5 Steps to a Cajun Thanksgiving

danielleDanielle Ford is currently pursuing a dual Masters in Higher Education Administration & Public Administration and is a Graduate Assistant for Student Advocacy & Accountability.  
Danielle is from Baton Rouge, LA and studied abroad twice: Paris in 2009 and London, Brussels, & Paris in 2011-2012.

As a Baton Rouge native and LSU alumna, I know a thing or two about Cajun cuisine. As the President of the Thanksgiving Fan Club (not a real thing, but maybe I should invent it!), I’m positive I know a lot about Turkey Day. If this is your first holiday season in Louisiana, there is a lot you should know about how to celebrate a proper Cajun Thanksgiving, and as a self-appointed expert, I’m here to help you out!

1. Dressing, dressing & more dressing! In Cajun Country, we are connoisseurs of dressing of all types: we have cornbread dressing, rice dressing, crawfish dressing, oyster dressing, and andouille sausage dressing just to name a few. Your choice of dressing just might make or break your Cajun Thanksgiving.

2. Turkey does not reign supreme. In many Cajun households, turkey is just one of the many meat options served on Thanksgiving. Traditionally in my family, we prepare deep fried turkey, baked turkey, ham, roasted chicken or Cornish hens, and of course gumbo! It’s not that we don’t love turkey; we do! But when we cook a meal on Thanksgiving, we like to go all out!

pie3. It’s all about the sweet potatoes and pecans. For most Cajun households, we cannot live without some kind of dish made with sweet potatoes and/or pecans. You’ll often find a platter of candied yams, mashed sweet potatoes, sweet potato casserole (topped with pecans!) and an assortment of sweet potato and pecan pies – no pumpkin found here!

4. Thanksgiving is for college football. We all know that traditionally, the Detroit Lions play (and lose) their annual Thanksgiving Day NFL game. But in many Cajun households, the biggest sporting event of the year is the annual “Bayou Classic” featuring the Southern University Jaguars against the Grambling State University Tigers. Usually held the Saturday after Thanksgiving at the Mercedes-Benz SuperDome in New Orleans, the Bayou Classic is a staple. While many love to watch the longstanding football rivalry come to a head, even more fans salivate for the “Battle of the Bands” competition the night before the game. If you’ve never seen a HBCU’s band play, make sure to turn in during this year’s Bayou Classic Weekend for a real treat! #GeauxJags

5. We Are Family! Thanksgiving is all about family. But if you can’t spend the day with your biological family, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the day. Get a group of friends together and have your own Friendsgiving. If you’re from out of town, see if you can be the guest of a local friend. As long as you bring a few cases of Coke and an empty stomach, you’re sure to be welcomed in with open arms!

Here’s a tried and true recipe for Sweet Potato Pie!

Pura Vida Mae! My Study Abroad Experience

ciCierra Burnett is a Memphis Native.  She is currently a Masters student in the Higher Education Administration program and works as a Graduate Assistant for LSU’s Office of Community-University Partnerships.

I never realized just how much studying abroad would change my life. My 10-day excursion to the rich land of Costa Rica was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in my life. In those few, short days, I fell in love with Cumbia dancing, ate more plantains and gallo pinto than my stomach could hold, practiced my Spanish while chatting with locals, and stood at the edge of a volcano as the sun rose. I gazed in awe at the beautiful architecture of the Teatro Nacional and imagined the people who entered its doors hundreds of years ago.

ci2One of the moments I will always cherish most from the trip was a conversation that I had with a man hula hooping in Parque Central in San Jose. He said something so profound that it has stuck with me since: “Your comfort zone is your dead zone.” When he said those words, I was so moved by the meaning behind them. It was basically like saying that every moment spent afraid to step out of your comfort zone is killing you; And it’s true. I am so glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone and decided to take on this adventure. I entered Costa Rica an apprehensive American, but I really do believe that I left Costa Rica as a Tica (a colloquial term for a Costa Rica native). I did everything that I could to embrace the culture, the people, and the language of Costa Rica, and that made all the difference.

I wish that every single student would make an effort to study abroad at least once in their college career. It was more meaningful and transformative than any other involvement opportunity that I took advantage of, and my life has been forever changed because of it.  I encourage your students to visit the LSU Study Abroad website at http://abroad.lsu.edu/ to gain more information on how they too could have a life-changing experience like I did.


Trick-Or-Treat Down the Row

headshot-2Camille Beste is a senior from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She is an active member of Greek Life, serving as the current Panhellenic President and has held positions on the Greek Board of Directors, as well as within her own chapter. Her favorite spot on campus is the fourth floor of the Student Union (shhhh it’s a secret spot).

One of the most popular traditions of LSU Greek Life is the annual Trick-or-Treat Down the Row sponsored by the LSU Panhellenic Council (PHC). Held the Sunday before Halloween, this event brings hundreds of families to campus. West Lakeshore Drive, also known as Sorority Row, is blocked off for this two-hour event. Children can go door-to-door to all of the sorority houses and get candy from chapter members. Most sororities even threw in a theme. These ranged from Luau to Decades. Houses also have crafts, face-painting, and photo booths. This year, the costumes were awesome! There were lots of little Golden Girls walking down the row, as well as quite a few Ghost Busters and Wizard of Oz characters. Some families even bring their dogs; Chewbacca stood out the most to me. Overall, this event brings lots of joy to sorority row at a time of year when school is often getting the best of students. This year was a special year, as LSU Athletics got on board and brought some of LSU’s top athletes to the row to take pictures with Trick-or-Treaters. That was certainly a huge treat for all members of the family!


Trick-or-Treat Down the Row is not just limited to the housed sororities on West Lakeshore. The Interfraternity Council (IFC) posted up in front of the LSU Systems Building. IFC Exec members handed out candy and learned quickly this year that it is very easy to underestimate the amount of candy needed for the event. Sigma Alpha and Sigma Lambda Gamma, Panhellenic’s two un-housed sororities, were stationed along the row as well to hand out candy. Several fraternities that are housed on West Lakeshore also participated. Phi Kappa Psi truly was the life of the party. These men jammed out to a wide range of (family friendly) tunes. There was a line down their driveway, onto the row, as children lined up to give their best shot at the dunk tank. It is such a treat to see fraternity men and sorority women thoroughly enjoying their time with kids of all ages. I think I can speak on behalf of the entire Greek Life community when I say that I still believe I am young enough to be one of the kids trick-or-treating.

One incredible aspect of this event is that it is truly geared toward the Baton Rouge community. It is not limited to Greek members, like many Fraternity and Sorority events are. Word is spread to LSU faculty and staff members, as well as in many elementary schools in the surrounding areas. Families look forward to this event every year. Maybe it’s the fun that comes with the day, or maybe parents are looking for another chance to get some wear out of those costumes that can certainly cost quite a bit of money. I’m going to say that the event itself is the main draw for most families. Growing up in Baton Rouge, I attended this event many times as a child. Being on the other end of the event and helping to facilitate it is like a full-circle journey for me.

This year, Panttdtr-2-copyhellenic collected monetary donations at each trick-or-treat stop for their local philanthropy, Live2Serve. These monetary donations will be used to purchase clothing and toys for children from at-risk families who are not able to provide gifts for their children during the holiday season. This is an ongoing campaign for all of the Panhellenic sororities, and Panhellenic was thrilled to be able to involve families from outside the Greek community.

I think it is certainly safe to say that everyone who participated in Trick-or-Treat Down the Row, from the sorority women and fraternity men, to the families who came out to gather some candy, cannot wait for next Halloween! If your Tiger is a member of a Greek organization, encourage them to get involved with this event next year. If you are from the Baton Rouge area, I highly recommend that you check this event out; the costumes seem to get better and better each year, so start planning now!

Another OUTSTANDING Family Weekend

khalif-laticia-2Laticia Khalif is a member of LSU’s Family Association Council and parent of a sophomore at LSU. She resides in Milton, GA and is a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket who has learned to Love Purple and Live Gold.

My family loves LSU Family Weekend for a host of reasons and after this past Family Weekend, we have decided that we will continue to attend as long as my daughter is a student at LSU. As an out of state parent, I don’t get the luxury of seeing my daughter every weekend. As a matter of fact, I don’t get the luxury of seeing her on a monthly basis. With the expense associated with flying back and forth to Baton Rouge or even the time needed to drive between Louisiana and Georgia, opportunities just don’t present themselves.


Therefore, every opportunity counts. And timing wise, I have found the timing of Family Weekend and the Spring Event are PERFECT! Unbeknownst to my daughter or myself, the events seemed to be planned right at that time when students, typically those who live out of state, begin to yearn for that “touch point” or connection to HOME!  Specifically, last year when my daughter was a freshman, I found after moving in mid-August, that by October (and in particular, leading up to Family Weekend) she was MORE THAN READY to see her family. Imagine the big smile on my face when she started the 10-day COUNTDOWN. So, given that she was an out of state student who had mentally prepared herself to not come home until Thanksgiving, I was so excited and filled with relief when we both realized that I had made the right decision in planning to attend Family Weekend. WHEW!!! And… when most kids are embarrassed by their over eager Aunties, God Mother and mom, she seemed to relish the moment and beamed with pride at our “silliness”.


That is why we came again this year. And that is why we are coming again next year. So, from the perspective of an out of state parent, Family Weekend matters! And as much as we enjoy the city, the food, experiencing The Chimes, Roux 61, and  TJ RIBS for the 99 cent Margaritas at least 2 times during the weekend, and not to mention just roaming around the campus, going to the volleyball games, and more importantly, getting a chance to experience LSU in Death Valley; Family Weekend, to us, is truly about spending time with my daughter, meeting her new family and friends, and reinforcing the love that we all have for her in her home away from home.


LSU Homecoming Court 2016

drakeDrake Boudreaux serves as a student assistant for Parent & Family Programs.  Drake is from Lafayette, LA and pursuing a degree in Mass Communication-Digital Advertising.

Serving as a senior class representative on LSU’s 2016 Homecoming Court is, without doubt, one of the highest honors I’ve ever received. Representing the university in such a unique way has allowed me to reflect on everything the university has done for me. In my past three years at LSU, I have found myself being molded in to a more rational, confident and enthusiastic leader and community member. LSU taught me to be open-minded, in all aspects of the phrase, and that open mindedness is the foundation upon which my LSU experience was built.

With a population exceeding 30,000 people on campus, LSU brings together students and faculty from every corner of the world. Stepping on campus for the first time, I was immediately exposed to viewpoints, backgrounds, cultures and beliefs that were completely foreign to me. It was in this unfamiliarity that I learned how important it is for students keep an open mind, because only then are we able to truly recognize that our differences are what make us both unique and beautiful. Whether I was encountering thousands of incoming students and their parents at orientation or studying abroad in Greece, LSU afforded countless opportunities to me to expand my perception of the world and discover new facets of myself in the process. As a result of these new opportunities and relationships, I was challenged to find the confidence to pursue excellence. The students at this university are confident in their decisions and hold themselves to a higher standard. Being surrounded by such an ambitious group of peers instilled in me a stronger sense of conviction that has allowed me to go beyond my comfort zone and fearlessly explore undiscovered capabilities.  Never in a million years did I think I would have the confidence to speak in front of hundreds on behalf of the university or even sing a solo on the Union Theatre stage, but LSU empowered me to do so.


Another thing I gained from my LSU experience is wholeheartedly displaying unwavering and relentless passion for the university. There is a raw spirit that emanates from the students, faculty and staff that is truly indescribable. I have had the opportunity to participate in numerous organizations that not only call for this passion in their members, but who also strive to fuel that passion around our campus community. Whether I was happily losing my voice cheering along participants at STRIPES or representing LSU’s unique spirit before other universities at regional conferences, I have appreciated the unique chances that I’ve had to display my passion for this place. I believe LSU instills the mentality that we are here to walk across a stage in four years and receive a highly respected degree, but we are going to passionately enjoy the unique time we have here. I have embraced that mentality. Needless to say, attending LSU has transformed me in to an individual that I am very proud to be and to represent a school that has done so much for me at such a special time has been a truly incredible experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.


Perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of the experience was that I got share the day with my family. While I have enjoyed being extremely involved at LSU, unfortunately it has prevented me from spending as much time as I would like in my hometown, Lafayette, with the family that has made it possible for me to be here. Regardless of how many birthday parties, crawfish boils, or weddings that I’ve missed over the years, my family’s relentless and unwavering support has absolutely been the reason I’ve been able to accomplish everything I have at LSU. So this past Saturday when I was able to treat them to such a special event for LSU, it made the past few years of stress and many sleepless nights all worth it. Their attendance gave me a chance to immerse them in the culture that I’ve fallen in love with over my time here, and for that I am

In addition to all that mushy gushy stuff, being on LSU’s Homecoming Court is just a really cool experience. The process began with an extensive application, being invited to attend an interview, participating in an interview and finally being selected to be a part of a group of 16 of LSU students from all over campus. Getting to know all the members of court and share in the unique experience with them was really so much fun. I was honored to spend my last homecoming alongside some of the universities best and brightest.

drake-2In addition, Campus Life does an amazing job filling homecoming week with a ton of exciting events that get students engaged in addition to giving back to the community. All these events culminated on Saturday, the day that hosted most of the events for court. We began with a parade that wrapped around the exterior of campus. I mean come on, who wouldn’t want to ride in a corvette and throw beads at tiger fans screaming “Geaux Tigers!” as if their lives depended upon it? We then attended a luncheon with our families in the student union, with Miss LSU and the past LSU Homecoming King and Queen as guest speakers. One of my favorite parts of the day was marching down victory hill behind the Golden Band from Tigerland. Our day concluded in Tiger Stadium watching the tigers take on Missouri and walk down the 50 yard line at halftime to crown this year’s king and queen. Being on LSU’s Homecoming Court truly was an unforgettable experience and one that I consider myself very lucky to have been a part of.

Study Hard. Study Smart.

kolbyKolby Ledbetter served as the Orientation Leader for undeclared students for the past three years. He is a senior from Marshall, TX and is majoring in English with a concentration in Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture. He is involved in LSU Ambassadors, Student Government, the STRIPES program, and is a former Supplemental Instructor for the Center for Academic Success. His favorite spot on campus is the first floor of Middleton Library, across from CCs.”


Hey tigers and tiger families!
Everyone’s ~favorite~ week in October is right around the corner. Midterms.
This is my seventh round of midterms coming up, so here are a few pieces of advice from a graduating senior on how to destroy those midterms like Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball.

#1: Start studying NOW.
Can you tell me the basic concepts that you covered in your classes during the first and second weeks of school? How about how those concepts connect to what you’re learning this week?
Every day, after every class, just that 15 minutes to debrief the information you learned. Reviewing it while it’s fresh on your mind will help you compartmentalize it and organize it better.

#2: Do not pull an all-nighter in Middleton.
I know the CCs is open until midnight, and that is truly wonderful. They have muffins. Believe me. I understand.
But putting your mind and body through the stress of an all-nighter, drinking huge amounts of coffee, and staying in one spot for hours is not going to get you anywhere. Not only is it bad for your body, it’s bad for your working memory, an apparatus in your brain that moderates between what is going on around and what information has already been stored in your mind.
Coming from a former (okay, current) procrastinator, start early and get sleep. Sleep is so important and beds are so comfy. Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep before those tests. Your body, your mind, your sanity will all thank you later.

#3: Study in chunks and give yourself breaks.
I’m not suggesting that you study for 15 minutes and reward yourself with an episode of Parks and Rec. But keep in mind that your brain might work better in sprint-and-rest mode. Not marathon mode. Give yourself chunks of times that are for a break and find something constructive to do – walk around for a minute or text a family member that you love them.

Lastly – take advantage of the resources around you. If you look at something now and don’t understand it, visit the Center for Academic Success in Coates or Middleton, email your professor or TA, visit office hours, and go to SI sessions. These programs are put on campus to help you succeed. You pay for them, so take advantage of that fact!

Most importantly, remember that your value and worth is not defined by a number or letter that you get in a class. If this midterms week doesn’t go well for you, remember that there is always time to bounce back. Making mistakes is okay. Our brains are wired to work that way!

Good luck tigers!

Finally A Tiger

alyssaHi parents and families!  My name is Alyssa Wehle and I am excited to work with LSU families and their students as the new graduate assistant for Parent & Family Programs.  I am a central Florida native and attended the University of West Florida in Pensacola for my undergraduate degree in Communications.  After graduating in 2015, I worked for my sorority as a Chapter Consultant.  Currently, I am a pursuing my master’s degree in Higher Education Administration.

Although I am a Florida native, I have always bled purple and gold.  I have strong family ties to LSU and I was raised a tiger from the very start.  Anyone who knows me knows that I wore purple and gold ribbons in my hair in grade school, dreamed of being on the Tiger Girls Dance Team, wore LSU apparel daily in high school, and always knew that I would (someday) end up at Louisiana State University.

Well, that ‘someday’ has arrived in 2016 and I am truly thrilled that life has led me to LSU!  Not only am I attending an amazing school that I’ve dreamed of forever, I am also working in an incredible department where I have the chance to interact daily with tigers and their families.  The transition to life in Baton Rouge and on campus has been seamless thanks to the kindness of the Baton Rouge community, the positive campus morale, and the support of faculty and staff.  Coming to LSU is one of the best choices I have made, and I am confident that your tiger feels the same way about their decision.  Geaux Tigers!

GEAUX Get Your Tiger Involved!

lindsey-blog-photoLindsey Powell served as the Orientation Leader for the University Center for Advising and Counseling this past summer. She is a sophomore from New Orleans, LA and is majoring in Biology for Pre-Pharmacy. She is involved with LSU Ambassadors, Student Government, Pre-Pharmacy Club, and Greek Life. Her favorite spot on campus is her sorority house.

This past summer I served as an Orientation Leader here at LSU. One phrase I told to all of my students coming through was “Get Involved!” My students heard it from me, other leaders, upperclassmen friends, and all of the speakers they listened to in those two days. There are so many reasons to get involved in college; Mainly, because it helps students meet so many new people and it brings them countless opportunities.

I think the reason I harp on getting involved so much is because the organizations I’ve joined since I’ve been at LSU have impacted me to a point that I don’t know where I’d be without them or the people I’ve met while being involved in them. Take it from me, since my freshman year I have joined three major student organizations. I became an LSU Ambassador, I hold a position in student government, and I am part of a Greek organization. The coolest part about all three of these organizations is that it brought me to people and gave me friendships I probably would not have had otherwise. I’ve gained best friends, study groups, and even roommates from these organizations. Of course, your student doesn’t have to join every organization that interests them. If they attend a meeting for an organization they think they would like, even if they don’t join it in the end, they may make meaningful connections or gain useful information they never would have without attending.


Here at LSU we have over 400 student organizations. There is something here for everyone, no matter race, religion, personal interests, or talents. We have clubs for just about every major, if not all of them.  Joining that could help your student for the sole purpose of always having a study group. The people they will meet in those major-based clubs will be taking the same classes as them throughout their time at LSU. Or, like me, being a part of the Pre-Pharmacy club allows me to hear from representatives from different universities across the country about their Pharmacy programs and what they have to offer. My membership in this club is opening doors for me by giving me the opportunity to talk to representatives and figure out if one of those schools is where I would like to eventually study.

I wish every freshman tiger could read this, and even the upperclassman that haven’t found their place on campus yet. Meeting people different from yourself and surrounding yourself with people who are both similar and different from you helps you grow as a person. It helps you figure out who you are and find yourself, as well as learn about those who are different from you.

So, while you read this and hear my story, think about your tiger moving away from home and starting a whole new chapter in their life. Encourage them to get involved and to not only make those life-long friendships, but to also open those doors to new opportunities they didn’t get in high school.

An Open Letter to Nervous Parents

Paige pic

Paige Picou will be serving as the University Center for Advising and Counseling POL. She is a Junior Psychology major from Houma, Louisiana. She is involved with LSU Ambassadors, Psi Chi, Freshman Leadership Council, and STRIPES. Her favorite spot on campus is the Bookstore.

Entering college is a time filled with nervousness, excitement, and hopes for the future. While students are packing their things, scheduling their classes, and planning for the experience they’ll have at LSU, there are obviously a lot of emotions involved in the process. However, while most of the attention is rightfully placed on the students themselves, people often forget that this is a very emotional time for the parents as well.

I know as my parents were moving me into my residence hall before the start of my freshman year, they were also filled with excitement for me, nervousness about how well I would adjust, and worries for our future. Not only did they want me to be successful and happy, but this was also the first time in my life that we hadn’t all lived under the same roof, and I know they were going to miss me as much or more than I missed them.PAige blog 1

I can only imagine the stress that goes along with sending your child away to college, but as a student who has faced this experience with my own family, I can assure you that your child can succeed here. LSU has worked tirelessly to try to create programs that can help students academically. The Center for Academic Success provides free walk-in tutoring to students for any subject that they are struggling in. Additionally, supplemental instructors are provided for classes that are typically difficult for students. These supplemental instructors are students who have already taken this particular class and made an A in it and then retake that class to help the new students. They will hold review sessions twice a week with worksheets and a more relaxed environment where students can discuss class material with other students. In addition to the academic resources that this university offers, LSU also has over 400 organizations for students to get involved in, and all of these organizations can be found at www.lsu.edu/tigerlink.

PAige Blog 2

Of course, there will still be times when your student will be frustrated and unsure of what to do next in a particular situation, and there will also be times when your tiger can’t wait to tell you all about the good grade on a test or the great day he or she had. While it can be upsetting to hear that your family members are having a rough day and not be able to immediately fix the situation, I think being a support system for your student is the best thing you can do for him or her. I know that when I want to vent, simply having my parents to listen to and understand what I’m feeling is a great comfort to me because it validates my feelings and makes me feel like I am not alone. They can’t fix all of my problems for me, but they are always there to listen and help me figure out how to solve my problems on my own.

I can assure you that all of the wisdom, advice, and values that you have instilled in your child have prepared him or her to make his or her own decisions here. Your child will absolutely still make mistakes, but with your guidance, your tiger can learn from these mistakes to be even better individuals in the future.


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Learning to Appreciate the Helicopter Parent

Cam photoCameron Frazier will be serving as the 2016 Head Parent Orientation Leader. He is a Senior Mechanical Engineering major from Lacassine, Louisiana. He is an LSU Ambassador and has also been involved with STRIPES, Student Government, and LSU Lacrosse. His favorite spot on campus is Tiger Stadium on Saturday night.

Four springs ago, I sat in a vehicle on my way to Louisiana State University to attend the annual Spring Invitational, an event dedicated to recruiting and orienting high achieving students across the nation. It felt like the first big step in what would be an incredible journey for me on this campus. For reference, I am the only child of two incredibly loving and caring parents. For reasons I probably don’t need to explain here, they can be a bit… hands on when it comes to big steps in my life. Attending this University, as mentioned, was definitely such a step. I’ve learned along the way that this tendency to be so active in my affairs is okay.

Back to Spring Invitational, or SPIN as it is frequently called on campus. As I began to see and experience so many wonderful things this campus has to offer, I was overcome with the urge to be free. I wanted the upcoming fall to begin immediately so I could be on my own and tackle a million and one things. However, fall wasn’t close and I was still a part of our household of three. I wish I knew how many times during those few days I thought or mumbled “Ugh Mom.” She asked questions, she worried, and she probed me every step of the way. I can’t even imagine what she must have been experiencing as the day I would leave suddenly became painfully near. Being the stubborn child I am, though, I only saw my Mom “hovering” over me and wondered when it would end. Fast-forward through several years of wonderful experiences and it turns out that it still hasn’t. But stubborn ol’ Cam learned to appreciate it, not loathe it.

Cam pic 1

The reality is this: The transition into any University from a steady environment can be difficult for every party involved. Parents and guardians will miss their student. Students will miss home and likely never admit such a thing is occurring. Trust me when I say that there is NO reason that interactions between students and family should suffer. My parents are still as involved in my day-to-day as they were then. They still offer to shelter and protect me from two hours away. They are always calm ears I can pursue when I am in need of listening. And yes, at times they still “hover.” Your student will learn to appreciate this readiness to aid and willingness to love eventually. I encourage every family member to allow their student to come to this University and pursue their dreams; never hinder their ability to move forward. But don’t disappear either. We need you. We will always need you. We are here because of you. Allow us to fly and I promise our flight path will bring us back to you.

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