International Students Welcomed to the Community

Local businessman Jonathan Wong recently treated Southeastern’s international students to dinner at the Mezzanine Event Center. The purpose of the dinner was to connect international students to the Hammond community and to discuss student possibilities, as well as concerns.

“It was really a nice evening, opening with a welcome on behalf of Southeastern from Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale and a welcome on behalf of the City of Hammond from Mayor Pete Panepinto, who gave everyone in attendance his phone number to allow for better, open communication,” said Office for Student Engagement Interim Director Marjorie Parker. “The warm welcomes concluded with a message from the host himself, Jonathan Wong. He discussed his desire to have a better connection with international students and engage them in the Hammond area.”

A complimentary full-course dinner of fried fish, red beans and rice and Caesar salad was provided for over 100 students in attendance, as well as international faculty and staff. Southeastern also provided its shuttle service to transport the students to and from the dinner.

Chefs Evening

Every spring since 1984, hundreds of people from across the region have flooded onto Southeastern’s campus for a bountiful evening of food, wine, shopping, and comradery. This great mix combines in perfect balance to create an unforgettable night—and a powerful positive impact.

Chefs Evening, organized by the Southeastern Foundation, has established itself over the past 35 years to become one of Southeastern’s most beloved—and tastiest—annual traditions.

Some visitors extend the experience by attending the more intimate precursor event, the President’s Toast. This power hour of hors d’oeuvre delicacies and specially chosen wines in the campus residence of President Dr. John L. Crain serves as an appetizer for the main course.

Chef's evening

For the main event, the Student Union Ballroom is elegantly decorated for the evening, and surrounding the room’s border dozens of popular restaurants and caterers proudly present their culinary creations. The air is filled with both sweet and savory aromas, while bartenders freely poor fine wine and cocktails.

Chef's eveningIn a side space outside of the ballroom, where a view of sunset over Southeastern’s campus pops from a wall of windows, attendees are met with a shopper’s paradise. Tables are covered with a diverse array of silent auction packages that range from jewelry and art to opportunities for exploration and adventure. A table of raffle items is also present, giving attendees an additional way to take home a shiny reminder of the evening.

After guests have enjoyed a round or two of drinks and a few warm bites, an emcee takes center stage and the energy in the room is elevated even more as patrons begin taking part in the high-end live auction.

Rounding out the event is an awards presentation for the best cuisine of the night. As attendees sample all that is on offer, they have the opportunity to vote on both their favorite main dish and dessert. Each chef brings their “A” game in hopes of taking home a coveted Taster’s Choice Award. The 2019 Best Entrée recognition was garnered by Downtown Hammond’s Blackened Brew for seared sesame tuna on a fried wonton with a wasabi crème fraiche and teriyaki honey drizzle, while The Cakery captured Best Dessert for presenting four different moist and flavorful signature cakes.

The food, drinks, bidding, and conversation continues throughout the remainder of the evening, creating a special night out in the heart of Southeastern’s campus.

Chef's evening

But while those in attendance are savoring all that the event has to offer, they are also contributing to and making an impact on something much bigger than one celebration, and even bigger than the University itself. They are helping bring to life the dreams of current and future Southeastern students and supporting the success of emerging graduates. Proceeds from Chefs Evening benefit vital student scholarships and academic programs.

“Chefs Evening has become a tradition of the University and an essential part of the Southeastern Foundation’s mission to secure financial resources for the critical needs of our students and academic programs,” said Vice President for University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale. “Students benefit from Chefs Evening in many ways. Funds raised help provide tuition support through scholarships, academic enhancement and career preparation programs, research opportunities, and state-of-the-art tools and facilities that promote the best learning opportunities. Contributions from Chefs Evening help elevate our students’ competitive edge.”

chef's eveningScholarships help students better focus on their studies, and can even be the financial tipping point to help them complete their college education—potentially forever changing the course of a life. Other students are able to improve their grades and grasp previously elusive concepts through extracurricular tutoring, and are better prepared for the job market thanks to resume and skill-building support. Students with a hunger for discovery and research are allowed to follow their passions, in the process contributing to not only their future careers but our universal body of knowledge.

Better facilities and equipment allow for the expansion of programs and hands-on learning. One example is the purchase of new high-definition and remote studio equipment for the  Southeastern Channel, allowing Southeastern television, video, and film students to gain real-world experience. By increasing their skills and familiarity with this now industry-standard equipment, these students will be met with broader and stronger job prospects upon graduation.

chefs eveningThrough sponsorships, ticket sales, auction proceeds, and raffles, the 2019 Chefs Evening, with an attendance of over 525, raised more than $130,000. Since it first began in 1984, the event has pulled in millions of dollars in support funds. These big numbers allow for huge impact.

Yet there are still more ways in which Chefs Evening creates positive vibes. The event promotes and brings together the rich culinary traditions and innovative chefs of Southeast Louisiana, with a particular focus on the sometimes overlooked Northshore area. This spotlight on one of the region’s most unique, beloved cultural aspects helps local businesses and chefs showcase their talents, residents embrace a sense of pride in both their heritage and home, and visitors discover the true culinary heights that the region has to offer.

chef's evening

“Chefs Evening is more than a great night out within our community; it’s also a great way to positively impact Southeastern, which is an anchoring economic as well as educational entity in the region,” commented Todd Burrall, senior vice president of government and institutional banking for Regions Bank, the Premier Sponsor of the 2019 event.

chef's evening

Food brings people together. And Chefs Evening serves as a highly anticipated annual event for people from across the region and beyond to come together and share in their love of good food—and love for both Southeastern and the community in which it resides. From students to restaurants and individual guests to the community as a whole, everyone benefits.

The popular Southeastern tradition of Chefs Evening continues to live on and grow. March 29, 2020, will mark the event’s 36th year—and another opportunity for everyone to experience some of the region’s best food while creating a positive, far-reaching impact in support of Southeastern and its students.

For tickets to the next Chefs Evening, visit, and stay tuned to Southeastern Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter pages for more information. For questions, press inquiries, or to participate as a sponsor or vendor, email


By Sheri Gibson

Student Honored by Emmy Awards

For the seventh straight year, a student at the Southeastern Channel, Southeastern’s educational access station, has been honored with college division Student Production Award recognition given by the Emmy Awards’ Suncoast Region of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Dylan Domangue of Houma was selected as a nominee in the “Talent” category for his On-Camera Composite of anchoring and reporting work for the national award-winning student sportscast “The Big Game,” along with his play-by-play, color analyst and sideline reporting work for Southeastern football and baseball live game broadcasts.

Domangue was honored in the Emmy Suncoast Region comprised of television stations and production companies in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Puerto Rico. The Southeastern Channel has been named a winner by the Emmys 17 times with 63 nominations.

“To be nominated for an Emmy and placed in the same category with others in the country who are thriving in television is truly an honor like no other,” Domangue said.

Domangue was one of only two students nominated in the “Talent” category.

“I honestly believe I was nominated for an Emmy because of the supporting crew around me,” Domangue continued. “Every day I go to work with those who want the best for me and want to see me succeed. Learning and being supported by them allows me to thrive at the Southeastern Channel.”

Domangue serves as producer, director, anchor and reporter for “The Big Game” sportscast. He writes, shoots and edits all of his own stories, along with providing voiceover narration.

“Recognition by the Emmys is the highest honor you can receive in television,” said Southeastern Channel General Manager Rick Settoon. “Dylan is very deserving because he’s so skilled and natural on camera, and his reporting, anchoring and game broadcast announcing are stellar. He has also won national awards for his technical prowess, from videography to game broadcast directing. Dylan’s talent, work ethic and attitude set him apart, and for the past three years, he has been one of the best student leaders we have ever had at the Southeastern Channel. We’re so excited for him.”

The Southeastern Channel has won over 400 national, international and regional awards in the past 16 years.

“The Southeastern Channel allows us to complete projects in and out of class to enhance our skills in on-camera talent, making promos, setting up interviews, formatting stories, and shooting and editing,” Domangue said. “Under the station manager, Rick Settoon, workers at the Southeastern Channel have the ability to enhance their skills by being on the many shows we have and producing packages for them. With every show and story I do, I try to do better than I did the previous time, and it’s because we are given the chance to succeed every day.

“If any student in the South and really throughout the entire country wants a professional job in the TV industry, there is no better school to attend as your stepping stone than Southeastern.”

The Southeastern Channel can be seen on Charter Spectrum Cable Channel 199 in Tangipahoa, Livingston, St. Helena and St. Tammany parishes. The live 24/7 webcast and video on demand can be seen at The channel is also available on AppleTV and social media.

Southeastern Dean Selected as Higher Education Professional of the Year

Southeastern College of Education Dean Paula Summers Calderon was recently selected by the Louisiana Council for Exceptional Children as the Higher Education Professional of the Year. A resident of Baton Rouge, Calderon will be honored by the organization in January.

The Louisiana Council for Exceptional Children Higher Education Professional of the Year Award recognizes a professional who currently provides direct services to students with exceptionalities. The Professional of the Year is an outstanding member of the education profession whose work exemplifies the best of special education services. His or her work reflects significant educational success for students, continues professional development, and the highest standards of educational quality.

“As the Dean of the College of Education, Dr. Calderon has been a significant advocate for the Lions Connected Program, an inclusive, comprehensive post-secondary transition program at Southeastern for students with intellectual disabilities,” said Director of Lions Connected Gerlinde Beckers. “She has gone above and beyond to help Lions Connected become the outstanding program that it is for college students with intellectual disabilities. Dr. Calderon never says, ‘No.’ She says, ‘We will find a way.’”

The Council for Exceptional Children is an international organization that sets the standard for high-quality education for individuals with exceptionalities. Beckers said the CEC is known as the primary source for advocacy, ethics, standards, resources and professional development that directly impacts the lives of individuals with disabilities.

Enhancing Our Wetlands with Recycled Christmas Trees

Southeastern is asking area citizens to give the environment a gift after Christmas this year. Discarded Christmas trees can be dropped off and used for a 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 have stepped up with donations to fund the collection of trees and make the project possible. This marks the 25th straight year Southeastern has conducted its recycled tree program. Moreau depends on volunteers and students to deploy the trees in the Manchac wetlands. It is estimated that approximately 40,000 trees have been deployed through the Southeastern program since that time.

Southeastern scientists 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 said 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, creation of Christmas tree “mounds” to create habitats for wildlife and, of course, help to control erosion along various shorelines, most recently occurring on Galva Canal, and in areas around the research station itself on Pass Manchac.

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 fifth 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 partners include the city of Hammond and Middendorf’s Restaurant in Manchac, and a Christmas tree supplier, whose farm is located in North Carolina, for their leftover trees.

Trees can now also be taken to Pennington’s Hardware and Screenprinting, located at 407 Highway 22 W. in Madisonville.

Trees can be dropped off through Mardi Gras from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hammond Maintenance facility, 18104 Hwy. 190, next to Piggly Wiggly Super Market. The Southeastern Sustainability Center, 2101 North Oak Street, will collect trees through the end of the month from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 to 10 a.m. on Friday, and Pennington’s Hardware and Screenprinting will accept trees during the same time period during normal business hours daily. Moreau said a Turtle Cove trailer drop-off site is also maintained at Middendorf’s Restaurant.

He said 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.

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.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting Moreau at or by visiting the website at

Donations to help support the activity can be sent by check payable to “Friends of Turtle Cove” and mailed to Southeastern Box 10585, Hammond, LA 70402 or can be made by credit card by visiting the Turtle Cove web site and under the “Friends and Donors” link.

Click here to watch the Fox 44 news coverage.