Dominican alumnae returned home for their annual Homecoming, with a Thanksgiving Mass and luncheon at their alma mater. In addition to the Classes of 1959, 1969 and 1979 celebrating their 60th, 50th, and 40th anniversaries, alumnae represented 31 classes.
Class of 1969 – 50 Year Reunion
Following the celebration of Mass in Alumnae Hall, Jennifer Lucy Avegno, MD from the Class of 1989, was named 2019 Alumna of the Year, recognized by her peers as a woman who instills Catholic values while urging the practice of ethical behaviors as demonstrated through her dedication to family, public service, or career.
2019 Alumna of the Year
Jennifer Lucy Avegno, MD ’89
Dr. Avegno was saluted for her passion in reaching out to the disenfranchised, the lonely, the ignored, and the sick. Described as a shining example of the call to be the light of Christ for others, she has championed tirelessly for every person to have access to excellent health care. Regardless how beaten or broken or frail her patients may seem to others, she sees the goodness in all of them and helps them to see their potential for greatness.
Earning a BA from the University of Notre Dame, MA in Sociology from Tulane University, and MD from Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Medicine in New Orleans, she completed her residency at Charity Hospital in Emergency Medicine and joined the faculty at LSU and Tulane shortly after graduation. Dr. Avegno served as Associate Residency Director and Director of Undergraduate Emergency Medicine Education for both medical schools.
In 2017, Dr. Avegno established the Division of Community Health Relations and Engagement in the LSU Section of Emergency Medicine. As the director, she worked with institutional, governmental, and other community organizations to facilitate innovative programming, interdisciplinary partnerships, and improved population health outcomes. She spearheaded “Stop The Bleed” – a community outreach initiative that teaches youth and adults techniques to stop bleeding caused by trauma until emergency medical services arrive.
In 2018, she was appointed Director of the Health Department for New Orleans, where she works with a dedicated team of public health professionals in addressing critical health needs for the community. Her clinical, program, and research interests include the role of social determinants of health, particularly access and barriers to care; health equity; violence intervention/prevention; sexual assault and human trafficking; and homelessness.
“My own Dominican experience – though I did not realize it at the time – forged a deep commitment to critical thinking, questioning easy answers, desire for service and love of community,” she said in her acceptance speech. “My search for Veritas is grounded in my Dominican education and the women in my family who shaped me, and it is a continual journey. In my work in the Emergency Department and at the city, I am confronted with individuals often on their worst day or in their most desperate state, and must struggle to find the dignity and humanity – the face of Jesus – in everyone. Without my legacy of women and grounding in God’s truth, I cannot do it, and there are many times I fall short. But what a blessing to have these Dominican values to fall back on.”
Her family’s Dominican roots span four generations, starting with her Aunt Jeffe who chose Dominican in 1939, despite the family’s matriarch, Dr. Avegno’s grandmother Dottie, wanting her children to attend her alma mater, Ursuline Academy. The next generation of Dominican scholars followed with Dr. Avegno’s mother, Royann Avegno, whose career includes teaching at Dominican where she impacted the lives of countless students. In 1995, Mrs. Avegno was named Alumna of the Year. Currently, the two are the only mother and daughter in the school’s history who share the honor.
“My mother and father, at a very early age, embraced a radical truth that very few others dare to do. They not only espoused the belief that all of us are God’s children, worthy of love, dignity, and respect, but dedicated their lives to living out their beliefs,” shared Dr. Avegno. “I cannot think of two people who truly understand and live Veritas more than they do.”
This school year, Dr. Avegno’s daughter, Lucy, started at Dominican – the torch passing to the next generation. For this Dominican alumna, her children’s legacy “remains to be seen, their truth yet to be understood. But what comfort that they have 80 years of personal history and more than twice that here at this institution to ground them in the core belief of God’s love and truth in their lives. I am proud to represent all of the women in my family today, and we pledge our commitment to Veritas for generations to come.”