Santa Clara University

Be the change: The SCU New Orleans Immersion

Edited by Elizabeth Kelley Gillogly '93

“I’ll never forget the things I saw here, the people I met, the impact we made,” wrote SCU senior Erin Burns, who with 12 other SCU students went to New Orleans in January to help with hurricane relief efforts. “I hope more people can be ignited with our same passion and devotion to rebuild New Orleans,” she added.

Accompanied by Michael Colyer, assistant director of SCU’s Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, the students worked with Catholic Charities of New Orleans to help tear down homes that were destroyed during Katrina and the flooding that followed.

To help share this compelling story, Santa Clara Magazine has gathered first-person stories, photos, memories, and reflections from those who made the trip.

Photos: courtesy of Michael Colyer

Christina Tazza


Hard labor: A reflection by Cristina Marie Tazza, SCU sophomore communications and Italian Studies major from Allendale N.J., and Santa Clara Community Action Program Julian St. Inn Coordinator.

Michael Colyer


“Where is everyone?” Michael Colyer, assistant director of SCU's Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, shares what most surprised him about the trip.

Pat Semansky


On rebuilding: A gallery of photos and a reflection by SCU senior Patrick Semansky, photographer for The Santa Clara, SCU’s student-run newspaper.

Erin Burns


Spreading the fire: Journal entries and a reflection by Erin Burns, a senior combined sciences major from St. Louis, Mo. In April, a letter Burns wrote was featured in USA Today.

Anna Thorburn


Be the change: A reflection by Anna Thorburn, SCU senior from Turlock, Calif.

Sarah Attwood


Local injustice: A reflection by Sarah Attwood, SCU junior from Phoenix.

Caroline Mooser


Helping the Big Easy: A reflection by Caroline Mooser, SCU freshman from Baltimore, Md.

Alex Goldberg


The eye of the hurricane: A reflection by Alexandra Goldberg, SCU senior from Littleton, Colo.

James Servino


Solidarity: A reflection by James Servino, SCU junior from Artesia, Calif.

Anna Kolhede

Resurrected: A reflection by Anna Kolhede, SCU senior from Oakland, Calif.

Annie Thomas

Reflections on New Orleans by Annie Thomas



The Kolvenbach Solidarity Program, sponsored by SCU’s Ignatian Center for Jesuit Education, sponsors short-term immersion experiences for faculty, staff, students, and alumni to develop relationships of solidarity with the poor and marginalized. Click here for general information on the programs.

Would you like to help in New Orleans? The Kolvenbach Solidarity Program is sponsoring an alumni immersion trip to New Orleans in December. There are approximately 15 spots available, and the cost is estimated to be $400 per person. For more information, visit the web site.