Gino Mortillaro at graduation. Photo provided by Tulane Undergraduate Admissions.
Gino Mortillaro is originally from New Orleans and graduated from Tulane in 2009 with a degree in Psychology. Being from New Orleans, his adjustment to the community was not difficult. He was involved in many activities ranging from men’s club volleyball to being a NOLA Experience participant and leader. Gino loved Tulane and New Orleans so much that he also stayed at Tulane for Medial School.
Hurricane Katrina struck in the very beginning of Gino’s freshman year, which caused him to experience some major life changes. The day after he completed NOLA Experience, he as well as the entire Tulane community was forced to evacuate the area due to the hurricane. All Tulane students were forced to study at a different University for the entire following semester, giving Tulane time to repair all of the damage that was incurred from the hurricane. Gino decided to study at Louisiana State University, Baton Rogue (LSU) for this semester. Luckily, he knew many people that attended LSU, and was able to “crash on their couches” for the time being.
After the semester, Gino was excited to be back in New Orleans; however, he felt it was strange to be back in the city after so much had happened. It was weird for him to pick back up where he had left off because there were many changes that had occurred in the mean time. He was forced to become accustomed to the city in a very different state. For example, when he got back to the Tulane campus, there were military personnel patrolling the curfew at night. This was something that had never occurred before. The streetcar had also ceased operation. Gino was also affected by the hurricane on a very personal level. His grandmother’s house, which had been a very central location for his family, was completely decimated by Katrina. This loss caused changes in his family dynamic. Gino felt as though he had come back to a very different New Orleans than he had grown up in.
Gino has many fond memories of the experiences he had and places he spent time at while he was a student at Tulane. His favorite memory from his college experience was his freshman year NOLA Experience. He had signed up for the “Down and Dirty” track, in which he participated in outdoor activities and got to go on a two day canoe trip. He loved his experience so much that he became a leader for NOLA Experience for the next three years. Gino loved to explore different areas of New Orleans. While exploring he found that his favorite restaurants to go to were Palace Café and Bacchanal’s, and his favorite places to spend time at in New Orleans were “The Fly” and the aquarium.
Gino acknowledged that his favorite Tulane tradition took place at the end of his senior year. This tradition is the graduation party that takes place on the academic quad following the graduation ceremony. He enjoyed this event because there was good food, a band, and he got see all of his classmates and meet their families. After graduation, Gino decided to stay at Tulane for Medical School. He noted that by the time he graduated from medical school, New Orleans had fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina. Since graduating Tulane Medical School, Gino has moved to Boston. He has not been back on the Tulane campus since he graduated in 2009, and hopes that it has not changed since he left.
[Editor’s Note: This article was captured as part of the class “Media Histories” taught by Vicki Mayer in collaboration with the Office of Alumni Affairs at Tulane University. It was originally published on November 4, 2014.]