasured memories of this beloved city.
I can’t imagine a New Orleans without Tulane nor a Tulane without New Orleans. Perhaps that’s just it – the symbiotic relationship between a city and an academic institution, for me, created a collegiate experience that few of my non-Tulanian friends have enjoyed. It’s a campus without borders. In a physical sense, I suppose once you’ve crossed the street car tracks (perhaps on a jog through Audubon Park to the river, or Fly?) you’ve crossed Tulane’s formal boundaries. However, in a more temporal sense – Only at Tulane is the identity obtained from living in New Orleans and learning at Tulane – uptown or downtown, Tilton or Trading Center, Mid City or Marigny.
Reunion provides us with an opportunity to unite across generations and share our best times in New Orleans. For those of us who arrived in 1998, here is what I recall as unique:
1. Scott Cowen arrived with us at Tulane in 1998 – and is still at it making Tulane and New Orleans a special place.
2. Hurricane – Tropical Storm – False Alarm – Flood Parties in the Quad – Georges
3. 13-0 Tulane Green Wave football. Tommy Bowden and Rich Rodriguez.
4. Super Bowl XXXVI – The last Super Bowl played in New Orleans – our senior year
5. One of the last classes to know that Tulane once had an observatory
6. One of the first classes to use Willow, one of the last classes to use Zemurray and Doris
7. One of the first classes to know Ray Nagin as the mayor of New Orleans
8. One of the last classes to know Audubon Tavern as a Boot Alternative – ATII’s
9. One of the most diverse classes
10. One of many to surpass expectations for fundraising this fall!
"A Tulane education is rooted in a commitment to academic excellence, community service, and diversity of thought and experience.”
- Travis Torrence, TC'02
Although I grew up in the suburbs of the Big Easy, the heartbeat of my hometown came alive when I enrolled as a freshman at Tulane. In that moment, my Tulane experience and my life in the “City That Care Forgot” became one and the same.
In classes held in Gibson Hall I learned to appreciate the rumble of streetcars barreling down St. Charles Avenue. As a sophomore, I looked forward to persuading professors to move classes to the oak-tree lined, manicured lawn of Newcomb quad and exploring the depths of the neighborhoods surrounding uptown with friends who participated in service-learning projects. As a junior, I anxiously anticipated email messages from classmates enjoying their Junior Year Abroad. And, as a senior, I looked forward to telephone calls on my request-line from Tulane friends as I worked as a disc-jockey/on-air personality for B97 FM.
Whether I’m reflecting on some of uptown’s most notorious potholes, late night breakfast at Camellia Grill, or dancing the night away on top of pool tables at F&M’s, Grit’s, Phillip’s, the Boot, or Fat Harry’s (just to name a few), it wasn’t until I arrived at Tulane and bonded with our class that the city’s gems began to shine. At that point, Rebirth Brass Band began to play louder, the strawberry lemonade at Jazz Fest tasted sweeter, and my affair with learning in the Crescent City deepened. Although the city and our beloved alma mater were pummeled by Katrina, both have demonstrated resilience and remain culturally rich, which makes me proud to call New Orleans (and Tulane) home.
Whether it’s one more round at The Columns, one more appetizer at Jacques-Imo’s, one last dance at Maple Leaf, or one more stroll past Cudd Hall, I’m anxiously awaiting the opportunity to reconnect with the Class of 2002 at our reunion. Roll Wave Roll!
Alumni & Reunions Weekend, 504-865-5794, 888-265-7576 firstname.lastname@example.org