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This item originally appeared in the April 14, 2005 issue of The Tech Talk.

By BRIAN TYNES

News Editor

Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco will speak at spring commencement May 21 in the Thomas Assembly Center.

Tech President Dr. Dan Reneau said he headed the search for a speaker and Blanco was the main candidate.

"We are a public institution of higher education, and Gov. Blanco is a high-ranking public official," Reneau said. "She has always spoken highly of us, and I consider it a big honor for her to speak.

"We always like to have a high-profile individual who can serve as a role model. She operates from a moral compass. She is very competent, caring and she believes in education. I have been a friend of hers for a long time."

Reneau also said Blanco was receptive to the idea of speaking.

"Their first response was they would have to [check her schedule]," Reneau said. "And in the second transaction they accepted."

Roderick Hawkins, deputy press secretary for Blanco, said she has always been in awe of Tech.

"The governor has always been impressed by the students, faculty and staff at Louisiana Tech," Hawkins said. "[She] looks forward to sending forth the graduating class."

Kimberly Ludwig, Student Government Association president and a senior business management and entrepreneurship major, said she hopes Blanco will reassure students that job prospects are available.

"As someone who is about to graduate, I would like to know there are opportunities in Louisiana," Ludwig said. "I know she's been working hard to bring in more business and industry to Louisiana."

Ludwig also said it shows the governor's commitment to learning.

"I think it's great that she's visiting so many higher education institutions in the state," Ludwig said. "And that she would be willing to speak, especially at spring commencement because it's the largest we have. [I hope she talks about] the importance of education and what Louisiana has done for its students as far as educating them with [Tuition Opportunity Program for Students] and other programs."

Stephen Bell, president of Union Board and a senior biology major, said he's glad the governor pays attention to the graduates in the state.

"I think it's good she's taking an interest in the schools in Louisiana and what those students have to offer," Bell said. "Hopefully [she will talk about] keeping people in Louisiana with incentives and job opportunities."

Hawkins said Blanco will discuss the benefits of staying in Louisiana.

"The governor will probably address what the graduates have done and how getting a degree will improve the economy in Louisiana," Hawkins said. "She understands young people want to explore, but she's worked hard to make the state a place they can come home to and find a well-paying job."

Blanco has delivered several commencement speeches in the past including Xavier University-New Orleans last spring and Southeastern Louisiana State University-Hammond in December.

In addition to Tech, Blanco will speak at the commencement of Southern University in Baton Rouge this spring.


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