Donors and students celebrate success at Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon

LSU Shreveport students Vina Perez and Cooper Longino strive to show that a college degree is within reach for everybody.

Perez and Longino shared their stories at the LSUS Foundation Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon Wednesday. Both say scholarships have given them the gift of time to focus on classes and community involvement.

Perez will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She holds the Mary Edna Adams Brossette Endowed Scholarship for Student Teaching, the Bobbie Cates Hicks Top Scholar, the George A. Khoury, Jr. Scholarship in Education, the Elaine Williams Parker Endowed Scholarship in Education and a Noel Foundation Inc. Chancellor Scholarship.

One of 10 children, Perez had little formal education before entering college.

“When my son was getting ready to start high school, I decided to go to college,” Perez said. “It was a little rough. I was working and going to school and sleeping two or three hours a night. Then I got scholarships. That helped me be a better mother and a better student. I showed my son what your generosity did for me. Now he’s in his third semester at LSUS.”

Longino is a first-generation student majoring in English. He holds the Walter O. Bigby and Matel Dawson, Jr. endowed scholarships. He’s captain of the LSUS Debate Team, which has opened doors to travel and friendships.

“Scholarships give the most valuable resource: time,” Longino said. “I get to do this because of the time your support gives me. I work in the LSUS Office of Recruitment, and I get to be an example for potential students to look at and say, ‘LSUS cares’.”

Jennifer White

Other scholarship recipients, among them senior Jennifer White, thanked donors via video. White is a single mother and works full-time at an emergency veterinary clinic.

“The scholarships have let me show my children not only that perseverance and hard work pay off, but what kindness can do for somebody else,” White said.

The luncheon brings scholarship recipients and donors together each year. LSU Shreveport awarded 189 privately funded scholarships totaling more than $388,000 this year. Scholarship recipients hold a combined grade point average of 3.55.

LSUS Foundation President Laura Perdue said the foundation is dedicated to helping students lay the foundation for a career.

“We have one responsibility and one commitment to you, and that is to get you to a degree,” Perdue said. “You’re investing in a future that will have opportunities, relationships and doors opening that you never thought possible.”

LSUS alumna Patty Lemoine (Class of 1987), left, chats with LSUS Chancellor Dr. Robert Smith during the Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon on Wednesday, April 3. Patty endowed a scholarship in memory of her sisters.

LSUS has received nearly 700 scholarship applications for the 2024-25 academic year, a 64 percent increase over the previous application cycle, said LSUS Director of Scholarships Matthew Culpepper.

“That means we’re reaching students with the message that college is affordable,” Culpepper said.

The LSUS Foundation’s $33 million portfolio includes privately funded scholarships created by generous individuals and organizations to support the mission of the university. The awards range from annual funding for books and study materials to endowed scholarships that cover most of a student’s college costs.

LSUS Chancellor Dr. Robert Smith thanked donors for their commitment to higher education.

“Between TOPS (Taylor Opportunity Program for Students) funding and scholarships, many of our students can go here for four years and leave without any debt,” Dr. Smith said. “We are transforming lives, and your generosity has made this possible.”