Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the Louisiana Economic Development grant during an event Friday that celebrated Waitr’s new downtown headquarters.
It is unlikely that Andrea Cooper will ever forget New Year's Eve 1995. That was the night she returned home from a party to find her 20-year-old daughter Kristin had taken her own life. But it is what Cooper has made of the tragedy since then that is the more telling story.
She will recount this story during a presentation on Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom at UL Lafayette.
As Cooper moved past her original shock, she needed to learn the source of Kristin's despair. She read her daughter's journal and her poetry, talked to her sorority friends at Baker University in Kansas and one of Kristin's friends from home. She learned that Kristin had been the victim of an acquaintance rape and had been so deeply traumatized that she could tell no one at the time. When she finally did tell her boyfriend, he rejected her, and she spiraled deeper into depression.
Instead of allowing her grief and anger to consume her, Kristin's mother used it as the fuel to drive her to help others. “Kristin's Story” was born in 1998, and has been supported by the Delta Delta Delta Foundation (Andrea's sorority), and the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation (Kristin's sorority) since 2000. Cooper has crisscrossed the country supported by the Foundations, speaking at college campuses and three conferences each year.
“ I am sharing this because I hope that by telling Kristin's story other lives will be saved, and other young women will not be victims of acquaintance rape, and that those suffering from depression for any reason will get help,” Cooper said.
Representatives from the UL Lafayette Counseling and Testing Center as well as from the Sexual Abuse Response Center will be on hand to answer questions and provide information during Cooper’s presentation.
“ We include them in this presentation for two reasons,” Patricia Mouille, assistant dean of student personnel, said. “First, it is part of the program to make sure that we cover all of our bases and second, because audience members may have a hard time with the information, because some, in some capacity, may have been affected or knew someone who was affected.”
According to Kristy Fusilier, staff counselor for UL Lafayette Counseling and Testing Center, representatives will be on hand to give a synopsis of its services including free counseling with an unlimited amount of sessions, as well as pass out brochures and other supporting materials. “We want to be around to answer questions and also to provide students with the opportunity to set up an appointment if that is what they need at that time,” she said.
This program is sponsored by the national chapter of Delta Delta Delta, and Cooper's visit is made possible through a grant from the national chapter. Cooper has given her presentation to UL Lafayette students one other time, in 1999 just after she began the program.
“ It is important for college students to know what is out there for their own well being,” Mouille said. “It is important for men and women alike. Men sometimes forget that they have mothers, sisters, girlfriends and female friends that may be affected, so it is important for them to hear the story as well.”
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette's Office of Greek Affairs and Delta Delta Delta sorority will sponsor the presentation of “Kristin's Story: A mother's account of acquaintance rape and depression” for the community. The presentation will be on Wed. Nov. 9, 2005 at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom. The public is invited to attend. For more information please call 482-6267.-30-