Queen Heather Roussel says goodbye with a gift

Published 12:14 am Saturday, August 12, 2017

RESERVE — One person who won’t be nervous on the St. John Theatre stage is Heather Roussel.

The dynamic 20-year-old LaPlace native completes her reign as the 68th St. John Sugar Queen by crowning this year’s new queen.

“This year I feel a lot better, especially because all of the girls competing, each and every one of them, will be a great queen for the parish to have,” Roussel said.

“I am a little sad to think my year is over but I am also really excited to pass it on and watch the next girl have the same experiences I had. I want someone else to enjoy those opportunities, because it really was a great year.”

Not one to simply wave goodbye, Roussel is leaving behind a heartfelt gift for future queens to enjoy by presenting the parish an ornate train and mantle.

Previously, St. John Sugar queens didn’t have one so whenever Roussel attended balls, she often found herself as the only girl who didn’t have something big to represent her parish.

“We went ahead a got one,” she said. “It says St. John Sugar and has sugar cane on it. It’s blue like the color of our parish. It’s a visual representation of St. John, so whenever I do go to various balls throughout the state, everyone can see that, as well.”

Donating the train and mantle to future queens, Roussel said, is something very important to her.

One of the coolest experiences Roussel enjoyed was attending the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival.

All attending queens were taken on boats to the giant crawfish farm. They each had a chance to pull up traps and empty the contents into a bucket. A giant crawfish boil followed, and Roussel participated in the annual crawfish races.

“It was a different culture and to see how they celebrated was really cool,” Roussel said. “It was fun because they let us do it ourselves.”

Outside of the queen scene, Roussel is staying active in her nursing pursuit.

She was accepted into the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Nursing Program in January, began clinicals and just completed summer work as a surgery floor nurse technician at Ochsner Medical Center – Kenner.

The experiences have strengthened her passion for nursing.

With two years of school remaining, Roussel is contemplating a masters degree and potential futures as a nurse practitioner or certified registered nurse anesthetist.

“I still have a lot of school to go through and a lot of different areas to test out,” she said. “I want to test everything and see what is best for me.”

As for the next St. John Sugar Queen, Roussel has some simple advice:

“Go as many places as possible and always think about what would make you happy. Keep your eye on the goal you set at the beginning of the year. It’s going to get busy and it’s going to get crazy, but at the end of the day, if you do what makes you happy, that is all that really matters.”