A Mass of Christian Burial for Gail Heinbach Savoie – teacher, artist, wife, mother, grandmother and First Lady of t
Tyler Savoy graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2007 with a major in history. He now lives in Washington D.C., works for the U.S. Department of State, and together with his wife Lauren established the Savoy Shrimpapalooza Study Abroad Scholarship. Below Tyler answers questions about Shrimpapalooza and why they felt it was important to give back to the University.
1. What is Shrimpapalooza?
I’m originally from Louisiana and very proud of my family’s heritage. In the summer of 2010, many of my D.C. friends kept saying, “Oh, it would be awesome if you did one of those Louisiana-style shrimp boils you keep talking about,” and that’s how it started. This year will be the ninth year that we host a boil. The first year, there were about 30 people who came over and we had one boiling pot. This year there were more than 100 people and we had six boiling pots. We boiled 55 pounds of shrimp, 25 pounds of sausage, 30 pounds of potatoes, and so much corn, garlic, onions, and mushrooms. It’s just a good Louisiana shrimp boil.
2. What have you heard from the people who attend?
For most people, it’s one of those things that they look forward to all year long. I think that is part of why it’s grown so much over the years. It’s always fun to see people who are first-timers. They will ask where they fix their plates. So you tell them that there are no plates, we have long tables, and you just find a spot. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in that spot, then go to a different spot and meet new people. Besides being about the food, it’s all about community. For me, it’s all the best things about Louisiana that I get to enjoy for one day here in D.C.
3. Why did you choose to fundraise for the study abroad scholarship at Shrimpapalooza?
When we started this, it wasn’t helping to fund anything because it was just a fun gathering. Last year was the first year we decided to raise money for something, and it was to support a scholarship in honor of our friend who passed away. My wife and I were so impressed with the generosity of our friends that we wanted to find another cause that embodied experiences important to both of us. I think a lot about why I chose to move to D.C. and why I sought to work for the Department of State was because of studying abroad. Honors and study abroad were the most pivotal and vital experiences of my time at UL Lafayette, so I wanted to combine those passions when endowing a scholarship. We specifically chose the annual distribution amount to be $500 because when I was saving up to study abroad in the U.K., I found myself short to cover all my expenses while I was away. I received a scholarship for $500, and that made the difference for me to be able to study abroad in the United Kingdom.
Pictured from left to right: Lauren Savoy, Connie Savoy, Tyler Savoy, and Chris Savoy.
4. How else do you fundraise for the scholarship?
I’ve asked friends and family to donate to the scholarship fund in lieu of birthday and Christmas presents. We also asked a friend to design a t-shirt for us and partnered with Parish Ink to make and sell them. Parish Ink has donated $8 of every Shrimpapalooza shirt sold toward the scholarship fund. So far, 62 shirts were sold, covering the cost of one scholarship!
5. How did you get involved with Parish Ink to sell the shirts?
We told them that we’re big fans of their company -- I have probably 13 of their shirts, my wife has 5, and we often give them to friends as gifts. It seemed like a natural partnership to bring another element of Louisiana life to this D.C. event. I always enjoy looking out into the crowd at Shrimpapalooza and seeing all these visual reminders of home.
6. What has your experience been like as a UL Lafayette alumnus living in Washington D.C.?
Everything up here operates at a much quicker pace. I enjoy having four distinct seasons and less humidity, but I miss the food. In Louisiana, a lot of who you are is who your family is and what town you came from. It’s a lot about what your connection to the culture is whereas here in D.C., it’s very much what you know, who you know, and what you do professionally. The element of community is what I miss the most. But D.C. is also a place of wonderful opportunity not only to grow your career and experience, but also your community.
7. How did you connect with other alumni in the area?
I’ll admit that it’s not something I’ve done particularly well. I’ve lost touch over the years, but I think a part of why it was important to establish this scholarship is because I wanted to feel a connection with UL Lafayette, to ensure I’m giving back to the place that set the stage for so much of my future.
Tyler and friends Tracy Hager (left) and Mary Catherine McKinley (right). Tyler and Mary Catherine are wearing this year's Shrimpapalooza t-shirt.