At the midst of festivities, the Hyatt Regency Hotel of New Orleans was busy with Southernites taking care of business. 

“I’ve never felt more at home around Jaguars, than I do here in this meeting today,” were the words that the President of Grambling State University, Richard Joseph Gallot, Jr. spoke at Friday’s annual Southern University System Board of Supervisors Meeting. 

Starting the morning, Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education, Kim Hunter Reed greeted the members of the board with salutations full of sentiments about pushing higher education in Louisiana to the next level. 

The presentation emphasized the large deficits and gaps that Louisiana has in higher education, but also shone a light on statistics that makes those gaps a reality for the mass of the population. 

“In 2009, the state paid about 70% of the cost for educating our students. In 2019, the families pay about 67-70% of what it costs to educate students … We need to see higher education as an investment, not an expenditure,” Reed informed the crowd. 

Echoing the Commissioner’s sentiments, newly elected State Senate Representative, Cleo Fields introduced Attorney John H. Carmouche of the Talbot, Carmouche & Marcello Law Firm, as a partner of Southern University; someone willing to go to extraordinary lengths to ensure the success of the university and students alike.

“God sends special people, at special times, for special purposes,” said Fields as Carmouche approached the podium, with an evident check in tow. 

“Being that you all will be one of the only collegiate bands participating in the Rose Bowl Parade (Pasadena, CA), I pray this will help out getting you all there safe and sound,” Carmouche said as he presented Director of Bands, Kedrick Taylor, with a check for $100,000.

As a graduate of the Southern University Law Center, Carmouche, wanted to ensure that he gave back in a way that the university could see almost immediate change. 

He went on to say, “I was told by Senator Fields that the athletic department has to rent a vehicle for equipment every time they travel … and I don’t think that should happen anymore. So I have committed to buying [a] truck wrapped as [Athletic Director, Roman Banks] sees fit so that the university no longer incurs those costs.” 

As the spirit of giving lingered in the room, the family of the late Marquita Christy returned before the board to present another scholarship to a Southern University Law Center (SULC) through the MARQ My Words Foundation.

The MARQ My Words Foundation is “a newly recognized nonprofit organization located in Louisiana, established to honor the legacy of Marquita D. Christy and continue the mission to inspire African-American communities to seek knowledge of legal rights, redefine workplace standards, and adapt healthy lifestyle whilst pursuing higher education.”

Marquita Christy is an alumna of Southern University, where she received her Bachelors of Science Degree in Psychology, and attended the SULC until her untimely death.

The MARQ My Words Foundation has taken up an ambassador program that allows young girls to have a chance at professionalism and leadership before adulthood. 

Malika Lewis (Whitecastle, LA), Shyina Littles (Donaldsonville, LA),  and L’Rae Celestine (New Orleans, LA) are middle schoolers that partake in the program. They were able to present the members of the Board of Supervisors with limited edition collector’s coin. 

“We set a good example, we show leadership and kindness, and we are junior ambassadors of the program,” said Lewis. 

To find out more about the MARQ My Words Foundation or become a partner, visit marqmywords.org

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