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.

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.”


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.


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.”


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


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

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.

1,156 Graduates Celebrated During 2021 Spring Commencement Ceremonies

Southeastern honored 1,156 graduates Tuesday, May 18, and Wednesday, May 19, in several separate commencement ceremonies on campus.

Southeastern graduates included 434 men and 722 women, who were receiving 15 different degrees and representing 21 states and 22 countries.

Candidates for associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees were honored.

The university awarded its highest academic honor, the President’s Medal for Academic Excellence, to 16 students with the highest cumulative grade point average in the university’s five colleges. All medal winners finished with a 4.0 grade point average.

For a full list of graduates and President’s Medal for Academic Excellence recipients, click here.

Southeastern Student Named State’s Top Student Broadcaster

For the sixth time in the past eight years, a Southeastern student has been named the state’s top student broadcaster.

Raychelle Riley of Denham Springs was named 2021 Louisiana Student Broadcaster of the Year in Television by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters (LAB) at its annual Prestige Awards ceremony held virtually this year.

Riley was selected from all college television students from throughout the state by the LAB, made up of all television and radio professionals and stations in Louisiana.

“I am so thankful to be named by the LAB as the state’s top student broadcaster,” Riley said. “I am so honored and grateful to have been recognized among so many amazing television broadcast professionals. Being selected is uplifting, motivating, and quite humbling. This reassures me that I am headed in the right direction, and that hard work does pay off in the end.”

Riley joins former Southeastern Channel reporters Erika Ferrando (2014), now at WWL-TV Ch. 4 (CBS) in New Orleans, Paul Rivera (2015), currently at WESH-TV Ch. 2 (ABC) in Orlando, Fla., Dominique Brogle (2016), formerly at KTBS-TV Ch. 7 (ABC) in Shreveport, Wesley Boone (2018), now at KTAL-TV Ch. 6 (NBC) in Shreveport, and Chris Rosato (2020), now at WAFB-TV Ch. 9 (CBS) in Baton Rouge.

“It’s a great honor that once again the Southeastern Channel has produced the top student broadcaster in Louisiana,” said Rick Settoon, Southeastern Channel general manager. “Our previous winners have taken advantage of the unique training that we offer at the Southeastern Channel, and it’s catapulted them to top state, regional and national awards. It has also prepared them for stellar careers in the industry as evidenced by the fact they are already reporting and anchoring in larger TV markets nationally in such a short amount of time after graduation. I have no doubt that Raychelle will follow suit.”

Riley was a news anchor and reporter for the Southeastern Channel’s student newscast Northshore News, which has been named the second best student television newscast in the nation by College Broadcasters, Inc.

“One of my goals, always, is to make a difference, and reporting and anchoring give me the opportunity to do that,” Riley said. “I hope to gain the trust of my viewing audience and be someone they can always count on for clean, unbiased news.”

A December 2020 graduate from Southeastern as a communication major in broadcasting, Riley was hired immediately by WVLA-TV Ch. 33 (NBC)/WGMB-TV Ch. 44 (FOX) in Baton Rouge as a news reporter. Her stories air every morning for the Baton Rouge and surrounding area in roughly 300,000 TV homes.

The LAB also honored Riley a year ago with its prestigious Student Broadcaster Scholarship of $2,000. The LAB’s scholarship program supports promising future broadcasters and aids them in seeking the best quality education in the field of broadcasting. It states that the purpose for the scholarship is to encourage students of the highest caliber to enter broadcasting as a career and guarantee the future quality of broadcasting in Louisiana.

“TV news reporting and anchoring presented itself as a perfect accumulation of the things that I love, which include my community, meeting new people, writing, leadership, communication, working with the camera, and my passion for touching lives, which I have the opportunity to do every day,” Riley said.

In addition, Riley was selected as Southeastern’s first-ever personal intern for Southeastern Alumna and Emmy-winning news anchor for ABC’s Good Morning America, Robin Roberts. Interning at GMA in the summer of 2019, Riley worked closely on a daily basis with the network superstar, contributing to each morning’s GMA news production at the show’s studio in New York’s Times Square.

Riley said that working for the Southeastern Channel’s Northshore News newscast has given her invaluable, real-world training for a career in television news.

“The Southeastern Channel operates as a real, local television station,” Riley said. “It helped me accumulate all of the skills that I needed in order to be prepared when I transitioned into my career at WVLA/WGMB.”

Riley’s stories contributed to Northshore News this spring winning “Best Overall College Television Newscast” given by the Society of Professional Journalists in its “Mark of Excellence” awards for Region 12, made up of all colleges in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. The newscast was also honored as first-place “Best College Video News Program in the South” by the Southeast Journalism Conference, which is made up of 40 universities from eight states in the southeast U.S.

“The Southeastern Channel helped me attain this success by taking my passion for people, storytelling, and my community, and then providing me with the tools I needed as a reporter to bring it all together,” Riley said. “The staff and professors there are the best to learn from. They have a great deal of knowledge to share and plenty of experience in the industry. I have learned so much from them and others throughout this program. They work hard to put you in the best position for a successful career in TV News.”

The Southeastern Channel has won over 400 national, international, regional and state awards in the past 18 years, including 20 awards from the Emmys. The channel can be seen on Spectrum 199 in Tangipahoa, St. Tammany, Livingston and St. Helena parishes and at in Washington Parish. The channel’s live 24/7 webcast can be seen on Roku, Apple TV and which includes video on demand. The Southeastern Channel can also be accessed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Beauty in the Chaos


Throughout this past year of world-wide uncertainties brought on by the pandemic, there has perhaps never been a better time for both creating and engaging with the arts. As Thomas Merton once said, “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

Southeastern’s Contemporary Art Gallery has remained a valuable resource for students and the entire community throughout this difficult time—providing physical and digital spaces for both education and reflection. Importantly, it has also served as a venue for Southeastern faculty to showcase their own recent works and artistic processes, such as during the Gallery’s recent 2021 Art + Design Faculty Exhibition.


This exhibition, which was held from January 20-February 24, is an annual event open to all Southeastern faculty. This year’s installment featured approximately 20 artists, many of whom are working in series, and their wide-ranging works that include photography, video, sculpture, ceramics, fashion or costume design, theatre design, and more.

Cristina Molina
Cristina Molina

Associate Professor of New Media and Animation and Director of the Southeastern Contemporary Art Gallery Cristina Molina explained that the goal of this exhibition “is to highlight the work of faculty so that students in the Visual Art + Design Department have an idea of what their professors and instructors are making creatively. It’s to support the idea that we, as teachers, are also engaged in a creative practice, and that is part of our research which we also then bring to the classroom.” Moreover, it is also created to allow the larger community to become more familiar with the recent artistic work coming out of the studios of Southeastern faculty.

The work presented in the exhibition is indeed quite diverse—in terms of media, but also in terms of concepts and concerns being explored. While there can sometimes be a lack of understanding when it comes to contemporary art, Molina explained how each piece displayed is deeply thought out. “I’d like viewers to appreciate the efforts and the talents of our faculty, but also to appreciate the amount of research and scholarship that goes in to creating these works, and to see that each artist is really considering theme and subject matter as they’re making these works,” said Molina. “It’s a very thoughtful and carefully considered process.”

Every artwork has its own unique story to tell, but some of the pieces in this exhibition were directly influenced by the subject matter of the pandemic. One of these, by Professor of Art Education Dr. Kim Finley, is a monochromatic, abstracted landscape that directly references the number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. “It’s a very thoughtful piece, a very current and poignant piece for us to consider the gravity of this pandemic and to remember to take care and take precautions, because it is a very serious problem right now,” said Molina.

Kim Finley, Negation; Survival’s Guilt or 185,000 Americans Dead Due to Covid-19. Mixed media print, paint stick, graphite. drawing pencil 2021.

Other featured artists and faculty members including Christopher Burns, Tom Walton, and Vanessa Centeno reference the pandemic in their artwork as well.

Burns’ work, a photographic survey of the rural South Louisiana landscape, uses vibrant colors while also being quiet, dark, and omitting people. According to him, “This reflects not only the coronavirus restrictions placed on my practice, but the way outsiders struggle to relate and understand the landscape here, geographically and socially.”

Artwork by Instructor of Photography Christopher Burns

The art community has been one of the hardest hit by the economic repercussions of the pandemic, with many museums and galleries being forced to close their doors and artists’ sales in steep decline. Following a 2020 national survey of COVID-19 impact on museums in the United States, the American Alliance of Museums, the only organization representing the entire scope of the museum community and the premier museum accrediting body in the U.S., concluded that one out of three museums in our country may close forever.

Yet, there is a great benefit to maintaining a physical space for the arts. “I think a physical space is important, especially for viewers, because there are certain facets of artworks that can’t be translated via a screen,” said Molina. “This can be especially true for three-dimensional media, the materials and dimensionality of which can be documented but are hard to translate. Additionally, the space itself helps create a heightened level of experience and engagement with the art. I think that anyone who appreciates art can remember being confronted with an artwork that really blew them away. That was meaningful to them. They felt transcended by it. And such experiences are also because of the conditions of the space. For example, it’s very quiet [in the Gallery]. Part of the role of the Gallery is to create these conditions where artwork can be viewed in a contemplative space free of any distraction and offer space and time for that kind of viewing participation.”

While maintaining this physical space for the arts is vital, implementing associated programming to enhance understanding of and engagement with this and other exhibitions is also essential, especially during the pandemic. At the Contemporary Art Gallery, this has been done through continuing the visiting artist talks, including in a new virtual format while in-person gathering has not been possible. The Gallery also traditionally provides exhibition tours, catalogs, and more. “It’s very important to have these peripheral programs so that they inform the current exhibitions,” said Molina.

012721_0008The development of virtual programs like the Gallery’s visiting artist talks is just one way in which the arts community has developed innovative methods to survive and reach others during this past year. “I think that the artist community is very resilient,” said Molina. “We’re trained to solve problems creatively. So I’m hopeful that out of this will come some new, innovative ways to get work distributed, but also to engage audiences.”

From students to the wider community, Southeastern’s Contemporary Art Gallery does indeed continue to serve and engage audiences. With new exhibitions to explore almost every month, both in person and virtual programming for enhanced experiences, and a serene space for reflection with free admission for all, it remains a respite in the arts, both from afar and in person in the heart of Southeastern’s campus.

By Sheri Gibson


Cristina Molina
Cristina Molina, associate professor of new media and animation and director of the Southeastern Contemporary Art Gallery, installs artwork created in 2020 by Christine
Crook, assistant professor of theatre, for the 2021 Art + Design Faculty Exhibition.
Screen Shot 2021-03-09 at 4.34.18 PM
Vanessa Centeno, instructor of 2-D design, Neon Tears (detail). Acrylic on canvas, wood, LED light, 2021


Explore new paintings, works on paper, and a collaborative animated music video by New Orleans Based Artist John Isiah Walton in Black Paintings: Cybernetic Folklore, Place, + Spirit, open June 14-September 2, 20201.unnamed

New Professional Sales Training Room Now Open

Students in Southeastern’s new Professional Sales Program will now benefit from a state-of-the-art training room thanks to a $100,000 donation from Northwestern Mutual. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held recently to celebrate the opening of the Northwestern Mutual Training Room located in Garrett Hall.

Managing Partner of Louisiana and Mississippi Steven Dugal and Managing Director of the Mandeville and Gulfport District Offices Paul Hodge were recognized as donors with matching gifts from Northwestern Mutual’s corporate office.

Southeastern’s Professional Sales Program was created to draw high-ability students toward selling as a career, better prepare those students for early success in professional selling careers, and connect them with sales professionals in the region. According to research conducted by the Sales Education Foundation, more than 50 percent of business school graduates enter the workforce in a sales-oriented position.

Dean of the College of Business Toni Phillips said the core sales curriculum consists of courses in personal selling, advanced professional selling, and sales management and is supported with other marketing courses in consumer behavior, marketing research, and marketing strategy. With the current goal to prepare students for success in the sales profession, the program has been developed for marketing majors with a future goal of including those majoring in areas outside of business who wish to pursue a sales certificate.

“We know that professional sales is not only a starting point for careers, but is becoming more and more important across all sectors of the economy,” said Phillips. “The Southeastern Professional Sales Program will help train the next generation of sales leaders, and the investment that Northwestern Mutual is making demonstrates that the program is on the right track. We are really appreciative of Northwestern Mutual.”

An important objective of the program, Phillips added, is to connect sales program students with sales professionals and organizations through role-play competitions, internships, guest speakers, panel discussions and career opportunities.

For more information about Southeastern’s Professional Sales Program or how businesses can get involved, contact Assistant Professor April Kemp at or (985) 549-2277, or visit

slu_northwestern_mutualcrImage: Celebrating at the ribbon cutting ceremony are, from left, Southeastern President John L. Crain, Jordyn Eaton, Katy Dugal, Ryan Rhoto, Jason Navarre, Steven Dugal, Paul Hodge, Dicky Lyons (all with Northwestern Mutual), Sales Program Coordinators Assistant Professor April Kemp and Associate Professor Tará Lopez, Miss Southeastern Lily Gayle, Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale, and Tangipahoa Parish President Robby Miller.

Student Speech Language Hearing Group and Advisor Honored by National Organization

The National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) has awarded the NSSLHA chapter at Southeastern with 2021 Gold Chapter Honors.

National NSSLHA Chapter Honors are awarded to affiliated chapters that demonstrate an outstanding effort to support the organization’s national mission to inspire, empower, and support students in communication sciences and disorders programs, said retired Professor of Southeastern’s Communication and Sciences Disorders program and Chapter Advisor Lillian Stiegler.

Lillian Stiegler 

“The Communication Sciences and Disorders program offers an undergraduate curriculum leading to the degree of bachelor of science,” said Stiegler, a resident of Covington. “The four-year curriculum prepares students to serve individuals with communication disorders. Clinical practica are required.”

The program also offers curriculum and external clinical practica leading to a master of science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, added Stiegler, a specialist in the field of autism spectrum disorders.

Graduate student Mary Grace Kelley of Slidell nominated Stiegler for the Chapter Advisor Honors Award, which she received for the first time this year.

“Dr. Stiegler has served as our NSSLHA Chapter Advisor for 25 years—always emphasizing the importance of advocacy, voting, philanthropy, and service. She has a visible and contagious love for speech-language pathology, which spreads like wildfire through her students and chapter members,” said Kelley.

Kelley explained that Stiegler motivated her students to overcome obstacles created by COVID-19 and encouraged them to launch a mentorship program. Their efforts helped build relationships within the CSD program, as well as connect the students virtually with audiologists and speech language pathologists across the world.

“With Dr. Stiegler’s leadership, our chapter has received National NSSLHA Chapter Honors award multiple times, including Chapter of the Year in 2004, and the Award of Excellence twice,” Kelley said. “Since Dr. Stiegler has retired from Southeastern, we honor her efforts and achievements, and we truly believe she deserves this award.”