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Carolyn Jones Bienvenu – English Education, 1963; M.A. English, 1975

Carolyn Jones Bienvenu

1963 & 1975 – English Education

            As a 1963 midterm graduate of USL, I witnessed many growing pains at Southwestern.  My diploma reads Carolyn Jones Bienvenu since I married my husband of 36 years, Ronald Claude, during the summer of my last semester of undergraduate school.

The English Department flowered during my three and one-half years of undergraduate study.  I was so fortunate to experience several classes with the quintessential professor Dr. Milton Rickels.  His superior intellect inspired me and molded my self-confidence.  What better compliment than a few words written on a term paper, “May I use this idea in a book I am writing?”  What high praise so humbly given.  Others in the English Department also inspired, guided, challenged, and polished me.  I thank them all for the teacher I was for over 31 years.

I cannot recall my days at USL without musing on the two great icons of the Education Department: Dr. Beasley and Dr.Coussan.  Both became my friends through my semesters of education courses.  Dr. Beasley even introduced me to present learning concepts carried on through computers today.  The halls of Mouton were old but friendly in those growing days.

Speaking of halls, I’ll never forget running from Mouton to the barracks at the end of the campus for Dr. Adams’ Louisiana History class.  No one was allowed in after the door closed.  That Louisiana history remained our favorite

Another great hall in which I spent almost every evening during those years was Stephens Library.  The modern Dupre Library opened during those years, but the old library with its round oak tables remained our favorite.

Cypress Lake also lingers in memory when it still had a path through it and offered a secluded bench for goodnight kisses before heading back to the dorm and its curfew.  Yes, we had a curfew in those days and girls didn’t go outside the dorm in pants-not even to physical education classes!  Restrictions then were annoying, but when my own daughters attended USL, I would have welcomed those regulations.

Dorms were another vivid memory–Baker-Hughes, Evangeline, and Declouet.  I remember on one hot evening all the girls were asked to draw the blinds since our scanty clothing was visible from the president’s home which backed Declouet.  Noise and rushes for the showers, three sometimes four girls to a room, and studying until you couldn’t sit anymore were all a part of dorm life.

New buildings arose over the years, but the nostalgia of these old rooms lingers.  They were filled with many years of a growing university.

I can’t say there was much to linger from my short stay with my husband in the married housing, old vet village.  The sight of the ground between the floorboards and the roaches I chased with spray were memories I would prefer to forget.  One memory of vet village, however, that still gives me a chuckle is that of a couple who lived across the way.  Every week one of their parents arrived to return their clothing ironed and on hangars.  I thought them quite spoiled.

I doubt that anyone can recall USL campus life in those days without thinking of the “mess” hall.  Everyone got up for breakfast since it was the only good meal; there were always grits and biscuits.  Public restaurants were non-existent near campus and who could pass up the room and board of under $350 anyway.  My only regret was the “mess” hall was closed on weekends.  With no cooking in the dorm, spam and canned peaches constituted many meals.

As we come to homecoming ’98, I recall a much different football tradition.  We seemed to always play the Northeastern Indians, so decorations, a big deal at the dorm, took on a massacre flavor.  Games were played at McNaspy.  Dressed in heels and dresses bedecked with corsages, we maneuvered the wooden plank stadium to cheer our bulldogs.

Following graduation, I taught briefly in Calcasieu Parish before going home (my husband’s home) to Iberia Parish.  After my husband completed his masters and 30 plus certification, I decided to enter my own graduate program.  The English Department had grown tremendously in the intervening seven years.  I continued good fortune experiencing both Drs. Rickels and other quality professors as I earned my M.A. in English Literature.  I chose to remain a classroom teacher for the remainder of my career spending the greater part of 31 years teaching ninth-grade English and serving as department chair and yearbook sponsor.

Today, my husband and I relish the pleasures of retirement.  We travel and enjoy a full life, now that the responsibilities of our three grown, married children are gone.  We continue to keep close ties with USL through alumni activities and sports.  USL has been and continues to be very important to our lives.

Carolyn J. Bienvenu