Six McNeese State
University alumni were recognized at the annual Trailblazer Awards program
sponsored by the McNeese Black Alumni Chapter.
This program - which raises money to support the BAC
Scholarship Fund established with the McNeese Foundation - recognizes community leaders who have had a significant impact on
McNeese and the black community.
This yearís recipients are: attorney James Benton III
(2001); retired educator and counselor Shirley Winey Brown (1963, 1970); health
care administrator Thomas K. Clemons II (1991, 1995); retired educator and Roman
Catholic priest Dr. Whitney G. Harris (1973); advance practice registered nurse
and clinical health care CEO Nona M. Leday (1983, 1999); and music educator Don
A. McZeal (1975).
Benton, of Baton Rouge, received his Bachelor of Science degree
in criminal justice from McNeese and his Juris Doctorate from Southern
University Law Center. He is a staff attorney for the Louisiana Senate and also
has a private law practice.
Benton has served over 20 years as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves and was
deployed for both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom as a part
of the 336th Fincom. He is currently a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve Judge
Advocate General and a member of the 154th Legal Support Organization.
Brown, of Lake Charles,
received her Bachelor of Arts degree in counseling and guidance and her Master
of Education degree in elementary education from McNeese. She worked for the
Lake Charles City School System in both First and Second Ward Schools, served
as the Calcasieu Parish Region 5 Vocational Evaluator, and for 17 years, served
as the counselor at Mossville School. She retired from the school system in
Clemons, of Lake
Charles, received both his Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and
his Master of Business Administration degree from McNeese. Clemons has over 20 years
experience in health care administration in both the public and private sector.
He is co-owner and strategic partner of PrideStaff, a local staffing franchise.
He has served on the board of directors for the Louisiana Council on Human
Relations, Greater Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP, Louisiana Emergency
Management Disability and Aging Coalition and the Louisiana Health Care
Harris, of Lake
Charles, received his Bachelor of Arts degree in special education at McNeese,
his masterís degree in special education and psychology from Louisiana State
University, a doctorate in
education from the Union Institute and University and degrees in theology from the University of Ottawa and St. Paul University in Canada.
He has served as a secondary educator,
university professor and administrator at several institutions including
McNeese. Harris has also served in numerous church parishes including Sacred
Heart Catholic Church in Lake Charles. His has been a member of the Association
for Affirmative Action, American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International
and Southern Poverty Law Center.
Leday, of Lake Charles,
received both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in nursing
from McNeese. Leday, founder and CEO of Eternity Health Care Clinic and Learning
Institute, is currently the clinical coordinator of the nurseís assistance
program at Infinity College in Lafayette. She has served 19 of her 35 years in
nursing as a cardiovascular advance practice registered nurse with a primary
focus on hypertension, diabetes and renal failure. She has served as vice
president of the board of directors for the Potterís House.
McZeal, of Lake
Charles, received his Bachelor of Music degree from McNeese. He has taught
music 33 years with the Calcasieu Parish School System and seven years with
Vernon Parish School System. He has also served as choir director for Mt.
Pilgrim Baptist Church for the last 50 years and choir director/musician for
Reeves CME Temple for the last 39 years. McZeal is a member of Phi Mu Alpha
Sinfonia Professional Music Fraternity, Kiwanis Club of North Lake Charles and the
McNeese Black Alumni Chapter, as well as several local, state and national
professional educators associations.