Nicholls Honors Alumni, Community with 2022 Awards for Excellence

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls Alumni Federation honored the achievements of Nicholls alumni and the community during the annual Awards for Excellence ceremony held on March 23. 

“We are so blessed as a university to have men and women such as these who have contributed so much to this institution and our community over the years,” said Katherine Mabile, director of Alumni Affairs. “This university would not be here today without the passion and commitment of our remarkable alumni. It is an honor to recognize them through our awards ceremony.” 

Houma native Michael J. Hebert, Jr. received the James Lynn Powell Award, Nicholls supporters Mr. and Mrs. Salvador M. Brocato, III, the Harvey Peltier Award, The Giardina Family Foundation received the Corporate Mark of Honor and Dr. Maria B. Cruse the Honorary Alumni Award. 

Hebert is the chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) National Jones Act Division of Enforcement (JADE) and has spent over three decades in federal service, including nine years in the military. In 2016, CBP charged the  2-time graduate of Nicholls with defining, establishing and leading the newly formed JADE division, and today he is responsible for the CBP’s coastwise trade enforcement strategy. But even as he rose through the ranks of the federal government, he never forgot where he came from. He returned to Nicholls from 2015 through 2018, serving as an adjunct instructor of petroleum engineering and safety technology management, and criminal justice while also contributing to the development of the program’s curriculum. The James Lynn Powell Alumni Award is the highest recognition given to a Nicholls graduate. 

The Brocatos support of Nicholls may have only begun in 2017 when their son Dominic joined the Nicholls Football team, but their passion for Nicholls has been ever present in the years since. Members of the Nicholls Foundation and the Huddle Up Club, they were the first to donate to the Boucvalt Family Athletic Complex Naming Campaign in 2020. But their support is not limited to just Nicholls Football. Over the last five years, they have also made remarkable contributions to Nicholls Police, the maritime management program and the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, among others. The Harvey Peltier Award is given annually to an outstanding supporter of the university. It is the highest honor a non-graduate can receive from Nicholls.

The Giardina Family Foundation has been a supporter of Nicholls for more than two decades. They have given across campus to areas such as the Dyslexia Center, Nicholls Foundation, Nicholls Choir, Institutional Advancement Special projects, Ballroom renovation, and Culinary. It’s that level of dedication to the Nicholls mission that led Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune to select them to receive the Corporate Mark of Honor. 

A Thibodaux psychiatrist for over 25 years, Dr. Cruse has as long been an avid supporter of Nicholls and the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. She played a key role in the creation of the Culinary Guild, the institute’s fundraising advisory group, and was named an honorary culinary faculty member in 2011. Additionally, she also helps to raise money for the school through her other business, Birdsall Jewelry. 

In addition to the awards, the Alumni Federation honored the 2022 Outstanding Graduates from each college. This year’s recipients are: 

  • College of Liberal Arts – Elise Blanchard
  • College of Sciences and Technology – Drs. Jeremy Rau, Jeffrey Rau, Bryan Rau and Nicholas Rau
  • College of Business Administration – Travis Brown 
  • Chef John Folse Culinary Institute – Chef Nicholas Landry
  • College of Education and Behavioral Sciences –  Tanya Breaux
  • College of Nursing – Diann Hebert

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