Liana Donahue, Bryn Mawr College

Featured Scholar

Summer 2009

Liana Donahue plans to become the mayor of New Orleans someday. Though she hasn’t returned there to live since evacuating days before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, her heart never left.

Liana grew up in the 8th Ward of New Orleans, raised mostly by her father, an artist. After she and her family left their home to escape Katrina, she moved many times and attended three different high schools before settling at Urban Science Academy in the West Roxbury section of Boston, where her mother relocated.

“My grades in high school improved after Katrina despite moving around so much,” Liana says. “I didn’t want that experience to be a defining moment in my life. I wanted to be looked at as more than a Katrina survivor.”

Indeed, she is. A rising sophomore at Bryn Mawr College, Liana won reelection as sophomore class president after being elected president of the freshman class, the only candidate without a co-president running mate. She plans to study philosophy on the pre-law track and hopes to practice family law before beginning her political career.

Liana has participated in various rebuilding projects in New Orleans and is quite vocal about her love for the city she hopes to return to. Shortly after arriving in Boston, she was asked to give a speech at the city’s Teen Empowerment Summit before the mayor and 500 of her peers about government treatment of New Orleans’ residents in Katrina’s aftermath.

“So many of my friends in New Orleans are still struggling,” she says. “The city needs and deserves leadership that is there for its people. I hope that one day I’ll have that opportunity.”