Tulane students head for home

A bittersweet departure for many from Princeton campus

By: David Campbell
   Tulane University senior Carrie Pauker is looking forward to returning to her home campus for graduation this spring, but her homecoming will be bittersweet.
   Ms. Pauker, 21, and a native of West Windsor, was among the two dozen visiting Tulane undergraduates and five visiting graduate students Princeton University temporary enrolled for the fall term in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
   A neuroscience major, she has been accepted to the Tulane University School of Medicine beginning in the fall. Ms. Pauker plans to become a neurosurgeon with a specialization in clinical trial research.
   She said has enjoyed her semester at Princeton, where she said she has forged strong professional and personal relationships that make it hard to say goodbye.
   During her fall term here, she conducted work on her senior honors research in neuroscience, in the process tapping some of the brilliant minds in residence at Princeton.
   "I have developed very close bonds with faculty and graduate students who are helping and will continue to help me through the spring semester — and hopefully throughout the rest of my life," Ms. Pauker said.
   "These are people who are major contributors in the field of neuroscience," she continued. "I have been fortunate enough to work with them one-on-one, and to forge very close bonds with people whom I would otherwise have only read about in articles."
   Also, Ms. Pauker said it has been a nice change to have her family nearby during the past semester, particularly during this emotionally difficult time caused by the hurricane.
   But she said she is very much looking forward to the start of the spring semester back on the Tulane campus in New Orleans on Jan. 17.
   Because Princeton gives its fall-term exams that month, she will be taking tests just as her final semester at her home school is starting.
   "It could be a lot worse," said Ms. Pauker, who has arranged for take-home exams for some of her Princeton classes. "I would say that I was very fortunate to have been able to go to the best school in the country. Princeton has provided a very warm and accessible environment."
   Tulane sophomore Ben Walters, 19, a West Windsor native who is majoring in business, said his fall term at Princeton went well.
   "I had a good time here," he said. "Everybody was really open and friendly. Classes went well."
   But Mr. Walters said that he, too, can’t wait to return to New Orleans, his friends, and his teachers.
   "You’ve got to take the good with the bad," he said, noting that the Internet has enabled him to regularly communicate with his Tulane friends, who ended up dispersed around the country because of Katrina.
   "So everybody’s kind of kept in touch," Mr. Walters said. "Everybody’s looking forward to Jan. 17 when we start classes again."