At Loyola University New Orleans, a lot of people can say that Wolfpack Pride isn’t simply a feeling—it’s a way of life. For music therapy sophomore Christine Johnson, Wolfpack Pride is her life. Three generations of her family have attended Loyola, including her mother, her father, her brother, 3 of her aunts, and her grandfather. Because Loyola celebrates its centennial this year, I decided to sit down with this lovely young woman to talk about Loyola’s history and the significant place her family holds in it.
Take Christine’s grandfather Edward Levy, for example, a student at Loyola who later became a dean of the College of Dentistry. As a student, Edward Levy held positions as president of Alpha Sigma Nu, a Jesuit service fraternity, and Xi Psi Phi, a dentist fraternity. He was also involved in Alpha Pi Omicron, a service fraternity, and served as the secretary of Panhellenic Council. He also served as the editor of The Wolf (the college yearbook) and also founded a training group for people going into war—and those were just a few of his accomplishments.
“My grandfather? Super overachiever,” Christine laughs, “but, you know—this is actually something really cool. Whenever I’m hanging out in [the Ignatius] Chapel, well, that’s where the dental school used to be, so every time I’m in there, I’m like, this is where my grandfather used to teach. I like that.”
Christine moves on to her immediate family, all of who majored in music like her.
“In my family, we say that we’ve taken over every music major except performance,” Christine laughs. “My dad was business of music, my mom was music education, and my brother was music industry. I am music therapy, and now we say that all we need is someone to major in performance.”
Christine’s brother, Mark Johnson, graduated last year. “It was kind of cool for a while to go to the same school as him. We’d never gone to the same school before,” said Christine. Mark now teaches guitar and drums at the New Orleans Academy of Music. He also records and tours with his band, the Acadias.
The story I’m most excited to hear, however, is the story of Christine’s parents. It’s also the story Christine is most excited to tell.
Christine’s parents, Greg Johnson and DeeDee Levy Johnson, actually started dating while they attended Loyola. They met in Loyola’s Chorale, the same singing ensemble that Christine sings in today. Both parents were members of a group called Broadway Babies, a musical theater group at Loyola.
“I think the first time my mom heard my dad sing, he was singing ‘Pretty Women’ from Sweeney Todd,” Christine says. She remembers that she has pictures of them and searches on her computer. “My parents are going to kill me!” she sings.
In addition to Christine’s parents, several of Christine’s aunts have attended Loyola, including Diane Levy Centanni, a dental hygiene major, and Debbie Levy Pierce, an education major.
Loyola was a familiar place for Christine when she was a child. She remembers watching performances there and meeting several professors. When she applied to colleges, Loyola was always on the list.
“I forced myself to look at other colleges,” Christine says, “you know, so I wouldn’t get tunnel-visioned. But I had a teacher in high school who explained what music therapy was, and I knew that was what I wanted to do. There aren’t many colleges that offer that, so Loyola was kind of perfect. It had my program, I practically grew up there, and it was close to home.”
Christine came into Loyola as somewhat of a familiar face. “Lots of my teachers here had my parents [as students]. They get confused sometimes, call me DeeDee,” Christine says. But Christine has already accomplished a lot at Loyola. She’s in the University Honors Program. She also holds membership in the music fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota, a Christian Life Community or CLC (a small group that meets once a week to discuss spirituality in relation to everyday life), University Chorale, and Active Minds (a group being organized on campus that uses the student voice to destigmatize mental health on college campuses). She’s also going on the Ignacio Volunteer trip to Jamaica this summer.
When I ask her about how she feels about the centennial celebration, Christine says, “I don’t think I’m a significant part of Loyola’s history. I think Loyola is a significant part of my family’s history. Everything is talking about these things that have happened in the last 100 years, and it’s cool to think someone from my family has been there the whole way.”
* Pictures taken from The Wolf online and from Christine Johnson’s own collection with her permission.