Donna Dugas Pearson – Liberal Arts, 1985; Education student, Spring 1992
Donna Dugas Pearson
College of Education, Spring 1992
College of Arts, Humanities, and Behavioral Sciences B.A. 1985
Dear Dr. Dugas:
I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in December 1985. Never, in my wildest of dreams, did I think about returning to Lafayette, Louisiana to live. Especially not to go back to school which is exactly what I ended up doing! After having lived in the Northeastern United States since graduation, I made the decision in the Spring 1992 to return to my alma mater and pursue my goal of becoming a teacher.
After having been separated from the nurturing arms of Lafayette, I felt that the University of Southwestern Louisiana seemed like both a natural and logical choice for me after all, I practically grew up on this campus. Actually, I did grow up on this campus. You see, my father, Dr. Edmond Dugas, was a graduate assistant in the Department of Health and Physical Education in 1963, the year I was born. In fact, my parents lived in “Vet Village” on the USL campus when I was a baby. After my father attained his masters degree, he continued to teach at the University, and he and my mother, Marilyn, watched their family grow. As our family grew (5 children, four USL alums), it was necessary for my father to share in his parenting role, which meant my brother Paul and I used to join him at Earl K. Long for anything from tennis, to badminton, to basketball. It was also common for us to help a secretary with some filing, run errands on campus, and get into some trouble, especially when my sister Lesley accompanied us.
My father continued his education while teaching full time at the University, and he received his Ed.D. from Louisiana State University. He moved through the ranks in the Department of Health and Physical Education, becoming department chair in 1975. So, we obviously grew up in a family where education was valued a precious commodity! We all knew we would go to college, and my parents decided that USL was where we would go. I assured my parents that the only way I would attend USL (I argued that it was like a great big high school to me too familiar I wanted something new and exciting) was if they allowed me to live in a dorm. They agreed, and I moved on campus in the summer of 1981. The institutional blue walls and vending machines weren’t very “homey,” but I was convinced that I had made the right decision how else would I become independent and self-sufficient unless I could live on my own (with the financial assistance of my parents, of course).
Dorm life proved most interesting and exciting, as a great number of my dormmates were from the distant mecca of New Orleans. These girls were loud, flamboyant, and so much fun! I made instant friends for life, as there were dorm parties, mini-excursions to the French Quarters and Florida, and late-night cram sessions where pizza and Tab were consumed at dangerous levels. Much to my parents’ surprise (and my own), I did graduate in four years. I did not set the academic world on fire, but I did graduate with a decent average which enabled me to get a job at one of the world’s largest advertising agencies in New York City… all this on my first day in town.
After having worked in advertising and for a trade association, I came to the realization that while these jobs were exciting, I did not feel quite fulfilled at the end of the day. Was I really making a difference in someone’s life? When I was growing up, people would ask me if I were going to be a teacher like my dad. I always responded the same way–(vehemently) “NO!” Evidently, growing up in this type of a household had an impact upon me and the rest of my siblings: Three out of five of us are now teachers, and John is studying to become one. My brother Paul chose a different profession and is a practicing attorney in Lafayette.
After a great deal of soul-searching, I did make the decision to return to school to pursue my teaching certification and a masters degree in education. While I did not attain this at USL, (I graduated from the Holmes Program at Louisiana State University) I did take course work necessary in the College of Education at USL to qualify me for this rigorous program.
My journey in life began at USL and in a strange way, it has always been a place I can go back to, a place where I can feel as if I belong no matter what a place just like home! Presently, I live out of state, in Overland Park, Kansas. I am married to Dale Pearson, who is the entrepreneur in the family. Dale publishes a local real estate magazine in the Kansas City metro area and also does market research in publishing. I am in my 5th year of teaching at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School in Shawnee Mission, Kansas where I teach World Geography. We are expecting our first child this July. It is with great pride that I send this letter. I feel that USL helped to mold who I am today. The University had a major positive impact on me and my entire family. We owe the school a tremendous debt of gratitude.
Donna Dugas Pearson