Glenny Lee Castagnos Buquet – Speech and English Education, 1958
Glenny Lee Castagnos Buquet
1958 – Speech and English Education
Dear Friends and Supporters of USL:
As I was writing this letter for USL’s CD Rom, my thoughts naturally returned to SLI, USL’s predecessor, during the years I attended, 1954-58.
What was it like then? Dean Maxim Doucet was the Dean of Education and Vesta Bourgeois headed the Women’s Health and Physical Education Department. In 1954 the first integrated classes began. The students and faculty of SLI did a model job, and things went as smoothly as possible. We were a national model for the rest of the South.
The quadrangle was in place, but no bricks with names on them. Old Martin Hall was the center of the campus. I lived in Baker dorm as a freshman – we had one telephone for the whole downstairs! There were only two sororities with national affiliates – Alpha Sigma Alpha and Sigma Sigma Sigma. For years later, by spring 1958, all groups had affiliated with a national sorority.
Many of our classes were filled with Korean war veterans. They were serious students and set the curve, so the other students were not thrilled at their dedication. Little did we understand what they had given up to keep our lives whole. And little did I realize that in a few years I would marry a Korean War veteran.
The Air Force ROTC was a vibrant force on campus, and a few years later we lost some of our classmates in the Vietnam war. Others came home after serving with distinction.
What was campus life like? Freshmen girls were in by 8:00 p.m. on school nights, no pants could be worn except to P.E. classes and, of course, you always were coifed in public. If your hair wasn’t dry when the cafeteria was open, you’d better be able to go in a ponytail, because you were suspended if seen with your hair in rollers!
I wanted to attend a small, friendly college, and SLI was a small school — the best size, I’ve always thought. We had about 5,000 students, many of whom commuted. We knew our classmates, faculty and staff members. After trying two other majors, I chose to get my degree in Speech and English Education, which was a first step in a long journey of educational activities. In 1992, I was elected to the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and I am currently serving my second term as President of the Board.
I am forever grateful for my years on the SLI/USL campus, perhaps more so because they were hard earned, with much help and understanding from the administration. At the end of my first semester, my family informed me that they could no longer afford to send me to it was time to return to Houma and find a job.
Our mayor, the Honorable Leon Gary, called President Joel L. Fletcher and asked if President Fletcher could help me. President Fletcher called me in for an interview and sent me to the Alumni office, which was run by one staff person, and then a student worker — me. The Alumni office was housed in the Office of the Dean of Commerce, Dean Herbert Hamilton. He had one secretary and one student worker.
I was considered full-time, which meant that every hour that I was not in class, I was at work, 5 days a week. For this job, I will always be most thankful. At the end of every month I stepped across the hall to the business office and signed over my check for $59.00 to cover my room, a 5-day meal ticket, laundry, and whatever tuition there was.
That job literally made my college degree possible. And my bosses were very lenient. If I had to travel with the debate team to other colleges, even out of state, they gave me the time. I was allowed to travel to attend special student council meetings. I only wish President Fletcher and Dean Hamilton were here for me to thank them, again.
In 1998, I was honored to receive the SLI/USL College of Education Outstanding Alumni Award and was recognized as a distinguished honoree at USL’s College of Education Academic Showcase. It is truly my most treasured award. I am grateful for everything I learned at SLI. The organizational skills that I learned in debate have served me well throughout my life. I made many friends while attending SLI, and old friends are the best friends. In fact, my old SLI friend, District Attorney Bernie Boudreaux, administered the Oath of Office to me as Board President in January’s swearing in ceremony. Throughout our lives, old SLI/USL friends come together again and again.
I know USL’s current administration continues the tradition of helping students. The Buquet family, wishing to help make it possible for other students to get help, has formed a foundation, and our projects include working with Dr. Bob Alciatore, Dean Ford of the College of Education and with the Alumni Foundation to set up a scholarship fund within the College of Education.
Congratulations to USL on its 100th anniversary. I’m very proud to have been part of that 100 years.
Glenny Lee Buquet
President, Louisiana Board of
Elementary and Secondary Education