Introducing New Logos

Southeastern has reinvented its visual identity with the creation of new logos for both the University and athletics. The change comes as the University approaches its 100th anniversary in 2025.

“Since its opening in 1925, Southeastern has had a long and storied history of empowering generations of students to reach for and achieve their best future,” said Southeastern President John L. Crain. “As we are in the final years of our first century and beginning to envision our second century, the time has come to update and unify the University’s brand and identity.”
 
Drawing from iconic elements of Southeastern’s identity, campus, and heritage, the new logos bridge Southeastern’s history and future, Crain said.

“Logos should reflect our character, strengths, excellence and values. These new logos do just that,” added Crain. “The logo change is merely the beginning of a process to give Southeastern a modern brand identity that will lead us into the centennial anniversary.”

Leaping Forward

THE SOUTHEASTERN VERTEBRATE MUSEUM IS GROWING, CURATING, DIGITIZING, AND SHARING ITS COLLECTION TO ENHANCE ICHTHYOLOGY AND HERPETOLOGY RESEARCH.


The National Science Foundation has awarded a Southeastern specialist in the diversity of fishes a grant of $409,200.

Professor of Biological Sciences and ichthyologist Kyle Piller received the three-year grant to improve the Southeastern Vertebrate Museum. The project will focus on curation of existing museum specimens and tissue samples, digitize and georeference specimen data, and integrate the data with online repositories, making the data available to the general scientific community.

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Kyle Piller

“Southeastern has an Ichthyology and Herpetology collection that initially was developed for teaching and research in the 1950s,” said Piller. “The bulk of the collection is comprised of fishes—more than 120,000 specimens and over 7,000 tissue samples—with the majority of the specimens from the Lake Pontchartrain Basin in southeast Louisiana and, more recently, from throughout Mexico and Central America. We also have an ever-growing herpetology collection, part of which was recently obtained from the orphaned Tulane University herpetology collection.”

In addition to the reptile, amphibian, and fish collection, Piller said the museum also has birds and mammals, although their numbers are much smaller. Specimens in the collection include sea turtle shells, a whale vertebrate, and alligators.

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“We actually have alligator purses and shoes to show our guests what is done with alligator skins once they are harvested,” Piller said. “We have a whooping crane, which is hard to come by, and a couple of toucans that are mounted. We are slowly growing in all areas, but the fish collection has grown the most because that’s what I study.”

College of Science and Technology Dean Daniel McCarthy said the grant will be transformative for the Ichthyology and Herpetology collection at Southeastern.

“The museum is much more than a collection of jars to look at; rather, it contains a record of the reptiles and fishes from our region from decades ago, which will prove to be an invaluable resource to scientists studying this ecosystem,” he explained. “Furthermore, the educational outreach component of the grant will expose thousands of students to the importance of reptiles, amphibians, and fish to the Gulf Coast.”

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Both undergraduate and graduate students use the specimens in the museum for research and study as part of undergraduate honors and graduate theses. Many students, Piller said, use the specimens to study their diets.

“Students can cut open the belly of a 20- or 30-year-old specimen and see what the species was eating back then versus what they are eating now,” he explained. “It also gives us a record of the presence of species now versus what they were 30 or 40 years ago, so we can look at change in communities in our region.”

Piller said the project will help revitalize interest in the natural world by using natural history collections to highlight the unique organismal diversity in Louisiana and beyond. Southeastern personnel will develop a traveling fish, reptile, and amphibian program titled “The Bone Sheaux.”

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“This outreach program will be used to stimulate interest in organismal biology for K-12 students in southeastern Louisiana, which includes some of the most impoverished parishes in Louisiana,” he said. “A permanent loan will also be made available to Southeastern’s field station, Turtle Cove, which hosts more than 3,000 visitors annually for public outreach and teacher training workshops.”

“Although the bulk of the vertebrate museum is comprised of fishes, with five herpetology researchoriented faculty on staff and herpetology oriented graduate students in the department, the herpetology collection will continue to grow in the coming years, as our specimen growth primarily has been a by-product of ongoing research and thesis projects, as well as for specimen usage in the classroom,” he explained.

Piller said a natural history museum course will be developed for Southeastern’s undergraduate students to provide them training in museum curation and specimen preparation.

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“This team-taught course will focus on collection care and curatorial techniques and will give students first-hand experience in a research collection,” he explained. “The course will culminate in the development of a museum website and a small working museum exhibit that will be displayed in the lobby of the biology building.”

Well-curated collections will continue to serve the scientific community for decades to come, Pillar said, and the value of scientific collections and data they contain are becoming increasingly important as major initiatives push the bounds and usefulness of museum data.

“Beyond hard-core science initiatives, natural history collections represent reservoirs of knowledge that need to be promoted and publicized to the general public,” he said. “Southeastern has specimens with scientific value, and this study will assure that these specimens are curated and available for study by the scientific community.”

By Tonya Lowentritt

The Lion’s Roar Takes Home Numerous Louisiana Press Association Awards

The student staff of The Lion’s Roar, Southeastern’s student newspaper, brought home nine awards from the annual Louisiana Press Association (LPA) Better Newspaper Competition.

The Lion’s Roar, edited by Gerard Borne, Jr., a senior communication major from Norco, garnered second place accolades in the “General Excellence” category. Student newspapers from Loyola University New Orleans and Grambling State University placed first and third place respectively.

The staff also placed second in the “Best Front Page” category of the competition for the front-page designs of the March 17, 2020, and April 7, 2020 issues. Individually, Brynn Lundy, a senior communication major from Lutcher, took second place in the “Best News Story” category. In addition, Maiah Woodring, a senior biological sciences major from Albany, earned a first-place award for her photography in the “Best News Photo” category.

“It really shows how hard our staff have worked over the past year. I am honored to say that the staff and I have received this recognition,” Borne said. “I could not be happier, as I think we have some of the best writers and photographers working with the newspaper.”

Several additional staff reporters also earned individual awards from the LPA. Borne earned recognition in the “Best Sports Photo” category, taking both first and second place. Also, Symiah Dorsey, a junior communication major from LaPlace, received awards for both written and photography pieces. She placed first and second place in the “Best Single Editorial” category. Dorsey also placed third in the “Best Feature Story” category.

Director for the Office for Student Publications Lee E. Lind acknowledged the dedication and work ethic of the student staff over the past year, despite restrictions in place due to COVID-19.

“I am always proud of the quality and success of the work produced by our student editors and reporters,” he said. “This past year has been an especially challenging one, but through it all, these student journalists never wavered in their commitment to the work, the publication, and the campus community. To see them recognized for that dedication is greatly rewarding.”

Forty-four LPA member publications, college and university student newspapers submitted 973 entries for the Better Newspaper Competition. The Colorado Press Association judged the competition this year.

Southeastern Channel Named Best Television Station in the South

For the sixth time in the past nine years, the Southeastern Channel has been recognized as the “Best College Television Station in the South.”

The channel earned first place “Best of South” honors for the third year in a row and the fourth time in the past six years at the annual Southeast Journalism Conference. Its six years of winning “Best College TV Station” since 2013 are the most by any university in the southeast region of the U.S. During that span, the only times that the Southeastern Channel did not win first place, it won second place.

The SEJC celebrates student journalism and offers an opportunity for participants to develop relationships with students from schools throughout the southeast United States.

This year’s “Best of South” competition featured 369 entries from 30 universities throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. There were 45 judges for the competition, including broadcast and print journalism professionals. Winners were announced in a virtual ceremony from Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn.

“It’s a great honor to once again be recognized as the very best college television station in the South,” said Southeastern Channel General Manager Rick Settoon. “This is a tribute to the high quality standards of our students, the Southeastern Channel staff, and the television instructors in the Department of Communication and Media Studies.”

In addition, the Southeastern Channel won first place for “Best College Video News Program” for the student newscast Northshore News. The newscast has won first place five times in the past 10 years, the most of any school in the region.

In the individual categories, Kaylee Normand of Mandeville won second place for “Best Television Journalist in the South,” while Chris Rosato, also from Mandeville, won third place for “Best Television Hard News Reporter.” Both Normand and Rosato won for their Northshore News stories.

Emile Stretcher of Jennings and Cameron Pittman of Bogalusa won second and fifth place, respectively, for “Best Advertising Staff Member.” Raychelle Riley of Denham Springs won second place for “Best Journalism Research Paper.”

“Best of South” judges were impressed with Northshore News, which has won honors from College Broadcasters, Inc. as the second-best college TV newscast in the nation.

“These newscasts were very well produced,” said one judge. “Great local stories. Nice variety. Good mix of hard and soft. Strong visuals. Well-stacked shows with balance.”

Comments from another judge included, “Extremely professional and watchable program here! Great news judgment, as stories seemed well sourced and appeared where they ‘should.’ Nicely done. The hurricane footage was especially gripping!”

Anchors for Northshore News included Rosato, Normand, Lily Gayle of Greensburg, and Gabrielle Cox of Hammond.

Reporters for the newscasts were Rosato, Normand, Riley, Gayle, Cox, Dylan Domangue of Houma, Kayla Martin of New Orleans, and Lorraine Weiskopf and Caroline Fussell of Covington.

Student reporter Coby Sanchez of Baton Rouge, a certified storm spotter for the National Weather Service, captured dramatic live footage of Hurricane Zeta from inside the storm’s eyewall for one Northshore News episode.

This is the second consecutive year that Rosato has won an individual honor at the Southeast Journalism Conference. Last year he won third place in the “Best Television Journalist” category and third in the onsite competition for “Best Television Anchoring.”

Rosato also won regional honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and a first-place national award from College Broadcasters, Inc. for his news stories. Additionally, the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, made up of all television and radio professionals in the state, named him the 2020 Louisiana Student Broadcaster of the Year.

Normand won an SPJ national award for her reporting and anchoring for the Southeastern Channel news magazine Southeastern Times, as well as a regional SPJ Mark of Excellence award for news feature reporting.

Rosato, Normand and Riley were hired as television news reporters right after graduating in December of 2020. Rosato was hired to report for WAFB-TV Ch. 9 (CBS) in Baton Rouge, while Normand was hired by KATC-TV Ch. 3 (ABC) in Lafayette. Riley now reports for WGMB-TV Ch. 44 (FOX)/WVLA-TV Ch. 33 (NBC) in Baton Rouge.

In its 19 years of existence, the Southeastern Channel has won over 400 national, international and regional awards, including 20 awards from the Emmys. The channel can be seen on Spectrum Channel 199 in Tangipahoa, St. Tammany, Livingston and St. Helena parishes and on mthermonwebtv.com in Washington Parish. The channel’s live 24-7 broadcast is streamed on Roku, Apple TV and thesoutheasternchannel.com, which also offers video on demand. The Southeastern Channel can also be accessed through its Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts.

Save the Date for an Exciting Year of Performances at the Columbia Theatre

Southeastern’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts recently announced its 2021-22 season, which offers everything from live music to dance to theater. Dates and additional information are available at columbiatheatre.org.

The Columbia Theatre curtain officially opens Aug. 14 with a screening of Jaws, the first of the Columbia Movie House Series. Scheduled at 7:30 p.m. and as a Shark Week celebration, the film is a big screen showing of Steven Spielberg’s legendary creature feature. Film historian Jason Landrum will introduce the film and share some fun facts about the making of the cinema classic. Tickets are $20 and include free popcorn and a shark week “swag bag,” while supplies last.

Next up is a screening of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Once again, film historian Jason Landrum will introduce the film and share some fun facts about the making of the legendary John Hughes film centered on a high school senior playing hooky. Tickets are $20 and include free popcorn and an 80s “swag bag,” while supplies last.

Just in time for Halloween, the first of Columbia’s Original productions is scheduled Oct. 15, 16, 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. Directed by Columbia Theatre Artistic Director Jim Winter, The House on Haunted Hill is adapted for the stage from the Vincent Price film. The creepy classic is filled with Halloween thrills and chills, Winter said.

“An eccentric millionaire is throwing a party…inside a haunted house,” Winter explained. “Riches await his guests if they can survive the night.”

Tickets are $35 for adults, $20 for students and children.

A special screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, is scheduled Oct. 29 and 30 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and students, and VIP tickets are $25.

“Back by popular demand and hosted by master of ceremonies Joe Burns, our two screenings of this cult classic feature a shadow cast, costume contest, and more,” Winter said. “VIP tickets include a throw bag filled with all the interactive props you need and a surprise from our shadow cast.”

Next up is The Last Waltz, an array of local musicians that join forces on the Columbia Stage to perform the set list from the famous farewell concert by The Band. Scheduled Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m., the concert features Byron Daniel, Will Vance, Soul Revival, Lacey Blackledge, Bayou Honey and many more. Winter said this event is a fundraiser for Serenity Treatment Centers, Southeastern Students in Recovery, and True Rescue.

Tickets are $25 for adults and students, and VIP tickets are $35. A VIP ticket includes a reusable, spill-proof Columbia Theatre tumbler.

The holiday season at Columbia begins on Dec. 3 with Columbia Theatre’s Holiday Extravaganza. Scheduled at 6 p.m., the event invites patrons to come in their pajamas for a holiday celebration where they can explore the decorated lobby, meet Santa Claus, take selfies, listen to live holiday music, and enjoy a special screening of The Polar Express at 7 p.m. Free popcorn, hot cocoa, and a holiday “swag bag” are included, while supplies last, with the purchase of a ticket. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students and children.

The Hammond Ballet Company celebrates its 25th anniversary of The Nutcracker on Dec. 10, 11, and 12. Scheduled at 7 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 12, the timeless holiday classic features the combined talents of professionals and all-star locals. Tickets are $35 for adults and $20 for students and children.

The first Columbia production of 2022 is scheduled Feb. 4 and 11 at 7 p.m. and Feb. 5 and 12 at 2 p.m. Directed by Winter, Puffs Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic is Matt Cox’s smash hit Off-Broadway comedy that celebrates all things Harry. Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for students and children.
 
“If you are a fan of a certain boy wizard,” Winter said, “you do not want to miss Puffs.”
Next up is Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show March 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 for adults and $20 for children and students.

“Come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab as the Columbia Theatre and Southeastern Theatre combine forces to bring you the live musical sensation that inspired the legendary cult film,” Winter said.

Columbia Theatre will host four primetime concert events for the 21st annual Bill Evans Jazz Festival April 6–9. Each concert is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. and will feature current Southeastern students, alumni, faculty and special guest artist Lisanne Lyons. Adult tickets are $20 and tickets for students and children are $15.

The Phantom of the Columbia: A Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre rounds out the month of April on the 27–30 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $100.

“Dress for an evening of fine dining and operatic grandeur because you’re invited to a very special on-stage dinner at the Columbia. One Thirteen Executive Chef Ryan Haigler will provide a delicious meal complete with some scrumptious Candlestick Bakery desserts,” Winter said. “Unfortunately, someone or something seems to be haunting our theatre. Oh, and did we mention members of the cast and crew have been dropping like flies lately? Perhaps you can help us catch the killer. Maybe you will be the next victim? Or are you the Phantom of the Columbia?”

Fittingly, the final film screening in the Columbia Movie House Series is scheduled May 4 at 7:30 p.m. Landrum will introduce the film Star Wars: A New Hope and share some fun facts about the making of this cinema classic that started it all. Free popcorn and Star Wars “swag bag” are included, while supplies last, with ticket purchase. Winter said patrons should arrive early to enjoy the decorated lobby that will include fun photo-op spots. Tickets are $20.

All tickets are available at the Columbia Theatre box office, located at 220 E. Thomas Street in Hammond, or by calling 985.543.4371.

For more information, contact the Columbia Theatre at 985.543.4366 or visit columbiatheatre.org.

Catching the Storm

Southeastern student Coby Sanchez has turned a fear of storms into a passion for understanding them and sharing information to help others—becoming “Southeastern’s first meteorologist.”

When Southeastern freshman and Baton Rouge native Coby Sanchez was a small child, storms were the boogeyman. As the wind roared and the tinny sound of rain reverberated off the windows and roof, little Coby would become more and more frightened, the outside world seeming to slide into dangerous, uncontrollable chaos. “Momma, I don’t want there to be a tornado!” he would cry inconsolably.

Then in 2008, Coby experienced a storm that would forever change his life: Hurricane Gustav. Gustav tore across Hispaniola, Haiti, Jamaica, and Cuba before making landfall in the U.S. near Cocodrie, Louisiana, as a category two hurricane. It lashed the Gulf Coast, creating about $6 million (in 2008 dollars) in damages in the U.S., 1.5 million power outages in Louisiana alone, and a spark in one local boy who lived through it.

After hours of white-knuckled fear, watching towering trees fall and roofs ripped off of homes, the pounding rain and roaring winds finally subsided—and Coby knew that if he were to ever conquer his biggest fear, he would have to better understand it. Eventually, instead of cowering from storms, he would seek them out, chasing them and studying their mysteries. No longer just to put himself at ease, and above even an unquenchable thirst for more knowledge, his ultimate mission has evolved to help others better prepare for and survive the wrathful monsters that so terrified him as a child.

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Coby Sanchez

“The importance of studying storms and meteorology to me is saving lives,” said Coby. “As humans, we’re curious about nature. We want to have a visual within a storm to see what’s going on, what’s happening. But being prepared and preparing other people, residents in cities and states that will be impacted, that’s the whole point of meteorology. Because these are dangerous storms. They can take lives. I’d love to help prevent that.”

Over the ensuing years, Coby has pursued countless storms, from riding them out and investigating their aftermath to studying their characteristics and patterns from afar. While still in high school, he even received certification as a National Weather Service (NWS) SKYWARN® storm spotter, a program that, according to NWS, allows volunteers to “help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.” He additionally shares the information that he gathers as a certified member of the Spotter Network.

Coby plans to one day turn his passion for storm chasing into his career, informing mass audiences by becoming a meteorologist and television weatherman, hopefully even following in the footsteps of renowned Weather Channel on-camera meteorologists like Jim Cantore and Tevin Wooten. So when it came time to begin choosing a college, the opportunities presented by Southeastern and the Southeastern Channel—winner of over 400 awards since its inception in 2002 and the only university channel in Louisiana to have ever won an Emmy, let alone have done it 20 times—immediately caught his attention. The Southeastern Channel has won first place in the nation 11 times at the National Student Production Awards given by College Broadcasters, Inc. and has been named “Best Television Station in the South” eight times by the Southeast Journalism Conference. Southeastern’s strong reputation of caring was also a plus for Coby.

“I heard a lot of great things about Southeastern,” said Coby. “At Southeastern, in my experience, they care. They definitely care to help and better you as a student and as a person for the future.”

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Along with this, he recognized how the Southeastern Channel would be a perfect fit with his career goals. “After college, I’d love to go straight into meteorology, if possible. Working with the Southeastern Channel will give me that experience which would better my chances of getting a job.”

So in the fall of 2020, as the most record-breaking hurricane season ever recorded was still gearing up, Coby enrolled at Southeastern.

The Southeastern Channel, which Coby knew would be the perfect way to gain invaluable, hands-on experience while also sharing some of his own expertise, did not currently have a weather segment. Undaunted, he approached Southeastern Channel General Manager Rick Settoon about incorporating one.

“I’ve always wanted to have a weather segment for student training and experience at the Southeastern Channel, especially for those who would like to do the weather, and a lot of things have come together to make that happen,” said Rick. “One is having a student who’s knowledgeable enough about weather with a strong career focus of becoming a TV meteorologist, someone who’s dedicated to developing a regular segment. Coby has that laser focus and can become the real trailblazer in this regard.”

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Rick and Coby are partnering together to begin building a program for adding weather segments to the Southeastern Channel, identifying and learning the appropriate programs, tools, and approach. Since Coby is not yet a certified meteorologist, he will convey rather than create weather predictions in order to effectively bring local forecasts and weather reports to Southeastern students and the surrounding community.

“I tell students all of the time that at the Southeastern Channel our mission is to help make their dreams come true,” said Rick. “We’ve done that for students who’ve become professional news anchors and reporters, sportscasters, producers, writers, directors, videographers, editors, and filmmakers. We plan to do that for Coby with weathercasting. So it’s the perfect fit.”

Although he’s still in his first year at Southeastern and the weather segment at the Channel is still taking shape in development, Coby, who plans to one day round out his experience at Southeastern by attending meteorology school, has already learned a great deal.

“Working with the Channel has given me first-hand experience of working for a news channel. That’s the closest I’ll get until actually landing a job like that,” he said. “It’s taught me how to work programs like Premiere Pro, which is a computer-based program for video editing. And most importantly, it’s taught me to be more open and step out of my comfort zone. Because when interviewing people or anchoring segments, you can’t be scared. You’ve got to just do it. And if you mess up, you keep going.”

Delta_2020-10-06_1340Z“A weather segment will help students like Coby who plan to eventually attend meteorology school and also those who can get jobs at local stations where they don’t require a meteorology degree to do weather,” said Rick.

In addition to helping build the weather segment so that future students with a similar passion can also gain such an experience, Coby dove into the chance to capture the historic, seemingly endless, 2020 hurricane season, reporting on Hurricane Zeta from the field for the Channel’s Northshore News program. He chased a total of five hurricanes that came into the Gulf and was in Hurricane Sally and Hurricane Zeta as the eyewall actually came ashore.

While the season was one that he will definitely never forget, his venture into Zeta was particularly eventful. Coby described how, despite careful planning, downed equipment left him and his aunt, who shares his love of storm chasing, to ride out the hurricane in their vehicle.

“I went to Slidell and was getting some footage for the Southeastern Channel, and a Doppler radar temporarily lost signal, so I was not able to get that radar feed from my velocity radar like I wanted. By the time it updated and came back online, it was too late. The eyewall was hitting, so we had to pull over at a gas station near the Twin Spans. And when it hit, it came with a punch. There were winds that topped off at maybe 100 miles per hour. I was actually planning on getting out to get footage for the Channel of me in that wind. I could not open the door. I actually tried using my feet to open it. I could not push the door. The car was shaking.”

With nothing else around but a gas station, Coby and his aunt moved to hunker down behind the gas station, away from the awning which Coby feared could be snapped off and lifted away like an umbrella at any moment.

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Despite the precarious situation that Coby found himself in during Zeta, which certainly also caused some nail-biting worry and fervent prayer on the part of his parents, Coby did say that safety is at the top of his mind when planning to go out into a storm.

He begins the process by watching the news, checking the radar, plotting where he will be and where all of the exits and alternate routes are, and checking to see which radars he will use and if any are damaged or out of service. Food, water, and battery for recharging his phone are packed. Throughout the storm he uses RadarScope, which has two radar feeds—velocity radar for understanding the wind speed and identifying spinups or tornados and a precipitation depiction for seeing the rain.

B6485CA3-B71F-4C62-BA0D-1A57AA1A0F06Coby mentioned that there is always an unpredictable aspect to storms, which is why preparing as much as possible is so important. However, it’s also part of their beauty. “It’s always a new experience with each storm. Each storm has its own feeling—own unique aspect, or character, within it.”

By the time it was over, the 2020 season produced 30 named storms, 13 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes (with top winds of 111 mph or greater). Records were broken for the most named storms, the most named storms to make landfall in Louisiana (five), the strongest storm (Hurricane Laura) to hit Louisiana since 1856, the first time a hurricane eye has passed over New Orleans in more than half a century (Hurricane Zeta), the most storms to form in a single month (five in September), only the second time in history forecasters had to move to the Greek alphabet for names, and more.

Coby has experienced and tracked other storms, including being caught in a few isolated tornados and interviewing survivors in the aftermath of an EF4 tornado in Southern Mississippi. But hurricanes remain the most intriguing to him. And he sees plenty of opportunities in the future for studying them.

“For future hurricane seasons, or any type of weather, I do think they could potentially get stronger over time,” commented Coby. “I think it will be years, maybe even decades, but I do believe climate change and global warming will eventually fuel future hurricanes. I think they will strengthen in size and category. I believe even the way meteorologists predict the weather or the way we learn about the weather could eventually change.”

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But for now, Coby is continuing to soak in all he can about meteorology while gaining real-life experience on how to effectively inform others of what may lie ahead.

“I wake up, and I’m excited to go to work and learn something new,” Coby said of being at Southeastern and a part of the Southeastern Channel. “I’m excited to get this thing started, working on the green screen and eventually adding that weather segment. It’s a dream come true.”

Through a yearning for knowledge and a desire to help others, Coby has transformed his dark, incomprehensible monster of wind and water into what appears to be a radiant and deeply fulfilling future.

By Sheri Gibson

Southeastern Graduates Have Least Student Loan Debt in the State

Southeastern graduates have the least student loan debt out of all the universities in Louisiana, according to statistics recently released by LendEDU. The average debt per borrower for Southeastern’s graduating class of 2019 was ranked No. 1 for least debt and No. 36 for lowest debt nationwide.

In Louisiana, the average debt per student borrower is $23,855, the seventh lowest in the nation. Fifty-one percent of Louisiana students graduated with debt.

Southeastern graduates reported an average debt of $19,356, 1.93 percent less than the previous year.

“For over 95 years now, Southeastern has been dedicated to our students’ success,” said Southeastern President John L. Crain. “Part of that focus on student success is sensitivity to the cost of a college education. A Southeastern education is an incredible value and always has been. We have a long-standing tradition of programs and initiatives that help keep a Southeastern degree accessible and affordable.”

He pointed to two examples: the Southeastern Promise, which provides a four-year path to degree completion that comes with a fixed net tuition guarantee for participants, and the university’s textbook rental program, which saves students thousands of dollars while attaining their degrees.

The statistics stem from a voluntary survey conducted annually by Peterson’s College Data. The complete study can be found online here

By Tonya Lowentritt

TikTok Cop

SOUTHEASTERN UPD HAS FOUND A NEW WAY TO ENGAGE THE COMMUNITY AND MEET STUDENTS WHERE THEY ARE—AND IT’S GOING VIRAL.

Community policing is a challenge for every police department across the United States. This is no different for campus police departments. They deal with the same challenges as every police department in the country when trying to connect to the community. Southeastern, through the work of one dedicated individual, has found itself at the forefront of community policing in the digital age.

Officer Madison “Madi” Morse had an idea back in March of 2020. With the University shutting down because of COVID-19, the University Police Department (UPD) was presented with a challenge. How were they going to stay connected to a community that was experiencing a shutdown like never before? One Word: TikTok.

TikTok is a short-form video platform that allows users to upload videos of any subject imaginable. The user can then edit the video, put music to it, and add effects and stickers. Creativity is the limitation of the platform. TikTok has over 800 million users as of January 2021, 41 percent of whom are between the ages of 18 and 25.

With those demographics in mind, Officer Madi saw that TikTok was the perfect platform to reach students while they were working from home. The options were limitless in ways she could connect with students. From dancing in Friendship Circle to offering a 60-second tour of campus and everything in between, Officer Madi started to build up the platform as a great tool for UPD. Students loved to see the places they knew around campus and what Officer Madi was going to do next. Then a fellow officer dared Officer Madi to put a traffic cone on her head for a video.

Big, small, and every color you could imagine. Officer Madi had a cone for every situation. Through quick wit and some creative replies, Officer Madi became known as the “Cone Cop.” She is a viral sensation with some of her videos seen as many as five million times.

Officer Madi put Southeastern and UPD on the map in the law enforcement world when it comes to community policing. Departments from across the country have been reaching out to UPD to find out how it reached 170,000 followers.

Chief Michael Beckner believes that this sort of interaction is crucial when it comes to developing a rapport with the people you police. It “humanizes the badge” and shows that police officers are just men and women doing a job and trying to keep the public safe. Southeastern UPD also has the “Blue and You” initiative, which is a program that encourages a partnership between campus police and the Southeastern community. Campus officers encourage interactions with students by patrolling high pedestrian areas and conducting events such as handing out water the first week of classes.

As the University has opened back up, Officer Madi has used her new platform to expand awareness of the goings-on at the UPD by producing videos on safety classes, campus events, and community awareness. For her efforts Officer Madi was recently named Southeastern Police Department Officer of the Year.

So whether it’s online or on campus, take a moment to congratulate our very own “TikTok Cop,” Officer Madi Morse. You can also follow Officer Madi and the Southeastern UPD on TikTok via @SoutheasternUPD.

By Allen Cutrer

Commemorating 100 Years of Grit and Grace

Sims Memorial Library is hosting the popular traveling exhibit Determined to Rise: The Women’s Suffrage Movement in Louisiana, commemorating the challenges and triumphs of the women’s suffrage movement up to the 100th anniversary of ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

The exhibit, which will be on view at Sims through Aug. 31, features eight panels focused on Louisiana suffragists, the African-American woman’s experience with women’s suffrage, a timeline of significant events, laws pertaining to women’s rights after gaining the vote, and federal and Louisiana female advocates who have made their mark on history.

The Centennial Women’s Suffrage Project team at Southeastern developed the exhibit with grant support from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Rebirth grant program.

The project launched at Southeastern in 2019. The team partnered with the National Women’s History Museum, Preserve Louisiana, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources regional program. The project leaders have engaged in scholarly discourse through presentations, panel discussions, a one-day conference, a virtual institute for K-12 educators, and a traveling exhibit.

“Our future plan is to look at funding a documentary on Louisiana suffragists,” said Angela Dunnington, librarian and project team member. “We want to tell the Louisiana story and air that documentary on local television channels.”

For more information, contact Dunnington at 985-549-3485 or at adunnington@southeastern.edu.

By Tonya Lowentritt

Cypress Trophy Dedicated to Two Southeastern Alumni

The first women’s softball game between Northwestern State University and Southeastern Louisiana University was played in 1985, but it wasn’t until three and a half decades later, in 2019, that the Southland Conference rivals established an official rivalry and its trophy.

With their passion to promote and advance women’s collegiate athletics, specifically softball, Marcia and Cameron Barr approached the two universities with their idea for The Cypress Trophy to be awarded to the winner of the annual softball series between the Lady Demons and Lady Lions.

The bald cypress is the official state tree of Louisiana, beautifully landscaping scenic bayous, lakes, and waterways stretching between and beyond the state’s oldest settlement and its strawberry capital. The needles of the bald cypress are flat and yellow-green in summer, turning rusty orange in autumn, reflectively symbolic of the respective athletic programs. The Barrs graciously donated a young cypress tree to both universities for planting at their softball facilities.

Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity, of which Cameron was a member and major influencer before his passing in December 2020 made the inaugural presentation of The Cypress Trophy on March 30, 2019, to the Lady Demons who swept the three-game series.

May 7-9, 2021, several members of the Sig Tau Family traveled to Natchitoches for the three-game series and dedication of the trophy in honor of Marcia and Cameron Barr.