Southeastern confers degrees

Employee Spotlight: Candance Thomas

Annual Day of Giving set May 20


New Media & Animation cited again

Public Information recognized

Student named top broadcaster


Kinesiology names outstanding alumnus

Breland murders highlighted

Southeastern in the news



This will be the last ByLion until June 8. For the rest of the summer, ByLion will be distributed every other week. The normal weekly ByLion schedule will resume after Fall Convocation.


Southeastern confers degrees on approximately 1,100
Southeastern conferred degrees on 1,166 graduates Saturday, May 16, at the university’s spring commencement exercises.
     One of Louisiana’s top educational leaders addressed the graduating students. Patrice B. Pujol, superintendent of the Ascension Parish School System and the 2015 Louisiana Superintendent of the Year, spoke at the 10 a.m. event held at the University Center. The system is comprised of 21,500 K-12 students in 28 schools in the parish.
     Pujol received her recognition as top superintendent last November from the Louisiana Association of School Executives and the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents. The award is given each year to the superintendent who demonstrates excellence in education, leadership and district school performance.
     Under her leadership, the school system has become one of the top performing districts in the state. The district recently received an “A” rating for the third consecutive year and improved its District Performance score to rank No. 4 overall among public school districts in the state.
     Candidates for associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees were honored. The university recognized its first class of students graduating with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, a relatively new graduate program at Southeastern. Being hooded at the ceremony were Lori Lemoine, New Orleans; Adriana L. Taylor, Covington; Laura K. Martin, Lisa H. Nicoletti-Wack, and Heather L. Surcouf, all of Slidell; Jean Genzale-Bertrand, Tickfaw, Kathyryn Mizell Lyons, Bogalusa; and Lisa C. Bayhi, Gonzales.      
     In his welcome, Crain noted that the 1,166 individuals being recognized at commencement included 419 men and 747 women who were receiving 14 different degrees; and representatives from 18 states and 11 countries. Five candidates received the doctorate in educational leadership.
     The university awarded its highest academic honor, the President’s Medal for Academic Excellence, to 13 students with the highest cumulative grade point average in the university’s five colleges. This year, all medal recipients achieved a 4.0 GPA.    
     Medal recipients were:
     College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – English major Rebekah Leigh Grommon of Slidell and general studies major Kayla Anne Hill of Walker.
     College of Business – management major Patrick Raphael Becnel of Belle Chase and finance major Yuhang Wang of China.
     College of Education and Human Development – middle school education major Allison Danielle Martinez of St. Amant; early/childhood education major Angelle Elise Roddy of Ethel; and middle school education major Laken Nicole Sciortino of Hammond.
     College of Nursing and Health Sciences –social work major Victoria Anne Bruno of Hammond; communication sciences and disorders major Andie Carissa Bush of Holden; kinesiology major Crystal Ann Gonzalez of Hammond; and kinesiology major Erin Alexandra St. Pierre of Larose.
     College of Science and Technology – chemistry major Suraj Kumar Ayer of Nepal and computer science major Pratyush Charan Pradhanang of Nepal.

1)President's Medal Winners2)Commencement speaker

1) PRESIDENT’S MEDAL WINNERS – Southeastern awarded its highest academic honor, the President’s Medal for Academic Excellence, to 13 students with the highest cumulative grade point average in the university’s five colleges. Pictured front, from left, are Pratyush Pradhanang, Nepal; Yuhang Wang, China; Crystal  Gonzalez, Hammond; Andie C. Bush, Holden; Angelle E. Roddy, Ethel; Rebekah L. Gromman, Slidell; and Victoria Bruno, Hammond; second row, from left, are Patrice Pujol, Ascension Parish Schools Superintendent; Southeastern President John L. Crain; Suraj Ayer, Nepal; Erin A. St. Pierre, Larose; Kayla A. Hill, Walker; Patrick R. Becnel, Belle Chasse; Laken N. Sciortino, Hammond; and state Rep. Steve Pugh. Not shown is Allison D. Martinez, St. Amant.

2) ADDRESSING GRADS — Patrice B. Pujol, superintendent of Ascension Parish School System, addresses Southeastern students at commencement on Saturday. Pujol earned her bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Southeastern.


Employee Spotlight: Candance Thomas
Candance ThomasCandance Thomas, outreach specialist with Upward Bound, was selected for the Employee Spotlight Award (Unclassified Staff) during the recent competition for the award held during Employee Appreciation days last month.
     Other recipients of the award are Linda Alford of Athletics (Classified Staff) of Athletics and Sarah Clifton, (faculty), Department of Mathematics.
     Candance was nominated by Wendy Stevens of Upward Bound, who praised Candance’s excellence in service and professionalism.
     “Candance is the glue in our department,” Stevens said. “She coordinates administration functions that are critical for successful operations of the Upward Bound programs. Her high standards and dependability allow our five independent programs to function smoothly.”
     “I am very elated by this news,” says Candance, a resident of Hammond. She has worked at Southeastern since 20013.
     “Candance is so dedicated to making sure that our students receive the services they need to be successful,” added Upward Bound Director Ron Abel.


Southeastern to hold First ‘Day of Giving’ May 20 with matched funds
Southeastern will host its first day of giving called “All in for Southeastern,” during which alumni, friends, students, supporters and community members can join together to support Southeastern in an online effort.
     “Donors can direct funds to specific areas of interest they would like to support when making an online donation,” said Interim Director of Annual Giving Lauren Williams. “Additionally, an anonymous donor has pledged $25,000 to match donations up to that level, so donors get a double bang for their support. Donations will be doubled.”
     Additional information is available at or at
     Donations can be made at anytime, but are encouraged between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday May 20.


Southeastern’s New Media & Animation program again cited as one of best in the South, nation
New Media and Animation ProgramThe New Media and Animation program at Southeastern has been recognized for the fourth consecutive year by Animation Career Review as one of the top animation and game design schools in the United States and the Southern region.
     Initiated in response to regional workforce demands in recent years and only a few years ago in the university’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts, the program was ranked 15th in the South and 47th nationwide by the web site.
   “This honor once again affirms the superb work being generated by the students and faculty in this dynamic segment of our art and design unit,” said Ken Boulton, interim head of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. “It is recognition that is highly deserved.”
     Professor John Valentino said the computer studios and other equipment available – including the addition of virtual reality equipment used in gaming and other art forms -- are among the best, providing students with valuable experience that easily translates into workforce skills. The program, he said, combines artistic talent with technical proficiency.
     ACR formulates its rankings by taking into account academic reputation, feedback from industry firms on the programs they value highly, the depth and breadth of the program, and geographic proximity to the industry’s leading firms. Also considered is the value of the program as it relates to tuition and indebtedness. The full review of the top programs in the South can be found at
CREATING IN 3-D – Nicholas Guillory of Slidell, a Southeastern senior majoring in New Media and Animation, uses the visual art lab’s new Oculus Rift headset in a virtual reality project he is developing while art Professor John Valentino checks his work on a monitor.


Southeastern wins graphic design awards
Michael TrahanThe Office of University Marketing and Communications was recognized for graphic design by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts with three Communicator Awards, including two first place Gold Awards of Excellence.
     Graphic designer Michael Trahan of Livingston was recognized with Gold Awards of Excellence for posters promoting the university’s opera performances of “La Perichole” and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” The full color posters included original illustrations by Trahan for each production.
     Trahan was also awarded a second place Silver Award of Distinction for the 2014-15 promotional brochure for Southeastern’s Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in the overall design category.
  “Michael’s work is always top notch, and his work on ‘La Perichole’ even more so because he only had about a week to come up with and execute the design -- and then he goes and wins a first place award for it,” said Charles Effler, director of Southeastern’s Opera/Music Theatre Workshop. “His design for ‘Sweeney Todd’ is nothing short of a masterpiece. All of the conductors for performing ensembles in the music division of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts feel privileged to have such a talented artist designing our posters and program art.”
   “In addition to utilizing the Columbia season brochure to advertise and sell season tickets in the region, I use it in talking with agents while at the American Performing Arts Presenters conference in New York in January,” said C. Roy Blackwood, Executive Director for the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts. “Every person who saw this brochure remarked on how beautiful and well-designed it is, and I concur whole-heartedly.”
   Founded by communication professionals over a decade ago, the Communicator Awards is an annual competition honoring the best in advertising, corporate communications, public relations and identity work for print, video, interactive and audio. With over 6,000 entries received from across the United States and around the world, the Communicator Awards is the largest and most competitive awards program honoring creative excellence for communications professionals.


Southeastern student named state’s top broadcaster by Broadcast Association
Paul RiveraFor the second consecutive year, a news anchor/reporter at the Southeastern Channel has been named the top student broadcaster in the state of Louisiana.
     Paul Rivera, a senior from Slidell, was named Student Broadcaster of the Year by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters (LAB) recently at its 2015 Prestige Awards luncheon in Baton Rouge.
     Rivera, a communications major with a concentration in electronic media, was selected over all other college undergraduate, graduate and high school students in television and radio from throughout the state by LAB, made up of all television and radio stations in Louisiana. Rivera was presented the award by LAB chair Sandy Breland, Raycom Media vice-president and former general manager of WVUE- FOX 8 in New Orleans, WWL-TV in New Orleans and WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge.
     “It’s a great honor because I was chosen out of all of the schools in Louisiana,” Rivera said. “When you receive an award like this one, you’re recognized with all of the news stations in Louisiana. To be recognized by an organization as prestigious as LAB, makes it a huge honor when you’re a college student.”
     It was only the second year the award has been given by LAB. Last year the Southeastern Channel’s Erika Ferrando of Mandeville, now a news reporter for KPLC-TV in Lake Charles, was named the first-ever winner. Last year at the Prestige Awards, Rivera was presented one of two Louisiana Association of Broadcasters scholarships worth $2,000 to further his studies as a student broadcast journalist.
     Rivera is an anchor, reporter and producer for the Southeastern Channel’s student newscast “Northshore News,” named one of the top four college television newscasts in the country by College Broadcasters, Inc. He recently won “Best in the South” recognition as “Best College Television Journalist” given by the Southeast Journalism Conference made up of all universities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. He also won first place in the SEJC onsite competition for “Best TV Anchor.”
     “The Southeastern Channel has helped me in so many aspects of broadcasting- from reporting, anchoring and producing to videography and editing,” Rivera said. “They have supported and guided me and given me the chance to show my work to organizations like the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters.”
   “We’re thrilled that Paul has been recognized as the top student broadcaster in the state, but I’m not really surprised,” said Rick Settoon, general manager of the Southeastern Channel. “Paul is an exceptional on-camera talent and an outstanding reporter-anchor. He has the necessary focus and drive along with that special commitment to excellence that will lead to great success in the television news industry.”
     Upon graduation Rivera will be looking for a job as a television news reporter at a television station somewhere in the country.

STATE’S TOP STUDENT BROADCASTER – Paul Rivera, a Southeastern senior from Slidell, was named Student Broadcaster of the Year by the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters recently at its 2015 Prestige Awards luncheon in Baton Rouge. It was only the second time that the LAB has bestowed the student award. A Southeastern Channel news anchor/reporter has won the award both years.


Kinesiology and Health Studies names Outstanding Alumnus of 2015
Samone CammonThe Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies has named Samone Cammon as Outstanding Alumnus of 2015.
     Cammon completed a BS in Sport Management at Southeastern in 2010.  While a student, she served as president of the Sport Management Association, worked with The Disposable Heroes Project’s 100 Mile Run in support of wounded and fallen veterans, and interned with the Hammond Host Committee for the LHSAA Top 28 Girls Basketball Tournament.
     She was recognized as the Outstanding Sport Management Graduate in 2009-2010. After graduation, Cammon began her career with The Wendy’s Company, beginning as marketing coordinator for new product initiatives in the Shreveport area, and advancing to marketing specialist for the Southeast United States.
     Her work centers on multi-dimensional marketing support of local and national promotions, new restaurant openings, franchise consulting, and media planning. In 2013 and 2014, Cammon received the Wendy’s Diamond Award for Best Sales Building Initiative, and Best Marketing Campaign of the Year. Originally from Destrehan, she resides in Roswell, Ga.


Southeastern Channel sheds light on the famous Breland murders
One of the most mysterious and diabolical crimes in Louisiana history, which took place in Tangipahoa Parish in the early 1900s, will be brought to light on Southeastern Louisiana University’s Southeastern Channel.
     The controversial Breland family murders of 1909 near Tickfaw is the subject of the latest episode of the Emmy-nominated history series, “The Florida Parish Chronicles,” entitled “Murder Mystery: The Breland Killings and the Challenge of Justice in Southeast Louisiana.”
     The episode debuted Saturday, May 16, on the Southeastern Channel, Southeastern’s educational channel on Charter 199. According to channel General Manager Rick Settoon, the episode will continue to air at 8 p.m. Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays through May. The program is underwritten by First Guaranty Bank of Hammond.
     “Amid the many tragedies that helped earn Tangipahoa Parish the epithet ‘Bloody,’ one episode stands out as particularly gruesome,” said host and primary researcher Samuel C. Hyde, Ford Family Chair in Regional Studies and director of the Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies at Southeastern. “The tragic Breland family murders contain all the elements necessary to make it a true horror story -- the ambush of an already grieving family on a quiet road, the murder of one man and two women, one a teenage mother, a baby left crying at the side of a ditch, along with a jail break and a hanging.”  
     The episode describes a bizarre and violent series of events leading up to and following the tragic murder of J.O. “Buzzy” Breland, his wife and stepdaughter in an ambush, referred to at the time as a “bushwhack,” on a country road between Tickfaw and Genessee.
     Chief suspects at the time were prominent Livingston Parish patriarch Ben Kinchen, his brother Garfield Kinchen and friend Avery Blount, who at the time was Tangipahoa Parish constable. Accounts state that fugitive Garfield Kinchen hid in the swamps of Livingston Parish for 18 months after the murders.
     “The Breland murders have long remained a mystery in the area, and local residents still debate whether all of the varied victims of the tragedy ever received justice,” Hyde said. “Court records, newspaper accounts, and interviews with descendants of both victims and perpetrators were all employed in our effort to piece together the convoluted story.”
     Settoon said that period photographs along with dramatic reenactments and computer-animated sequences of key incidents play an effective role in depicting the Breland case. Channel operations manager Steve Zaffuto shot, edited, animated and created graphics for the episode.
     “Although there are different versions of the story, Sam Hyde’s exhaustive and thorough research from all sides presents a balanced and objective view of what descendants of the families involved will no doubt debate for decades to come,” Settoon said.
     The program includes an interview that Hyde conducts with noted Livingston Parish historian Clark Forrest, a descendant of Garfield Kinchen, at the New Zion Cemetery near the Little River community west of Tickfaw, site of a killing during a funeral which set the tragic events in motion.
     “In addition to offering details on an exciting and mysterious incident from our past, this episode also seeks to provide insight into the thinking of individuals who lived in our area and participated in the violence that consumed the region in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,” Hyde said. “This episode will both entertain and educate just as it may also be a bit of a shock to many viewers.”
Breland murder victimsBreland killers
THE BRELAND MURDERS- Reenactment scenes portray convicted killers, in the photo on the right, Avery Blount (left) and Garfield Kinchen (right) and victims Eliza Breland (left) and stepdaughter Alma Johnson Everette (right) in the famous Breland murders that took place in Tickfaw in 1909. The crime has been called the most diabolical in Louisiana history and sheds light on inter-parish feuds between families and origins of the tag “Bloody Tangipahoa” for Tangipahoa Parish.


Southeastern in the news

N.O. Times Picayune
Southeastern Louisiana University broadcast student takes top honor

St. Tammany business briefs - Payroll Management

WAFB-TV (Baton Rouge)
Southeastern to receive national small business excellence award


ByLion is published weekly online (bi-weekly during the summer session) for the faculty and staff of Southeastern Louisiana University. Send submissions to, SLU 10880, fax 985-549-2061, or bring to University Marketing and Communications Office in East Stadium. Submission deadline is 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.

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