Southeastern alumnus receives national Phi Kappa Phi fellowship
Contact: Christina Chapple
HAMMOND – Southeastern Louisiana University alumnus Albert J. “Snapper” Poche Jr. is one of 60 recipients nationwide who have been awarded a fellowship for post-graduate study by the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
The prestigious fellowships are awarded on a competitive basis for first-year graduate or professional study. Poche, a 2002 Southeastern graduate with a bachelor of science degree in biological sciences, was the Southeastern chapter’s nominee for the national competition.
Poche plans to use the fellowship’s $5,000 award to pursue a career in community-based conservation initiatives. The Ponchatoula native will enroll this fall in the graduate program at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. He resides in Chicago where he currently works for the global engineering-construction firm CH2M Hill.
Poche is the third Southeastern nominee to receive the Phi Kappa Phi fellowship. Previous recipients have included Sean Patrick Kerrigan of Kenner in 2004, who enrolled in medical school at Louisiana State University, and Richard David Ramsey of Hammond in 1968, who is a professor of general business at Southeastern. Dana Meidinger, a piano performance major from Hammond, also received Phi Kappa Phi’s “Award of Distinction” in 2002.
“We are extremely proud that Phi Kappa Phi has selected yet another Southeastern student for this prestigious honor,” said President Randy Moffett. “Mr. Poche was an outstanding student, well-liked and respected by both professors and peers. This honor is a personal tribute to him as well as a testimony to the quality of students who are making Southeastern their university of choice.”
“Phi Kappa Phi’s motto is ‘Let the love of learning rule humanity,’” said Southeastern Phi Kappa Phi President Donnie Booth, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences. “It is very gratifying to our chapter that another of our members has been awarded this prestigious fellowship to further their own personal love of learning.”
As a Southeastern student, Poche received the Department of Biological Sciences’ “Outstanding Graduating Senior Award,” and held a President’s, ExCEL Leadership and other scholarships. He was active in organizations such as Southeastern Orientation Leaders, Gamma Beta Phi and the Student Government Association.
He also was a research associate in the Biological Science Department’s Wetlands Restoration and Ornithology labs, where he assisted with ecological research projects under the direction of professors Gary Shaffer and Phil Stouffer.
“Snapper Poche conducted a master’s degree-quality study while working in my lab,” Shaffer said. He said Poche’s research project, which involved planting bald cypress at six sites on South Pass to determine the best sites for cypress regeneration projects, “could have important management implications.”
Poche said he was influenced to study biology by his family’s experience of losing their commercial fishing livelihood in Lake Pontchartrain because of the decline of the area’s natural resources. After graduation, Poche said, “I committed myself to serve others that may be affected by ecosystem mismanagement and took my first step in supporting world conservation initiatives by signing up to become a Peace Corps Volunteer.”
Poche spent two years in the Philippines where he worked for the Katala Foundation, a small nonprofit organization devoted to the conservation of the endangered Philippine Cockatoo.
Poche said he is seeking a career in international environmental development “as a means to better peoples’ lives in the developing world by encouraging environmental conservation.”
“I hope to make a positive impact on the environmental state of our threatened planet,” he said.