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Director DRLA, Dr. Reggie Ferreira, welcomes new students and faculty at Fall 2017 Orientation

I extend my warmest welcome to members of the new DRLA Class! If you are like most folks who have a passion for disaster resilience, I have known, you have waited with simmering impatience between the day you made your decision to attend DRLA and the day when you could begin.  Well, that day has finally arrived, and all of us — faculty members, staff, and other members of the Tulane community — are thrilled to welcome you.

Just as all of you have been eagerly waiting for the day that your DRLA life would begin, we have been waiting with great anticipation for your arrival. I have been director of DRLA now for nearly 6 months and you are the very first class I have the privilege of welcoming to DRLA. For this reason, you will always be special to me.  I will follow your academic progress, and learn what social issues inspire you to action to become change agents. 

Welcome also to the continuing students, we are just excited to have you back at DRLA and look forward to hear about your summer endeavors and future plans as you prepare to graduate soon.

DRLA is entering an exciting new phase, with several World Class faculty, applied and collaborative initiatives, new office space and most importantly our students.

Tulane is at the forefront of resilience research and it is the mission of the university to find ways to strengthen resilience in New Orleans and the rest of the World. Please be ready for several opportunities to enrich your education experience.
The beginning of graduate school marks one of the most important transitions of your lives. Over the next few years, you will learn an incredible amount. You will refine your abilities to think critically and to express your ideas in writing and speech. You will come to understand the complexity of our field of disaster resilience, the importance of leadership, but most importantly understanding the value of well-being and the safety of human life during times of crises. You will learn how to frame a good argument, and how to listen to and appreciate the intellectual views held by others.

Your development will not be confined to academics. You will come to understand how living in a community of peers with ideas, cultures and backgrounds quite different from your own can enrich and broaden your understanding of the world, and help you define the place that you want to take in society.  

I can guarantee you that your time here will fly by — and that the amount of change and growth you see in yourselves will be astonishing.

The theme of responsibility and independence is important here at DRLA. As you know, a hallmark of our University is that we entrust our students with responsibility for their own educations.  Students are given unparalleled freedom to decide their interdisciplinary courses of study and shape their education in creative and innovative ways. In many senses, I would say we are the flagship interdisciplinary graduate program of Tulane, working at finding solutions for making the world a better place.
If you leave DRLA merely having mastered a set of facts, the value of your college education will have a very short shelf life. But, if you leave DRLA having learned how to drive your own intellectual and creative development, the value of your education will be amplified over the course of your life.

Although you are being asked to take responsibility for your own educations, we do not expect you to do this without assistance. Your advisers and professors stand ready to provide guidance.

In the coming weeks, as you get to know New Orleans and Tulane and the people who work here, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on the astounding array of resources that have been marshaled to support your development as responsible and independent human beings.  Use these resources fully and wisely. If you do, I am sure that your experience at DRLA will be even better than you anticipated.

I leave you all with a quote from a close friend and use this as inspiration for your time in the program: "Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire".