Rendez-Vous de l'Alliance with Courtney Kelly

Date: 06 Feb 2024, 6:30pm - 8:30pm GMT-6 Central Time (US & Canada)

Join Courtney Kelly as she takes you on a journey of her experience evacuating from Hurricane Katrina to becoming a civil engineer and self-published author. Hear how her career trajectory was changed after Katrina and why that story became the focal point of her children’s book, “Céleste sauve la ville” (Celeste Saves the City). Explore the significance of Celeste’s Creole name, the motivation behind translating the book into French, and the importance of including elements and symbols from Louisiana throughout the text.

About the Book

“Céleste sauve la ville” entraîne les lecteurs dans la vie d'une jeune fille forcée de quitter sa chère maison, alors que l'ouragan Katrina menace d'inonder la Nouvelle-Orléans. Déterminée à jouer un rôle clé dans l'avenir, Céleste envisage de devenir ingénieure civile et découvre comment protéger les zones humides pour ralentir les crues, lors de violents ouragans et tempêtes.

Présentant aux lecteurs le génie civil, tout en rendant hommage à la Nouvelle-Orléans (aussi appelée la « Big Easy »), ce conte semi-autobiographique encourage les enfants de tous horizons, à faire carrière dans les STIM (science, technologie, ingénierie et mathématiques), tout en réaffirmant la nécessité de poursuivre les efforts pour protéger les villes côtières de l'impact des catastrophes météorologiques.

Celeste Saves the City pulls readers into the life of a young girl forced to leave her beloved home as Hurricane Katrina threatens to flood New Orleans. Determined to make a difference in the future, she sets her sights on becoming a civil engineer. Using concepts from her studies, Celeste figures out how to protect the wetlands that slow down flood waters during bad storms and hurricanes.

Filled with elements of civil engineering concepts, while paying homage to the “Big Easy”, this semi-autobiographical tale elevates the need for continued efforts to protect coastal cities from the impact of catastrophic weather events.


Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Courtney grew up wanting to be a veterinarian - until Hurricane Katrina changed the course of her life. After attending numerous engineering and math camps, she moved from Louisiana to pursue degrees in civil engineering and mathematics at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas.

She began a career in construction project management of heavy civil infrastructure projects that has included work at DFW International and Love Field Airports, highways, and local municipalities. Courtney went on to obtain a master's degree in civil engineering with a concentration in structures from SMU and a master's degree in business at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. She is also a licensed professional engineer in the state of Texas and was named a 2023 Engineering News-Record Texas & Louisiana Top Young Professional (

In her spare time, Courtney serves on the board for SOSMC USA, a nonprofit raising funds to renovate three buildings on the campus of a school for low-income disabled children in Chennai, India. She enjoys traveling, attending arts events, discovering new music, watching Korean dramas, and spending time with her fluffy bunny, Albus.


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Alliance Française
de La Nouvelle-Orléans

1519 Jackson Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130

Monday-Thursday: 10am-6pm
Friday: 10am-4pm


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