Nicholls recognizes alumni, community with Alumni Awards of Excellence  

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls Alumni Federation honored several in the community who have contributed the most to the University at its annual Awards for Excellence reception on Wednesday.

President and CEO of The National WWII Museum Stephen Watson received the James Lynn Powell Award, Thomas Meyer the Harvey Peltier Award, United Community Bank received the Corporate Mark of Honor and Dr. Matthew and Kacy Porche the Honorary Alumni Award.

“Every year, Nicholls State University and the Nicholls Alumni Federation choose to honor the excellence among our former students and the generosity of the surrounding community,” said Katherine Gianelloni, acting director of the Nicholls Alumni Federation. “These men and women exude Colonel Pride and we are proud of their commitment to our students and to Nicholls.”

Watson (B.S. ‘97, MBA ‘98) was born in Little Brechin, Scotland, and relocated to Thibodaux in 1994 to pursue his degrees at Nicholls State University. Watson joined the staff of what would become the National WWII Museum in New Orleans in 2002. He was promoted to vice president and chief operating officer in 2004 and then to president and CEO in 2017.

Meyer is a private wealth advisor with Meyer Financial Group and he started the Ben Meyer Foundation in 2015 named after his late brother, Ben. A loyal supporter of Nicholls State University, Meyer made a gift to enable the athletics department last year to purchase the new LED scoreboard for the John L. Guidry Stadium and purchased synthetic turf for the Ray Didier Field, and the field itself has been renamed the Ben Meyer Diamond.

The Corporate Mark of Honor is selected by Nicholls President Dr. Jay Clune for being a strong supporter of the University and its mission. United Community Bank has made numerous contributions to the University, including student scholarships for mass communications, A+ Scholars Night, Bite of the Arts and Athletic Scoreboards.

Dr. Porche serves as a physician for the Nicholls athletic department, treating the injuries sustained by athletes. He and his wife, Kacy, are also supporters of Nicholls, having contributed to Nicholls during numerous fundraising events and they have also been donors to the athletic department.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator,  985.448.4141 or

Nicholls art student receives advertising awards

THIBODAUX, La. — A Nicholls art major will have her advertising campaign judged on a national level after being recognized at the local and regional level.

Celeste Bourgeois, a senior from Thibodaux, received a Silver ADDY – a term coined for an American Advertising Federation award – for Integrated Brand Identity Campaign.  

“It’s invigorating to have a Nicholls student receive local and regional ADDY awards and be recognized by industry judges as one of the best among her peers,” said Trisha Rabalais, associate professor of art. “Celeste is an example of the truly remarkable talent that we have in the Nicholls department of art.”  

Bourgeois was first honored by the Baton Rouge chapter of the AAF on March 3 for her project titled, “MARGZ Margarita Festival.” Her project later received top honors in District 7, which covers Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, and will move on to Nationals. She will receive her district award at a ceremony on April 13 in Jackson, Mississippi.

Established in 1905, the American Advertising Federation acts as the “Unifying Voice for Advertising.” Its membership is comprised of nearly 100 corporate members made up of the nation’s leading advertisers, agencies and media companies; a national network of nearly 200 local clubs representing 40,000 advertising professionals; and more than 200 college chapters with 5,000 student members.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

Nicholls professors to bring Brazilian music to life during March performance


THIBODAUX, La. — A pair of Nicholls Department of Music professors who have performed in prestigious venues worldwide will put their latent on display during a concert held on March 26.

The Alexander-Soares Duo was formed in 2005 and is composed of violinist James Alexander and pianist Dr. Luciana Soares.

“The program on March 26th features beautiful music by Schubert, Szymanowski and exciting music by Brazilian composers,” said Dr. Soares. “The concert is free and music lovers should not miss it.”

The event is from 7:30 to 9 p.m. that Monday in the Mary and Al Danos Theater.

Soares is a Nicholls professor of music and Alexander is a Nicholls lecturer and director of the string program.

The Alexander-Soares Duo has performed in prestigious venues, including the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C., the Landeskonservatorium in Austria, the University of Chichester in England and the Sala Cecília Meireles in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The duo has most recently has performed in Romania and Slovakia and this summer will be performing in several cities in Brazil. The duo has been the featured artists of the Chamber Music Festival Centro Sul e Vale do Salgado, the 32nd Curso Internacional de Verão de Brasilia, the Campina International Music Festival and the prestigious International Festival of Santa Catarina.

The duo’s debut recording is available on the Centaur Records label, featuring the five sonatas for violin and piano by composer Liduino Pitombeira.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

Nicholls biology students bring home awards from state science conference

THIBODAUX, La. — Three Nicholls biology students were recognized for their research last Saturday during the 92nd annual Louisiana Academy of Sciences meeting in Alexandria.

Sixteen Nicholls students and faculty attended the day-long meeting held on the campus of LSU-Alexandria.

Megan Boudreaux received the Outstanding Undergraduate Oral Presentation award in the Sciences and Humanities Division for her research on medical forensics.

Kyle Bird, a graduate marine and environmental biology student, received the Outstanding Graduate Poster Presentation award in the Environmental Sciences Section for his research on water quality, bacteria and antibiotic resistance in Bayou Lafourche.

Alexis Risner, a graduate marine and environmental biology student, received the Outstanding Graduate Oral Presentation award in the Zoology Section for research into Bowfin diets and reproductive activity in the Upper Barataria Estuary and Atchafalaya River Basin.

“We’re very proud of our students. They have once again shown that students from Nicholls can put their research up against students from bigger universities and be successful,” said Dr. Quenton Fontenot, department head of Biological Sciences. “It also shows that they’re developing great communication skills, which will help them get jobs when they graduate. You can do all the science in the world, but if you can’t effectively communicate to the public, then it loses some impact.”

The Louisiana Academy of Sciences was established in 1927 and is the state’s premier organization for scientists, university science faculty and university science students.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator,  985.448.4141 or

Nicholls chemistry student heads to Colorado to participate in research project

Cyrus Picou (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — A Nicholls State University chemistry student is receiving a $5,000 stipend to participate in a Research Experiences for Undergraduates project this summer in Colorado.

Cyrus Picou, a junior from Montegut, Louisiana, will be part of a project researching the structure and dynamics of molecules in the condensed phase at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. Picou also participated in an REU project last year and came back to Nicholls ready to become a physical chemist.

“We encourage Nicholls students to participate in REUs because they get to work with some of the best scientists in the world,” said Chad Young, associate professor of physical sciences. “And for Nicholls, these programs learn that the Department of Physical Sciences has the best students.”

Picou said the project will give him a hands-on experience in a specialized field of chemistry and also allow him to learn from graduate students. Picou said Nicholls has also helped prepare him for graduate school, and he has enjoyed the personal connections he has been able to make.

“The chemistry classes are especially fun because most of the class started together as freshman,” Picou said. “This also means our teachers know us enough to joke around with us.”


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator,  985.448.4141 or

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist to speak to Nicholls students

THIBODAUX, La. — Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and Nicholls alum Cory Haik will share her experiences and perspectives from a lifetime working in a male-dominated industry at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 21 in Le Bijou Theatre.

During her career as a journalist, Haik (B.A. ‘00) has earned three shared Pulitzer Prizes. Two in 2006 as acting manager of during Hurricane Katrina for breaking news and public service, and another in 2010 as assisting managing editor at The Seattle Times for distinguished local reporting with speed and accuracy on police officer shootings.

Haik is now the publisher for Mic, a digital platform for millennials with a reach of 70 million.

“Ms. Haik has a lot to teach our students about the value of having faith in their own ability,” said Dr. James Stewart, department head of mass communication. “She has built a very successful career in two fields that historically have been dominated by men, journalism and the tech industry.”

The event is free and open to the public.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator,  985.448.4141 or

Nicholls first-ever social media team advances to semifinal round at Ball State

THIBODAUX, La. — Four Nicholls State University seniors, representing the University’s first-ever social media competition team, have placed in the top 10 at the Ball State Center for Advancement of Digital Marketing and Analytics Fourth Annual Social Media Competition and will compete in the semifinal round next month.

Forty teams participated in the initial round of the competition with only nine, including Nicholls, moving on to the semifinal round.

Business majors Allie Boudreaux, Carleigh Seibert, Alexandria Prosperie and Harley Talbot prepared a social media campaign for YWCA USA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.

“I think it speaks to the quality of our students in the Nicholls College of Business Administration that we have advanced this far in our first year of competing,” said Dr. Laura Valenti, assistant professor of marketing and the team’s advisor. “Even if our students don’t go into social media when they graduate, they have earned experience that will translate to any occupation.”

Nicholls will compete in the semifinal round on April 7 at Ball State’s L.A. Pittenger Student Center with a chance to be one of four teams that compete in the finals later that day. While in Muncie, Indiana, the students will also have a chance to network with social media and marketing professionals and companies.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator,  985.448.4141 or

Four Nicholls Business students receive distinguished scholarship

THIBODAUX, La. — Four Nicholls State University business majors have taken home prestigious Harold & Muriel Berkman Charitable Foundation scholarships.

The Berkman scholarships exist as the foundation’s commitment to higher education in the U.S., in particular preparing future business leaders. The foundation also aims to recognize the achievements of men and women who have served this country in military service, and two of the Nicholls’ recipients are U.S. veterans. The foundation awards only 55 to 60 $1,000 scholarships annually.

Winners are James Barker, Allie Boudreaux, Kenny Bourg and Dana Rodrigue.

Barker, a junior in the management program from Alexandria, La., retired from the U.S. Army in 2012 after 20 years of service.

Boudreaux is a senior from Raceland who is specializing in marketing with a minor in management.

Bourg graduated cum laude in 2016 with a bachelor’s in business administration and has returned to pursue a degree in computer information systems. Bourg served in the U.S. Army from 2007 to 2011.

Rodrigue is a sophomore from Houma who is specializing in marketing with a minor in art.
“The Nicholls College of Business is pleased that the Berkman Foundation is honoring four of our most outstanding students with a scholarship,” said Dr. Marilyn Macik-Frey, Nicholls College of Business Administration dean. “Being among the award recipients in a pool of over 800 applicants is a testament to their hard work. These students were selected because of their dedication to the field of marketing and we are especially pleased that the Foundation chose to honor U.S. Veterans.”


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

Nicholls Bridge to Independence, Culinary Institute programs partner

Nicholls Bridge to Independence student Lauren Gennaro plants seeds into rockwool cubes as Bridge student worker Gabby Champagne oversees Friday at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute. (Cain Madden/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — If you stop by Bistro Ruth or The Bakery at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, you will be eating herbs and vegetables grown on the Nicholls campus by students in the Bridge to Independence program.

Bridge to Independence students are growing herbs, spices and other vegetables by using tower gardens located in the Culinary Institute. The partnership benefits the two programs by giving Bridge students an internship and saving the Culinary Institute money by providing an endless supply of certain ingredients.

Tower Gardens are vertical, aeroponic garden structures that hold the plants in slots and provide light by way of lamps that reach down from the top of the structure. Using a donation from local nonprofit, Blessed by Downs, Nicholls purchased three tower gardens. Some of the herbs grown will be used in baked goods sold at The Bakery at Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

“This gives our students a connection to another department on campus and the chance for an internship,” said Tara Martin, director of the Bridge to Independence program. “Our students want to work in food service, and they can take ownership of the gardens because they have been here from day one. It means something special to them.”

On Friday, Bridge students planted cilantro, lavender, thyme, spinach, tomato, basil and parsley. Chef John Kozar, department head of the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, said they will expand that selection in the future to give more experience to those students.

“It’s a lot of fun to work with the students from the Bridge to Independence program,” said Kozar, who teaches a food sanitation course for Bridge students. “They’re passionate about the things they do and they bring a freshness to the program.”

Bridge to Independence assists students with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder with job and social skills. Nicholls’ program is one of only 50 programs in the United States certified by the U.S. Department of Education and the only in Louisiana.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or


Women in Media panelists to discuss industry, stories at Nicholls

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls Radio-Television Digital News Association will host a panel Wednesday where students can learn from several women about their experiences working in the media.

Associate professor of mass communications and the organization’s advisor, Dr. Andrew Simoncelli, said hearing these women’s stories is worthwhile whether you are a mass communication student or not.

“With the topic of workplace harassment being so prevalent in the news today, it is important to hear the experience of women working in various fields,” Simoncelli said. “It is also important for our students, and especially female students, to hear from women who are currently working in fields in which our students are interested.”

Confirmed panelists are Caroline Marcello, who is a reporter with KLFY-TV Lafayette; Tara Jae, who is a radio personality featured on Power 102.9 New Orleans; Deanna Lafont, who is a customer service representative with Entergy in Thibodaux; Joni Tuck, who is the external relations manager with the Greater Lafourche Port Commission; and Megan Archer, who is a senior video producer with Vision Communications and EATEL Corp.

The free event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 14 at LeBijou Theatre.

The Nicholls Radio-Television Digital News Association is a student organization in the Mass Communications Department dedicated to those pursuing a career in electronic journalism.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or