News release
Public Information Office  SLU 10880   Hammond, LA 70402   phone: 985-549-2341   fax: 985-549-2061 Spring 2004 news releases Public Information home News archive

Contact: Christina Chapple
Date: 5/2/05
       HAMMOND --  Two Southeastern Louisiana University students told Gov. Kathleen Blanco recently that programs such as the university’s “Southeastern Scholars” can help keep students in high school and focused on college careers.
       The Southeastern pair – Robbie Beyl and Melissa LaPuma, both of Hammond – were invited to participate in a roundtable discussion with Governor Blanco and Assistant Superintendent Donna Nola-Ganey at Joseph A. Cuillier Sr. Career Center in Marrero. 
       As part of a national initiative, Blanco has established the Louisiana High School Redesign Commission to develop statewide policies and guiding principles and to recommend actions that will affect Louisiana’s 192,000 public high school students. She described the roundtable as a “fact-finding” event related to the high school reform initiative.
       “I felt honored to be one of two students from Southeastern chosen to visit with the Governor,” said LaPuma, a 2003 graduate of Hammond’s St. Thomas Aquinas High School who is now majoring in the Biological Sciences Department’s pre-veterinarian track. A member of Phi Mu sorority, Gamma Beta Phi, and the St. Albert’s Catholic Youth League, LaPuma participated in Superior Juniors, earning three hours of college credit in Spanish. 
       LaPuma said the participants discussed “what we can do to reduce poverty rates by keeping teenagers in high school. We discussed some ways to create more hands on activities in high school that would improve a student's chance at getting a higher education even if it doesn't involve a typical college education.  It could be a trade school or something of that sort that would not only give them a education in the field they are interested in but also reduce the epic of poverty among American society.
       “The Governor was extremely interested in what we had to say and how we felt about the situation,” she said. “I think this visit helped me to see that other people feel the same way I do about things. High school is a very critical part of our lives. Although it is important to learn about history and calculus, we also need the opportunity to learn how to balance a checkbook,  do our taxes, cook or even how to raise a child.”
       “We talked about how to keep high school students interested,” said Beyl, a junior mathematics major. “I think programs such as ‘Southeastern Scholars’ definitely help do that.”
       When Beyl graduated from Hammond High School in 2003, he already had 17 hours of college credit on his record thanks to his participation in the “Superior Juniors” program, the predecessor of “Southeastern Scholars.” 
       The Southeastern Scholars program is open to high school students with ACT composite scores of 24 or above and a 3.0 high school grade point average. Participants can receive a tuition scholarship for up to six hours of Southeastern course work. 
       Because of his early start on college, Beyl will also graduate ahead of his peers – “a whole year early,” said the mathematics major, who plans to go to graduate school and eventually teach mathematics. 
       Beyl said he began taking Southeastern courses along with some of his Hammond High School friends during the summer before his senior year.
       “We did it to get ahead,” he said. “It was fun taking classes with my friends. I loved getting to know the campus, getting connected. I liked the idea of college and high school together, so I continued during my senior year. I really enjoyed the challenge.” Beyl took three mathematics courses as well as freshmen communication and history classes.
       An active student, he is secretary of Gamma Beta Phi, a national service fraternity; and president-elect of the Pi Mu Epsilon mathematics honor society. He also works in Southeastern’s mathematics tutoring lab and has been recognized as the Mathematics Department’s top freshman and sophomore student.
       For additional information about Southeastern Scholars, visit Southeastern’s Prospective Students page, Additional information is also available through the Office of Student Success,, 985-549-3852.