Drive to Win

Southeastern student Darian Boesch has mastered the formula for combining his business education and passion for speed—becoming an NHRA World Champion.

Darian Boesch
Darian Boesch

From video or pick-up games to art, yoga, or getting lost in the great outdoors, most students have a hobby, a way to unwind and recharge at the end of a long day or week. But Southeastern senior and Ponchatoula resident Darian Boesch has accelerated his hobby to another level.

Outside of his studies, Darian channels his time and energy into racecar driving. At the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Finals held in Las Vegas this past fall, engines and spectators roared as Darian tore across the finish line in his carbon fiber Jerry Haas Camaro SS to become the NHRA World Champion in the Top Sportsman category. This would be an epic achievement for anyone, but for someone only 21 years old and a fulltime college student it’s even rarer.

“For me, it’s the biggest thing you can do in racing,” Darian said of the competition. “Everybody shoots for the world championship. Whether it’s Formula-1, NASCAR, or any other kind of competition, you want to have a world championship and have that big ‘#1’ on everything.”

Racing is in Darian’s blood. His dad, Mario Boesch, began racing when he was close to Darian’s age and introduced him to the sport. Darian began competing in Jr. Dragsters when he was 7, earning 18 championships in that category alone.

Darian Boesch
Darian and his father, Mario Boesch

“Pretty much my earliest memory is in the shop,” said Darian. “One of our cars was in there, and my dad had just put the motor back in. He fired it up and actually let me crack the throttle a couple of times, so I got to hear the motor rev up… And from there I have not looked back.”

While Darian is mainly the one behind the wheel while on the track, his family is part of his secret weapon for success. In honor of this, their self-funded team is named MKD (Mario, Karen, and Darian) Racing. Mario, a New Orleans business owner who also still occasionally competes with the team, pitches in with tuning the cars and driving the team trailer to all of the events, most of which are at least nine hours away. Since weather plays a significant role in how the cars run, one of Karen’s biggest roles is managing the computer weather acquisitions. “A five-degree temperature difference, or the humidity or density altitude, makes a big difference,” said Darian.

Darian BoeschAnd as for Darian, racing takes much more than just jumping in the car, and for vehicles to be pushed hard and continue to perform at such a top level they take a lot of maintenance. While the fabrication, painting, and motor and transmission assembly are outsourced to professionals, putting the cars together and preparing them for racing on a weekly basis is mostly up to Darian—whether it’s changing out motors, fluids, or various parts and pieces at his home racing garages.

MKD Racing owns and maintains a total of six competition vehicles, including four dragsters, the Camaro, and a Top Sportsman S-10 truck/grudge car.

Darian BoeschDarian has reached 235 mph in the dragster and 230 in the Camaro, but in NHRA, there is also much more to being behind the wheel than crossing the finish line the fastest. Competitors must set a predicted finish time and come in as close to it as possible, and if they cross faster than it they lose.

“To do that I’m not actually looking down the track,” explained Darian. “I’m looking at my opponent the whole way. You want to make the race as close as possible. You can use the gas pedal, the brake pedal, the parachutes—anything to get as close as possible without going too fast. Generally my car can go about 230 mph, but I usually cross the finish line at about 205-210 because I’m killing so much ET (elapsed time) to go slower. A lot of times I’ll get to the finish line a foot or two in front of my opponent, which is hard to get that close at 230 mph.”

“Basically, it’s like a 200-mile-per-hour chess match,” he said. “They’re making moves. You’re making moves. It’s all about who can outsmart the other one going that fast. And you have 6 seconds to figure it out.”

Darian and his parents regularly travel together across the country for races, whether it’s Florida, the Carolinas, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada, or everything in between. Doing this and preparing the cars—in addition to working for his family’s business—takes a lot of time, but Darian remains on track to graduate in December 2021.

Along with learning how to fine-tune his time-management skills, Darian noted that the support from his professors has been instrumental in helping him to academically succeed. Not only have they been helpful in working with him if he needs to miss a class or turn in an assignment or test early due to travel for a competition, he said that most actually get excited when they learn of his level of racing, even before the National Championship win. Their personal support and the proximity of campus to his home garages have allowed him to pursue his dream of racing, not to mention becoming a national champion, while earning a quality education.

He has also been able to translate what he has learned in his studies into his racing career. “My business administration major has made me think about how to make things function a little bit better,” said Darian. “Some of my management classes, for example, have taught me how to make things run smoother and to cut out parts you don’t need, which has really helped a lot, not just in terms of getting things done better with racing, but also with work. Every little extra you can cut off that will save you time or money helps; it’s so much work, you need every little bit you can get. There’s definitely a lot that I can apply from my classes into this.”

Darian BoeschAs for work and the future, Darian plans on taking on more with his father’s company when he graduates, eventually running it. But he is far from done with racing. With one World Championship under his belt, he is revved up to keep firing for more, such as winning the World Championship in two different cars in the same year.

“I have a very long future ahead of me in this,” he said.

To learn more about MKD Racing, visit

By Sheri Gibson


Leaving a Legacy: James McClimans

Southeastern was home to alumnus James “Jim” McClimans (class of ’58) from a very young age, and it remained a place to which he contributed and supported throughout his life.

Jay McClimans
Jay McClimans

Jim was the son of Dr. Jay W. McClimans and Martha Orr McClimans, who raised their family in Hammond down the street from Southeastern’s beautiful campus. In 1942, Jay began serving as a mathematics professor at Southeastern. He eventually became the University’s first department head of mathematics.

“Our entire family went to athletic and cultural events at the college,” Jim once said, reflecting on his childhood memories with his sister Mary Lee McClimans Bass.

When he moved to Hammond as a young child, Jim began his journey at Southeastern’s Laboratory School in second grade. He continued his education on Southeastern’s campus, attending Southeastern High School and graduating in 1953. This all happened within the same hallways as what is now McClimans Hall, which was at that time the education building.

After graduating high school, he continued to pursue his education by studying engineering at both Texas A&M and LSU and building his work experience with Chance Vaught Aircraft. In 1956, he returned home to Southeastern and, following his father’s passion, majored in mathematics. In 1958, Jim graduated with a bachelor of science in mathematics and a minor in physics.

After graduating from Southeastern, Jim began his career at Shell Oil Company as a geophysicist, gaining experience with the oil and gas company. He traveled around the world managing projects for Shell Oil Company and became the manager of Geophysics Research at Shell Development Company. This led him back to Louisiana, working as the chief geophysicist of the Southeast region.

Jim McClimans
Jim McClimans

Jim had many career achievements, including record Shell Exploration and Production Company profits from the Michigan Play in the 1970s, significant commercial discoveries in Cameroon and Syria, and in 1989 record Shell (U.S.) discoveries in the deep water Gulf.

On July 24, 1981, Jay W. McClimans Hall was dedicated in honor of his father Jay’s commitment to education and support of the mathematics program.

Jim carried on his parents’ love and support of Southeastern throughout his life, making his own mark by giving back to the university that helped set him on a path to lifelong success and breaking down financial barriers for current and future generations. Over the years he positively impacted the lives of countless students through his philanthropy.
Leaving a Legacy

Southeastern named Jim the Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Science and Technology in 2006 in recognition of his success and contributions to the community. He established significant endowments in STEM, including support for the University’s Mathematics Department to continue to honor his father’s legacy.

About his support for Southeastern, Jim previously said, “Marilyn [my wife] and I initiated this gift to Southeastern in the form of retirement fund assets as a way to honor my father. It is a symbol of the love my family has for this fine institution.”

Jim passed away July 15, 2020, but many can learn from his example of hard work, dedication, and giving back to the community that helped shape his future.

“Sharing a friendship with Jim was one of the greatest blessings of my career,” said Vice President of University Advancement Wendy Lauderdale. “His devotion and commitment to Southeastern was evident in every initiative he supported. He will be greatly missed.”

The McClimans’ legacy will live on, especially through the ongoing learning within McClimans Hall across from historic Friendship Circle.

Jim and Marilyn McClimans
Jim and his wife, Marilyn McClimans

By Mary Grace Kelley

Nationally Ranked Information Technology Program

Southeastern’s Information Technology program has been ranked in the top 100 in the nation for affordability according to UniversityHQ. The organization provides students with the necessary resources to prepare and plan their career paths in their chosen fields and strives to present an objective, unbiased view of colleges so that students can set reasonable expectations and discover outstanding schools.

The only university in Louisiana included, Southeastern’s program was ranked 59th in the nation. With 500+ students and an enrollment that has more than doubled over the past decade, Southeastern’s Computer Science and Information Technology programs are recognized as leaders among and as two of the state’s fastest-growing computing and information technology programs.

“We are immensely proud of the Information Technology program,” said John Burris, Computer Science department head. “This ranking took into account Southeastern’s low tuition cost combined with factors such as retention and graduation rates. However, with information technology graduates having an average starting salary over $50,000, the program is more than just affordable, it is a great investment.”

Southeastern’s programs offer concentrations with an emphasis on scientific computing, business, and data science, as well as a master’s degree in integrated science and technology with computer science and data science areas of study. The program also provides opportunities to connect with faculty for undergraduate research.

To gather data, UniversityHQ uses government sources, which are unbiased, consistent, and reliable. Each college in the rankings is assessed using the same data sources so that the comparisons are all even and consistent.

The criteria for ranking included cost of tuition, admission rate, retention rate, graduation rate, graduating salary, number of programs offered, online programs offered, loan default rate, diplomas awarded, and percentage of students receiving financial aid.

For more information about the Computer Science and Information Technology programs, email or call 985-549-5740.

The full listing can be accessed here.

Simplifying Admission for Fall 2022 and Beyond

During a recent high school counselor workshop, Southeastern announced a new admissions opportunity for first-time students called “Fast Track.” Beginning in the fall of 2022, high school students with a minimum 2.50 GPA will be automatically admissible to the university through Fast Track. As an expansion of the university’s test-flexible approach, ACT scores will not be required for admission.

For Southeastern, test-flexible refers to the types of test scores accepted for English and math placement, including Accuplacer, ALEKS, ACT, Pre-ACT, PSAT, SAT, and LEAP. Meeting eligibility requirements for TOPS and institutional scholarships at Southeastern will still require ACT/SAT scores.

“As a leader in higher education, we are committed to serving the needs of our region by providing access to an outstanding post-secondary education and college experience,” said President John L. Crain. “Fast Track will allow us to provide earlier admission decisions for students, be flexible in using multiple potential measures to place them in appropriate courses of study and shepherd their success through academic support systems, including academic skill-building coursework and corequisite models for math and English when appropriate.”

While the existing admission criteria for the university remains in place, the additional option of admitting based solely on the high school GPA allows for greater student opportunities and aligns with the mission of Southeastern, said Director of Admissions Anthony Ranatza.

“As the pandemic continues to disrupt some of the traditional admissions processes, such as securing ACT or SAT scores, Fast Track will allow Southeastern to provide faster admission decisions without having to rely on these scores,” Ranatza explained.

St. Scholastica Academy College Career Advisor Caroline Capps was delighted to hear about the program.

“As an alumna of such an innovative university,” said Capps, “I am excited to learn that Southeastern continues to seek out unique and creative ways to provide opportunities for students.”