Out of love, young couple donates ‘noble tree’ to campus

Jul 11, 2022 | Alumni, General News, Tech Family

Louisiana Tech University class of 2019 graduates Kensley and Levi Boniol are still practically newlyweds. They now live in Houston but will have deep roots in Ruston for years to come.

That’s because their love for each other and for Louisiana Tech inspired the young couple to leave something on campus that would grow as their love did.

They donated a noble tree, a gesture that turned into a Tech Family affair.

“It’s a beautiful addition to campus, and we hope it’ll last a long time,” Kensley said. “We wanted to give something that would provide everlasting memories. Hopefully this tree will outlive us and our kids; it’s awesome knowing we can go back and visit through the years and see how it’s growing and aging as we are.”

“We wanted to leave our mark on Tech, to give something back,” Levi said. “Everyone has a brick; we wanted to leave a piece of us there.”

The two met as freshmen when they and mutual friends had near-nightly visits in the Pierce-Dudley courtyard. It was a case of small town meets big city: Levi is from Glenmora in Rapides Parish and was one of 32 students in his Glenmore High graduating class; Kensley graduated with 500-plus seniors from West Monroe High.

“We were just friends for months,” Levi said.

“For a long time,” Kensley said, “I didn’t want to admit I had a crush on him.”

But she did, and the crush turned into the past six years of being together. Levi dropped to part-time student status for a quarter so the two could even graduate together in Winter 2019.

He proposed the next month. They married January 23, 2021, in Calhoun. And when they returned to the same spot for another wedding in June, they brought along a baby oak.

The couple had written Tech President Dr. Les Guice two months before in hopes they could plant the tree on campus.

“We knew we wanted to plant a tree in Ruston, where we met and fell in love,” Kensley said. “We didn’t think on Tech’s campus would be an option, but Tech was always the dream.”

“We thought maybe we’d plant it at our first apartment,” Levi said. “We didn’t know who to ask at Tech, and then one day we just thought, ‘We’ll write Dr. Guice.’”

In the letter, the two explained their wish, how they’d met, dated, and graduated, and that it would be their “absolute honor” to plant a noble tree on campus for themselves and others to enjoy through the years.

“He answered,” Kensley said, “almost immediately.”

Guice thanked the couple both for “helping us to achieve our goal” of 1,000 noble trees on campus and for “your passion for Louisiana Tech.” He alerted Associate Vice President for Administration and Facilities Sam Wallace to select a “special place for your tree” and grounds superintendent Zach Mays to be in charge of install.

When the day came, building and grounds employees Frank Barber and Lane King had the spot ready.

“I thought we’d show up and someone would hand me posthole diggers and tell me to get after it,” Levi said. “I was ready.”

“But Tech was all prepared; it was perfect,” Kensley said. “They done everything. We couldn’t thank them enough.”

With Kensley, Levi, and Guice watching, Barber and King did the rest. Now, it’s up to Mother Nature.

“It’s in a great spot, between Hale Hall and Woodard (Hall),” Kensley said. “We’re so grateful Tech worked with us and so excited to be able to come back and see it.”

If you would like to donate a tree on the Louisiana Tech campus or help maintain Noble Trees, please give to the Noble Trees Fund with the Louisiana Tech Foundation.