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GOVERNOR BLANCO TO ADDRESS SOUTHEASTERN
HAMMOND – Louisiana Governor Kathleen
Babineaux Blanco will deliver the keynote address at Southeastern Louisiana
University’s fall commencement on Saturday, Dec. 11.
Southeastern will confer associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees
on approximately 1,125 students at the 10 a.m. ceremony in the University
The commencement ceremony will feature
the introduction of this year's class of "Golden Graduates," members of
the Class of 1954 and previous years, who will lead the new graduates into
the University Center dressed in golden academic regalia. The Golden Graduate
tradition was initiated in the December 1998 commencement ceremony.
Blanco made history on Jan. 12, 2004
when she was sworn in as the first woman to serve as governor of Louisiana.
Outlining her top priorities in her inaugural address, she said: “We face
important challenges in this new century: expanding our economy and creating
quality jobs; building an effective health care system; improving our roads
and highways; rebuilding our coastline; protecting our farmers; and ensuring
that all our citizens, no matter their age, have superior educational opportunities.”
Before serving in the state’s top office,
Blanco completed two terms as lieutenant governor, supervising the Department
of Culture, Recreation and Tourism. Under her leadership, she helped build
a $9.5 billion tourism industry in Louisiana, which employs more than 125,000
people. At the end of her tenure, tourism was Louisiana’s second largest
First elected lieutenant governor in
1995, she was overwhelmingly re-elected to her second term in 1999, winning
80 percent of the vote. She began her career as a public servant in 1984
when she became the first woman elected to represent the people of Lafayette
in the Louisiana Legislature. Five years later she was elected to the Public
Service Commission, the first woman to serve as a commissioner and, later,
the first woman to chair the commission.
Before joining the public sector, she
taught at Breaux Bridge High School, a public school in St. Martin Parish,
near her native city of New Iberia. She holds a bachelor of science degree
in business education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.