Southeastern Channel Videographer Wins First in the Nation

A Southeastern student at the Southeastern Channel has won first place in the nation for news videography.

Dylan Domangue of Houma won a first-place national Mark of Excellence Award in the “Broadcast News Videography” category given by the Society of Professional Journalists in its annual national competition. Domangue’s winning entry, “Mayors Salary Debate,” was produced for the Southeastern Channel’s award-winning student newscast, Northshore News.

Domangue also won second place in the “Broadcast Sports Videography” competition for his “Southeastern vs. Northwestern State Football” game report for the channel’s award-winning student sportscast, The Big Game. It was the second year in a row that the SPJ has honored Domangue with second place in the country for sports videography.

“Just to be nominated amongst the best in the nation and then to win first place is almost surreal,” Domangue said. “There are so many people who were nominated for this award, so being recognized as the best in the entire nation is truly a special honor.”

“It’s an awesome accomplishment for Dylan to be recognized as the very best out of all college broadcasting students in the entire nation by such a prestigious national journalism organization as the Society of Professional Journalists,” said Southeastern Channel General Manager Rick Settoon. “The fact that he’s placed in the top two in the country two years running is doubly impressive.”

Also winning second-place national Mark of Excellence honors were John Sartori and Kaylee Normand, both of Mandeville, in “Best All-Around Television News Magazine” for the Channel program, Southeastern Times.

The Southeastern Channel has now won five national Mark of Excellence awards in the last two years. In addition to honors for Domangue, Sartori and Normand, student Amanda Kitch of Covington won a second-place 2018 national SPJ award in “Broadcast Feature Videography” for her Northshore News story, “Mosquito Control.”

“We’re so proud of John and Kaylee along with Dylan for these top national honors,” Settoon said. “They’re all blessed with incredible natural talent, but they’ve also worked very hard to develop these stellar skills resulting in well-deserved national awards.”
The Mark of Excellence Awards honor the best of collegiate journalism from a calendar year. SPJ industry professionals, who were directed to choose entries they felt were the best in student journalism, judged the Mark of Excellence Awards. If no entry met the level of excellence, no award was given.

National Mark of Excellence winners are chosen from category winners in each of the SPJ’s 12 regions. Domangue, Sartori and Normand became eligible for the national awards after placing first in their categories at the Region 12 Mark of Excellence competition against students from all universities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. The Southeastern Channel led all universities in the region with nine awards, including seven first-place awards.

Domangue’s Northshore News story covered the debate in St. Tammany Parish between the Mandeville city council and outgoing mayor Donald Villere over the mayor’s salary.

“For a news story, it really requires the videographer to be creative,” Domangue said. “Not only do you have to match the video with the audio, but you have to find shots typically at the primary location of the story. News stories require more thought when trying to find the right angle of what to shoot and how to shoot them. Since the shots in my story were all filmed from the same location, there were limited shot opportunities, but it is because of my creativity and my experience that I was able to find the right angles to make my story look better.”

Domangue has previously won multiple national and regional awards for his reporting, anchoring and producing from prestigious organizations such as the Suncoast Emmys, Associated Press College Broadcasters, Broadcast Education Association (BEA), College Broadcasters, Inc., College Sports Media Awards, and the Southeast Journalism Conference.

“With all of his national and regional awards for on-camera reporting, it’s truly exciting to see that Dylan is now recognized as the best in the nation for his videography and camera work as well,” Settoon added. “It shows that he’s applied his training at the Southeastern Channel to become an all-around TV journalist with multiple skills. We emphasize that all aspiring reporters learn how to be proficient not only in their journalistic skills, but also in the technical areas of camera work and video editing since it’s necessary in the marketplace to be an all-around journalist.”

Domangue’s sports story featured videography of the 2019 Southeastern-Northwestern State football game. Last year Domangue won second place in the country for his videography of the Southeastern-LSU basketball game.

A May 2020 graduate of Southeastern, Domangue has been hired as a news reporter and anchor for KALB-TV (NBC/CBS) Ch. 5 in Alexandria, La. While at the Southeastern Channel, he not only reported, anchored, produced and directed for Northshore News and The Big Game, but he also hosted the Lion Tracks coach’s show and provided play-by-play announcing, color commentary, sideline reporting, producing and directing for Southeastern sports game broadcasts that streamed live on ESPN-Plus. His Big Game sportscasts and game broadcasts also won first in the nation in various awards competitions.

“The Southeastern Channel is a great place to get repetition that is truly needed to get better in this field,” Domangue said. “I had the honor to get so many opportunities for better news and sports. Of course, for my first couple of stories my work was raw and needed a lot of polishing, but everyone at the channel was supportive and offered help, which made me better overall.”

Sartori and Normand co-anchored the winning Southeastern Times while contributing three television feature stories apiece to the 30-minute episode.

Also a May 2020 graduate, Sartori has been hired as sports reporter-anchor for KTAL-TV (NBC) Channel 6 in Shreveport, La. At the Southeastern Channel, he won additional national honors for anchoring and reporting for The Big Game and for his play-by-play announcing for live game broadcasts. He was honored by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with student Emmy Awards in the Suncoast Region two years running in the “On-Camera Talent” category.

Normand, a December graduate, has been hired as a news reporter by KATC-TV (ABC) Channel 3 in Lafayette. Normand won national and regional awards at the Southeastern Channel not only for her news feature stories, but also for her reporting of hard news stories and anchoring for Northshore News. She was honored earlier last year by the SPJ as one of the top three in the nation for College Coronavirus Coverage during the onset of the pandemic.

“I think the Southeastern Channel is such a great place for any aspiring television production or communications major,” Normand said. “Not only is the environment diverse on set, but the environment behind the scenes is as well. I have met so many talented and interesting people working at the channel with the same major, but different dreams, and they have all taught me things that I can use in my own career path as a news reporter. I am so beyond thankful for everyone that I have met at the Southeastern Channel and everything that I was able to soak in during my time there.”

In its 18 years of existence, the Southeastern Channel has won over 400 national, international and regional awards, including 20 awards and 67 nominations from the Emmys. The channel can be seen on Charter Spectrum 199 in Tangipahoa, St. Tammany, Livingston and St. Helena parishes and on for viewers in Washington Parish. The Southeastern Channel’s live 24/7 webcast and video on-demand are available at The Southeastern Channel can also be seen on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube and is now available on Roku and AppleTV.

Northshore STEM Coalition Joins Forces with Chevron to Offer Students Math Support

The Northshore STEM Coalition and STEM NOLA have joined forces with Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit and TIES, an organization focused on building meaningful partnerships that help to address opportunity gaps in education, to launch Chevron: Fueling Math. Both the Northshore STEM Coalition and STEM NOLA are members of TIES’ STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice, a network of 94 Ecosystems operating worldwide.

Chevron: Fueling Math was developed with input from dozens of educators, families and community leaders and made possible through $75,000 in funding from Chevron. Imagine Learning is also providing support for the initiative.

The program will work to raise the public’s understanding of the role math plays in everyday lives, develop a team of volunteers to mentor and tutor local middle school students and provide meaningful learning opportunities to spark students’ interest in math.

Led by Southeastern Louisiana University and Northshore Technical Community College, Northshore STEM Coalition increases community awareness and interest in STEM by promoting and creating STEM events and supporting out-of-school programs in the Northshore region.

“Chevron: Fueling Math is the ideal solution for providing direct support to students, teachers and families, while also introducing students to professionals who can serve as role models,” said Wendy Conarro, co-chair of the Northshore STEM Coalition.

In addition to a public awareness campaign, Chevron: Fueling Math will host various events to raise awareness about the importance of math and get students excited about the subject. For more information, visit

The program began with a virtual kickoff on Saturday, Feb. 6, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., during which students learned to make a Mardi Gras greeting card, guided by NASA System Quality Engineer Renee Horton.

A Math Corps, made up of volunteers who will tutor and mentor area middle school students, will also be formed in virtual settings. STEM professionals from across the region are encouraged to join the Math Corps to share information about the role that math has played in their lives. To volunteer for the program, complete the questionnaire at

“When students meet someone who not only excels in math, but also uses it in their career, they start thinking about STEM professions they could pursue,” said Caitlin Hunter, community engagement specialist for Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit. “We have a unique opportunity and responsibility to help students enhance their math skills and begin building their confidence in the subject. At Chevron, we are committed to investing in valuable programs like this one that promote STEM education and foster a passion for learning. We’re glad to be a part of it.”

Once the Math Corps is formed, students will be invited to join online math tutoring and mentoring sessions during which they will work on specific math challenges to improve skills.

For more information about Chevron: Fueling Math, visit

Sole IB Certification University in the Gulf South for Teachers

Southeastern remains the only university in the Gulf South authorized to offer courses leading to the International Baccalaureate (IB) Educator Certificate in Teaching and Learning, according to the latest directory released by the International Baccalaureate Organization.

Southeastern is one of only 50 IB authorized certification institutions in the United States. The certification, which is granted by the IBO, prepares teachers to use advanced academic techniques in the growing number of IB schools. IB programs offer students in elementary through high school a comprehensive, demanding curriculum of advanced studies for highly motivated students.

“It’s such an honor to know that Southeastern is in this elite number of universities offering the International Baccalaureate Educator Certificate,” said Paula Summers Calderon, dean of the College of Education. “As the only accredited university in the Gulf South approved to offer the IBEC, Southeastern has earned a stellar reputation.”

Calderon said Cherissa Vitter, IB coordinator for the university’s Department of Teaching and Learning, has worked hard to recruit both pre-service and in-service teachers to seek certification in international education.

“Her students hail from all over the world and range from undergraduate students to students who already hold doctorates,” she said. “In the IBEC program, teachers learn best practices for all content areas and grade levels regardless of whether the teachers teach in an IB school.”

“IB Programs are inquiry based and teach students how to learn,” Vitter explained. “The curriculum is world-wide and teachers must attend IB sanctioned training to teach IB courses at an IB World School. This training is standardized across the globe.”

There are currently 21 IB programs in Louisiana encompassing ages 3-19. All IB programs are represented, which include: Primary Years Program, Middle Years Program, Diploma Program, and the Career-related program.

The IB program started in 1968 as a diploma program in the United Kingdom, France and the United States as educators looked to develop an academically challenging program to prepare students for success at the university level and beyond. IB programs are now offered worldwide at schools that meet the rigorous IB standards.

Southeastern is a recognized university to offer courses leading to the IB Educator Certificate in Teaching and Learning: Primary Years Program and Diploma Program. The program at Southeastern has verified the course completion for candidates in over nine countries, including the United States.

“It is quite incredible to reflect upon the fact that teachers in China and India are able to teach at IB World Schools because of their courses from Southeastern,” Vitter said.

In addition to gaining knowledge of the IB programs, holding an IB educator certificate means the candidates have exceeded IB professional development requirements for program authorization and evaluation purposes.

The entire program is two semesters online. After two semesters, candidates will receive a Certificate of Course Completion from Southeastern and the IB Educator Certificate in Teaching and Learning from the International Baccalaureate Organization. Candidates may also pursue a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, International Baccalaureate Education with additional courses.

For more information on the certification program, contact Vitter via email at or call 985-549-5248.

Southeastern MBA Program Named One of the Most Affordable in the Nation

Southeastern’s Master of Business Administration Program has earned recognition as one of the 2021 top 25 most affordable programs in the nation by College Consensus, a unique college ratings website that aggregates publisher rankings and student reviews.

One of only three Louisiana universities selected, Southeastern ranked 13th. The full listing can be accessed here

The Most Affordable MBA Programs is a consensus ranking of MBA programs in top business schools around the nation. This ranking of the Most Affordable MBA programs is based 100% upon each MBA’s base tuition.

According to the website, each of the MBA programs listed can be completed with a base tuition rate under $12,000. This offers students a top business education, a great MBA brand, and important networks without breaking the bank.

“We are pleased that our program is ranked among the top 25,” said Dean of the College of Business Antoinette Phillips. “Our students are motivated and seeking to build their skills. We’re happy to provide relevant curricula taught by involved, caring faculty who help them achieve their goals.”

Southeastern’s program is internationally accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and offers students a practical learning experience that is designed to cultivate students’ knowledge and skills in order to advance in their professional endeavors. The curriculum prepares students to assume positions of leadership and responsibility in administrative positions in a globally competitive marketplace. It is designed to enhance the skills, knowledge, and analytical ability of MBA students.

For more information on Southeastern’s MBA Program, visit

Creating a Solution

Southeastern Professor of Organic Chemistry Jean Fotie is trying to make the world a better place by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and recycling the CO2, while also providing unparalleled student research opportunities in the process. That task became easier when he received a $265,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The purpose of the grant is to develop greener and sustainable catalytic methods for the reductive functionalization of carbon dioxide. In other words, the goal of the project is to develop better ways to turn CO2 into useful commodity materials.


“Reducing the emission of carbon dioxide, one of the most significant long-lived greenhouse gases, into the atmosphere is one of the major challenges of our time,” said Fotie, a resident of Ponchatoula. “The alarming rate at which the concentration of carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere has already prompted the scientific community to develop strategies to either limit the emission and / or remove this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.”

Fotie explained that one of these approaches, known as capture and sequestration, is a technique through which carbon dioxide from power plants, combustion, and other industrial sources that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere is captured, compressed, and injected into underground geologic formations for safe, secure, and permanent storage. Despite the high cost associated with this process, the CO2 captured through this technique is stored, not transformed or recycled for other usage. Consequently, it is still susceptible to create serious environmental issues in the future.

There have also been a number of regulations designed to reduce the release of CO2 into the atmosphere, notably The Paris Climate Agreement. However, integrating economic viability as an important parameter for a more sustainable outlook has emerged as a convenient approach in recent years, focusing primarily on the conversion of this abundant and nontoxic feedstock into valued-added chemicals, Fotie said.


“For example, imagine that CO2 is incorporated into other molecules through simple and safe transformations to create new pharmaceuticals, textiles, fibers, or any useful materials for a common purpose,” he explained. “Better yet, imagine a car that can transform the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels into methanol through a simple catalytic convertor. Then imagine that this car stores the methanol and then burns it as a fuel in a circular recycling system to further a morning commute or a long trip.”


“More than the obvious environmental remediation, this approach will be like turning CO2 into cash, and there is no better incentive than that for the chemical industry,” Fotiesaid. “Of course, this requires the development of practical and sustainable catalytic systems that can enable a streamline fixation and conversion of CO2 into these useful chemicals, preferably via continuous flow industrial processes.”

“Dr. Fotie has been one of our most productive researchers for years, so it is no surprise that he has received this prestigious award,” said Dean of the College of Science and Technology Dan McCarthy. “It is not just the quality of the work that distinguishes his research, but it is the fact that he includes so many of our students in his research. This grant will not only help the scientific community, but will also lead to an outstanding educational experience for our students.”

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“The project objective is to develop a better understanding of how a number of active precious metals on one hand, and less active but earth-abundant metals on the other hand, respectively nano-dispersed in a range of sol-gel-derived organically modified silicates, would behave toward the reductive functionalization of CO2,” Fotie explained. “Our hope is that, one day, one of these new materials we are developing could be used in the transformation previously mentioned or as a catalytic convertor in a new and greener generation of cars.”

More importantly, Fotie said, these activities will provide a unique opportunity to create a research environment that combines three very different groups of students at different stages of their education, namely the high school students enrolled in Southeastern’s Math-Science Upward-Bound program, Southeastern undergraduate
students, and Southeastern integrated science and technology master’s students.

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“Chemistry is an applied science, and ‘learning by doing’ is the best educational approach to make our students ‘real world ready,’” he said. “So, besides the development of a new catalytic system, there is an important educational aspect associated with this project.”

Fotie said the grant provides tuition and wages for an industrial science and technology master’s student, wages for undergraduate students, and summer stipends for high school students from the Southeastern Math-Science Upward-Bound program who will be involved in the project.

“This is very important because it enables these students to quit their off-campus jobs and focus exclusively on the task at hand,” he said. “This unique learning environment is designed to enable the younger generation to mirror their future through the lenses of their observations and interactions with the advanced generation.”


In fact, the groundwork for this project was laid by Southeastern alumni, who were all supported by a previous grant and have now all graduated and advanced to industry jobs or graduate school.

“Their success is, in part, attributed to the fact that they did not have work off campus, and could focus on school, while conducting their research in between classes,” Fotie said. “This unique opportunity allows them to be exposed early on to important applications of the concepts they learn during lectures and enables them to make informed decisions about their futures.”

Fotie obtained his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and master’s degree in natural product chemistry from the University of Yaoundé I in Cameroon, where he also started his doctoral degree. He was a visiting doctoral student at the University of Potsdam in Germany before returning to Cameroon to defend his thesis. After, he was a postdoctoral fellow in bioinorganic chemistry at McGill University in Canada and a World Health Organization research scholar in medicinal chemistry at The Ohio State University School of Pharmacy.

By Tonya Lowentritt

The Legacy of Strawberry Stadium

The current home of Southeastern men’s football, as well as women’s soccer, Strawberry Stadium has a rich 83-year history. Throughout the decades, it has stood as a solid testament to both the fierceness of true Lion Spirit and our ever-changing world. Generation after generation have battled for victory on its turf, cheered on their school with pride or reconnected with Southeastern and fellow classmates in its stands, experienced some of the best years of their lives living in its housing or forging friendships in its social spaces, celebrated a new school year on its grounds, and so much more.

In honor of the more than eight decades of tradition, we look back at some of the most monumental moments and triumphs in the story of Strawberry Stadium.


On May 12, ground is broken on Strawberry Stadium as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) program. Under project #1304, the
construction cost $144,000 ($2.95 million in 2020 dollars). Edward F. Neild, D. A. Sondal, and E. F. Neild Jr. were the architects of the two buildings that would collectively become known as Strawberry Stadium. The structures were designed to hold 8,200 fans.

Strawberry Stadium is completed and the first game is held in the new facility on September 17, during which time then-Governor Richard Leche dedicated it in person. The Lions, fresh off an 8-0-1 season in 1936 under head coach A. L. “Red” Swanson, face off against the LSU freshman team for their first game in the stadium.

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They celebrate their first landslide win in it a week later, defeating Southwest Mississippi Junior College 52-7. The Lions finish their first season in Strawberry Stadium with a 6-1-1 home record and an overall mark of 8-2-1.

Mornings in Strawberry Stadium

In addition to providing an exciting new venue for the community to cheer on their team and school, the new stadium also serves as one of the campus’s first student housing facilities and much-needed space for auxiliary services. The first floor of the East Stadium building held a cafeteria, post office, and social room—a precursor to the first War Memorial Student Union completed in 1950, although it continued to be used as a gathering spot even beyond then and served as a meeting room for student organizations. A men’s dormitory occupied the second floor. West Stadium housed athletic offices and training facilities on the first floor and a football player dormitory on the second floor. To this day, the two buildings continue to provide space for campus operations, with East Stadium’s first floor now housing University Advancement’s Office of Marketing and Communications and its second floor serving as additional office space for the Department of Visual Art + Design, while West Stadium remains home to athletic offices and training facilities.

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The stadium was completed in only 16 weeks, due in part to the eagerness of Governor Leche, who reputedly pulled workers from other government construction projects in the area to work on the stadium. Leche initially planned to name the stadium after himself, but it instead was decidedly named in honor of the local strawberry farmers. A plaque still remains on the north end of East Stadium in honor of governor Leche’s contribution.

From 1942-1945, the excitement and celebration in Strawberry Stadium is put on hold as players and other members of the Southeastern community heroically serve their country during World War II. When the roar finally resumes in 1946, it does so epically.

The returning Lions achieve a perfect 9-0 season, becoming the first undefeated and untied football team in the University’s history. Southeastern outscores the five visitors
to Strawberry Stadium by a combined total of 159-19 and end the victorious returning season by winning the only bowl game in Lions football history, the Burley Bowl in Johnson City, Tennessee.

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Strawberry Stadium’s field was named Carroll Field in honor of longtime Southeastern supporter Eldridge Carroll (1867-1960) who passed away in October. Carroll, a prominent Hammond real estate developer who became known as “Coach” for his tutelage of the football team, served for many years as a dedicated volunteer in several leadership roles on campus, including as superintendent of the Strawberry Stadium building.

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Two of football’s most legendary players take on the Lions, but Strawberry Stadium plays witness to their defeat. With Coach Pat Kenelly at the helm, Southeastern triumphs over Pensacola Navy College and quarterback Roger Staubach on October 28. The next week, on November 4, a Terry Bradshaw-led Louisiana Tech squad is outmatched during the 1967 Homecoming game. Staubach (with the Dallas Cowboys) and Bradshaw (Pittsburgh Steelers) both go on to be members of the NFL Hall of Fame and win a combined six Super Bowls in the 1970s.


Halloween 1970 proves to be scary for another future NFL quarterback when Southeastern defeats Youngstown State University, led by Ron Jaworski, who would later play for the Philadelphia Eagles and in Super Bowl XV.

On October 18, Southeastern ties a national record as three Lions—Mack Boatner, Kendall Denmark, and Charlie Thomas—make history by all topping 100 yards rushing in a 47-6 Homecoming victory. A few weeks later, fans go crazy as Boatner rushes for a school-record 275 yards, a mark that stands until today.

The largest crowd ever in Strawberry Stadium, 12,000 fans and visitors, packs the stands while cheering the Lions on to victory against Jackson State University on October 3.

On November 23, the final Lions football game of the twentieth century is played in Strawberry Stadium. Due to budget constraints, football is discontinued for nearly a generation to come as the first of many chapters in Strawberry Stadium’s story comes to a close.

The roar returns to Strawberry Stadium! Following the success of the Campaign for Excellence, which raised $5 million, and an outpouring of support from the Southeastern and local communities, the first Lions football game in nearly 18 years
is played in Strawberry Stadium on August 30. A 24-minute lightning delay followed by a losing deficit threaten the celebration, but the Lions rally and go on to achieve victory as cheers once again echo throughout the beloved facility.


Playing in a driving rain due to Tropical Storm Matthew, on October 9 Southeastern soundly defeats the University of Northern Colorado and wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who goes on to make the Pro Bowl three times during a 12-year NFL career playing for the San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina’s disastrous impact on South Louisiana, the start of the football season is delayed as members of the Southeastern community address their own devastating losses or aid in recovery efforts for others. The Southeastern campus warmly welcomes and shelters those who have been displaced, including McNeese State University’s football team. Games resume on September 10, helping provide a sense of normalcy and a spark of happiness to those who are able to attend. Crowds witness the Lions win both this delayed home opener against Alcorn State University on September 10 and their big game against new neighbor McNeese on October 22.

Southeastern unveils new renovations at Strawberry Stadium on September 13. The much-anticipated additions include the Victory Club, which features 116 additional outdoor seats and six luxury suites seating 15 people apiece. The top level of
the new structure is dubbed the John A. Chauvin Press Box. As part of the project, a parking garage with a 500-vehicle capacity is constructed adjacent to the west side of Strawberry Stadium to better meet the needs of Southeastern’s growing student body.

On September 22, the Lions earn their first win under head coach Ron Roberts in dramatic fashion by earning a touchdown and two-point conversion against McNeese State University with only 2:39 remaining. Future NFL starter Robert Alford clinches the win with an interception on his opponent’s final possession.


The first-ever Lady Lions soccer match is held in Strawberry Stadium. The team celebrates their August 23 debut on the facility’s turf by defeating Jackson State University, and they eventually become a fresh staple of Strawberry Stadium. They make their full-time move to the facility for their home matches prior to the 2015 season.

Strawberry Stadium also witnesses a momentous year in Southeastern’s football history. On November 16, a win against Sam Houston State University clinches the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA FCS playoffs. Southeastern then secures its first football conference championship since 1961 with a 51-27 win over Nicholls State University on November 2. A month later, on December 7, playoff football makes its debut at Strawberry Stadium as Southeastern defeats Sam Houston State University in a second-round game.


Over 10,070 fans storm the stadium for the River Bell Classic on November 21, becoming the second-largest crowd in program history. Over a week later, spectators witness the return of playoff football to Strawberry Stadium as the Lions triumph over Villanova University and a school-record three players—CJ Turner, Javon Conner, and Bransen Schwebel—all top 100 yards receiving.

The rampant rise of COVID-19 throughout the world halts all fall Southeastern athletic competitions, including football, along with other annual large celebrations in Strawberry Stadium, such as the traditional school year kick-off party Strawberry Jam.

But there is no stopping the roar, and Strawberry Stadium’s story still has many chapters ahead that are waiting to unfold among both current and future generations. As the sounds of football and soccer practice continue to reverberate across its evergreen field and throughout its history-steeped walls, with players fiercely readying themselves for the return of competition and victory, Strawberry Stadium remains a steadfast reminder of the indomitable Lion Spirit, of the unforgettable times lived and shared within its steadfast structure over the past 83 years, and of the exciting moments that still lay ahead.

By Kemmler Chapple

Strengthening Business Outreach

Southeastern President John L. Crain and St. Tammany Corporation CEO Chris Masingill recently formalized a coordinated effort to expand access to services and resources to the business community in St. Tammany Parish through an innovative agreement. The partnership will provide enhanced technical assistance and increased collaborative efforts to best support businesses in St. Tammany Parish.

“We are proud to formally announce our ongoing partnership with the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern to continue the work we’ve been doing collectively to strengthen and streamline business resource opportunities for our existing businesses in St. Tammany,” said Masingill. “Economic development is a team sport and creating stronger alignment and collaborations means more efficient service delivery and responsiveness to businesses in St. Tammany Parish, specifically our small business community. It is important that businesses have consistent access to programs and resources to help meet their needs, especially as we all continue to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 public health crisis.”

“One of the hallmarks of effective regional universities is a close alignment of the mission of the institution and the needs of the region,” said Crain. “An integral part of the mission of Southeastern is to support economic development across our region, which includes St. Tammany Parish. The award-winning Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern is one of the university’s most effective means by which we bring this part of our mission to life. Through this agreement with St. Tammany Corporation, I am thrilled to affirm Southeastern’s commitment to support economic and business development in St. Tammany Parish. I look forward to continuing to expand and enhance our support and services for businesses located here in conjunction with our partners at St. Tammany Corporation.”

Through this agreement, partners will work toward accomplishing specific outcomes, with the overarching goal being stronger businesses, more jobs, and a resilient economy. Both organizations have an interest in strategically aligning support for the St. Tammany Parish small business community. St. Tammany Corporation will serve as the primary partner in St. Tammany Parish with LSBDC. St. Tammany Corporation and the LSBDC will promote the joint efforts established under the agreement.

“Southeastern’s Small Business Development Center has been working closely with St. Tammany Parish Development District for over 20 years,” said Director of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center Bill Joubert. “When St. Tammany Corporation was formed, Chris Masingill reached out to formalize our relationship and articulate the ways to leverage our resources for St. Tammany businesses to continue benefitting from our collective efforts. From projects and training to individual one-on-one business consulting, our center stands ready to assist the community.”

The agreement establishes a framework for both agencies to facilitate its commitment to move relationships with business and industry beyond a transactional level, but truly build relationships, partnerships, and coalitions that are transformational, creating an environment in which  businesses can grow and people and communities in St. Tammany can thrive.

Artificial Intelligence meets Higher Education in Sales Training Competition

At a time when some students were quarantined, isolated, zooming and/or learning behind masks, they were able to get the attention they needed from their professors with the help of Alex Taylor, who happens to be an artificially intelligent customer bot in a simulation called RNMKRS (pronounced “Rainmakers”). 

Southeastern students learned and practiced professional sales skills and communication in the fall semester by selling to Alex, who listens, adapts, and responds as students use voice activation on their mobile phones via an app to train virtually. The training ultimately led to a worldwide sales competition, where employers like Dell, Gartner, TTi, EMI, and YRC Worldwide recruited students for jobs.  

“Fifty-nine schools from the US, Canada, and Germany for a total of 2,176 students competed,” said Dr. Stefanie Boyer, RNMKRS co-founder, and Bryant University professor.   

Real-time scoring and feedback allowed coaches to see how their students were doing as they were practicing building rapport, empathy and trust with the customer bot—all from their mobile phone.

Directed by Southeastern Professors Dr. Tará Lopez and Dr. April Kemp, the following Southeastern students finished among the top in the competition:

Top 10%: Mckay Rayborn, Sabir Hishamuddin (Overall, Southeastern College of Business Winner)

Top 20%: Breanne Choate, Colby Ford, and Darnell Butler

Top 30%: Aubin Brian, Katherine Lively, Kirstyn Garland, Michael Rivera, Preston Gautreau, Phillip Mosher, and Sami Madona

For more information about Southeastern’s Sales Program, visit

Creating a Use for Old Christmas Trees

Southeastern is again asking area citizens to give the environment a gift after Christmas this year. Discarded Christmas trees can be dropped off and used for wetland restoration rather than throwing them out with the trash.

“We can put the old Christmas trees to work in our area marshland while also reducing the waste stream going into landfills,” said Rob Moreau, manager of Southeastern’s Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station located on Pass Manchac between Lakes Pontchartrain and Maurepas.

Although grant funding from the state for Christmas tree recycling in many areas ended years ago, local partners stepped up to keep the project going. This marks the 26th straight year Southeastern has conducted its recycled tree program. Moreau depends on volunteers and students to deploy the trees in the Manchac wetlands, and those groups were in short supply last year due to the pandemic. Therefore, he relied more on the Turtle Cove staff, mainly graduate students, to deploy the trees in various areas of the Manchac Swamp. It is estimated that approximately 40,000 trees have been deployed through the Southeastern program during the 26-year period.

Southeastern scientists and volunteers at Turtle Cove use the discarded trees to help build up marshland in areas that have been impacted by erosion and other factors, said Moreau.

Moreau explained that the trees will be used in a variety of ways, including ongoing research on the trees’ effects on helping to fill in test logging ditches, creating new habitats for wildlife and, of course, helping to control erosion along various shorelines, most recently occurring on Galva Canal and in areas around the research station itself on Pass Manchac and the boatshed/parking lot area at Galva Canal.

This practice also provides hands-on environmental education opportunities for students and other volunteers who help with the project.

Collaborating in the project for the sixth consecutive year is the Southeastern Sustainability Center on North Oak Street, which will serve as a drop-off point for area residents to leave their used Christmas trees. Other primary partners include the city of Hammond and Middendorf’s Restaurant in Manchac. Several local tree farms and other businesses usually jump in on the action as well in terms of providing left over trees.

Trees can be dropped off through Mardi Gras from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hammond Maintenance facility, located at 18104 Hwy. 190 next to Piggly Wiggly Supermarket. Trees should be dropped off using the gate on Falcon Drive next to Piggly Wiggly. The Southeastern Sustainability Center, located at 2101 North Oak Street, is collecting trees through the end of the month from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Friday. Moreau said a Turtle Cove trailer drop-off site will also be maintained at Middendorf’s Restaurant.

“The city of Hammond will again provide transport of collected trees to the Turtle Cove Galva Canal parking lot area in Manchac, where they will be stored until they are deployed in the marshes in the spring,” Moreau said. “Small groups of students and volunteers will socially distance and wear masks to help deploy the trees, unless of course the pandemic conditions dictate otherwise.”

No flocked trees will be accepted, and all trees should be stripped of any ornaments, lights, tinsel, stands, nails and screws, etc.

“This greatly helps our efforts to get the trees quickly deployed,” Moreau said.

For more information, contact Moreau at or visit the website at

Donations to help support the activity can be sent by check payable to Southeastern Foundation—c/o Turtle Cove and mailed to Southeastern, Box 10585, Hammond, LA 70402.

Spring 2021 Community Music School Registration Now Open

Southeastern’s Community Music School is accepting registrations for its Spring 2021 session, which begins January 25.

Registration will remain open throughout the semester, however registrations received after January 18 will incur a $20 late fee.

The 13-week spring semester will offer individual lessons on various instruments and voice to students of all ages at three locations – Southeastern’s main campus in Hammond, the Southeastern Livingston Center in Walker, and Northshore Technical Community College in Lacombe.

In addition to individual lessons, opportunities for music theory classes and ensemble formation are also available upon request, said CMS Director Jivka Duke. Students will be able to choose whether their lessons will take place in person, online, or a combination of both. Instructors will continue to adhere to all of the social distancing and sanitizing guidelines the university is undertaking in order to ensure the safest possible environment for students’ music training, Duke added.

“We look forward to continuing our mission of providing a safe and encouraging environment for our young musicians to learn, grow and thrive in their art. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we remain enthusiastic about providing high quality music education,” said Duke. “This spring we plan to host our annual Spring Festival and Concerto Competition and to have the Northlake Community Band resume rehearsal and concerts.”

Duke said the generous sponsorship of First Guaranty Bank will allow the CMS once again to offer discounted tuition to students who received reduced or free lunch at their schools during the 2016-2017 academic year.

For more information about CMS programs and general registration, call 985-549-5502, or visit the CMS website at