For most native New Orleanians, 2005 is synonymous with the tragic life changing events that forever changed our city. For me 2005 was also one of my most life altering years but for far different reasons.
In 2002 I began my undergraduate studies at Tulane University. I began in Architecture, in part due to a love for the creative arts and in part as homage to the greatest man I’ve had the honor of knowing, my grandfather who spent his life as a draftsman and worked his way to become the leader of one of the largest construction enterprises in our city with little more than a certificate in drafting. Effort was and never will be a shortcoming of mine, but no number of missed meals or missed hours of sleep seemed to put me a position of thriving in my architecture studio. I was well enough to get by but struggled with why no amount of time or dedication could seem to allow me to thrive and get on a track to be a great, not average, not good, architect.
It was in the tail end my Fall semester in 2004 that I ran into the most unexpected of mentors. An instructor whom I had never met and who had never met me, requested a meeting with me. This professor who held degree’s in Architecture, Fine Arts, and Psychology presented to me my academics records from college and high school, my college application, and my test scores. She continued to tell me that she had been watching. Watching how I worked and how I thought and presented that I had the thought process of an artist not a designer. That in her opinion I was in the wrong place. It was a blow but at the same time I was taken aback that someone had invested so much time and insight into me when they had no obligation to do so. Professor Gumard suggested to just try one semester in fine arts and at worst case scennario I had lost one semester but at best I had found my place.
It was a few short weeks into the Spring of 2005 that I knew, unequivocally, that I had found a home. It was only a few weeks later during that very same Spring, that I went on the first date with my now wife and while the 2nd half of that same year was marked with the historical tragedy we’re all familiar with, for me 2005 is and always will be one of the best years of my life. (2011 the year our daughter was born, wasn’t so bad either.) I continue to work be great, not average, not good, in homage to my life’s greatest mentor, my grandfather, and I continue to teach in hopes of one day returning the favor that Professor Gumard provided me.