Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Six weeks into living in New Orleans, and I absolutely love it. I am completely satisfied with my choice of coming to Tulane's M.S. in Pharmacology program. The class size is only 31 which is significantly smaller than some of the other similar programs I applied to and after talking to some of my peers in those programs, Tulane seems to stand out from the rest. Class is very collaborative and we have all quickly become very close with each other. Due to the small size, it's easy to focus in class and you can tell the professors and directors all genuinely want you to succeed. One of the unique parts of this program is the volunteering requirement.

All students are required to complete a set amount of volunteer hours per semester. Tulane is encouraging us to get out of the classroom and library and spend time helping others in our New Orleans community. So far, I have been volunteering at Kipp Leadership Primary, a primary charter school for exceptional young children that is provided tuition free and with an ultimate goal of college preparation. It is such a unique and altruistic concept, and the success of the mission is quite apparent. There are several Kipp academies in my hometown of Houston, Texas and at other cities in Texas, as well. I, along with some of my classmates, have been going every Friday and helping the operations staff with various tasks so that the teachers can focus more of their attention on their students.

However, I also encountered a unique volunteering experience the past weekend, August 27, in Baton Rouge. Baton Rouge was absolutely ravaged by devastating flooding several days ago and it is estimated that over 150,000 homes have been affected to some extent. A handful of classmates and I drove west to Baton Rouge and helped an elderly woman completely gut her house. We ripped up all the tile in her kitchen and pantry, demolished all the dry wall in every room of the house up to three feet off the floor, and helped her move belongings into safe locations. The damage was catastrophic and every yard of every house in the entire neighborhood had debris as well as many domestic possessions like mattresses, furniture, and TV discarded out front. It was a truly heartbreaking thing to witness but it was an honor to be able to help make this old woman's life a little bit easier during this horrible time.

That's it for August. See you next month.


P.S. I've attached a picture of the Baton Rouge neighborhood below. I didn't take one of her own home because it felt somewhat exploitative. And in each blog I'll indicate my volunteer hours per month at the bottom of the page.

Volunteering Hours for August:
KIPP: 6 hrs
Baton Rouge flood aid: 8 hrs

Cumulative Volunteering Hours:
14 hrs