It was a hot New Orleans day and Beth Stuckart was in her bedroom packing for her return to Seton Hall. The pile of school supplies on the floor was an exciting reminder of her upcoming junior year. Then, her life turned upside down with a simple, yet terrifying, warning. Hurricane Katrina loomed over the Gulf, threatening severe destruction. Stuckart and her family quickly evacuated, only grabbing three days worth of clothes and valuables.
None of them could imagine the disaster facing their home. Meanwhile, Stuckart’s return to school was in a matter of days. “I thought about taking time off but my dad wouldn’t hear of it,” she says. So, the family drove up to New Jersey as planned. Back in New Orleans, the Stuckart’s home had flooded through the second floor. Her books, photographs and other school supplies were ruined.
Stuckart’s attitude never wavered. With great loss comes great hope, and Stuckart was determined to succeed that year. Seton Hall stepped in to help her get there. Years later, she shows her gratitude as a loyal donor.
After Katrina, the University covered Stuckart’s room and board, along with books and fees, so she was able to start her junior year with her friends. During the first week back, the school hosted a lunch for students affected by the disaster. Monsigor Robert Sheeran, president emeritus, reached out to affected families to offer prayers and support in their time of need. Throughout the semester, counselors checked in on Stuckart and other students affected by the hurricane. “It made me feel really loved by the University,” she says. “Seton Hall recognized that I was going through a difficult time and they helped me. It was like the school was giving me a hug.”
That love and comfort is what Stuckart remembers each time she makes a gift. With no home to go back to for months, Seton Hall became Stuckart’s new home. “It was my familiar place,” she says. “I had my dorm room and my friends – nothing had changed. My home in New Orleans was in upheaval and nothing was familiar, so having Seton Hall create that comforting environment was a real blessing.”
At school, she had a part-time job as a hall caller, where she encouraged alumni to make annual fund donations. The recipient of an academic scholarship in addition to the school’s help post-Katrina, Stuckart experienced firsthand how donations can help students. “I wanted to repay that gift in whatever way possible,” she says. “Back then, it was by asking people to donate what they could to help out the University; now, it’s giving what I can.”
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