HBCU presidents visit St. John

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, March 28, 2018

LAPLACE — Students in St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools got the opportunity to meet and interact with two university presidents this month.

Grambling State University President Rick Gallot and Southern University and A&M College President Ray Belton visited four schools during their trip.

Bernetta Ambres, coordinator of the annual presidential visit and a GSU alumna, said students were afforded the opportunity to meet and converse with the university presidents prior to selecting their college of choice.

“It creates awareness of quality HBCUs in Louisiana,” Ambres said. “It exposes our students to how these school presidents care about students’ academic futures and potential career and shows them HBCUs are considered a ‘home away from home’ and professors actually know their students by name and not by a number.”

The university presidents spoke to students at West St. John and East St. John high schools, offered words of encouragement to students at St. John Alternative School and were interviewed by WJLO student journalists at John L. Ory Communication Arts Magnet School.

“The presidents of two historical institutions visiting East St. John is an honor that cannot be put into words,” East St. John High School Principal Tabari Simon said.

“For our students to have an opportunity to speak and meet these gentlemen is inspiration to continue their educational endeavors. I know we will see a multitude of inspired individuals from East St. John attend both Southern and Grambling State universities.”

As part of their visit, the presidents were also the guests of honor at a luncheon hosted by St. John the Baptist Parish President Natalie Robottom and took part in a Presidential Reception/Fundraiser that raised more than $10,000 for scholarships at Grambling.

The fundraiser is expected to expand next year to also raise money for scholarships at Southern.  More than 800 students in St. John the Baptist Parish Public Schools were part of the visit.