Five McNeese State
University alumni, a fraternity and a sorority were recognized at the 3rd
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 - identifies community leaders who have had a significant impact
on McNeese and the black community. Established in the spring of 2011, the BAC has
awarded almost $18,000 in scholarships to 19 McNeese students.
This yearís recipients are: educator and former
Calcasieu Parish Police Juror Elizabeth Conway Griffin (1983, 2011); retired chemist and
educator Norma Guillory (1972, 1985 and 1990); retired Col. Anthony "TonyĒ Polk (1967); retired mathematics educator William
Proctor Sr. (1959); music educator Mickey Smith Jr. (2004, 2008); Bernard
Beaco, representing the Epsilon Phi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity; and Christiana M. White, representing Lambda
Gamma Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
Griffin, of Lake Charles, received a Bachelor of Arts
degree in special education and a Master of Education degree in educational technology
from McNeese. She was the first African-American woman to serve on the Calcasieu
Parish Police Jury and also serve as its president, was the first
African-American woman to serve as president of the Louisiana Police Jury
Associationís Black Caucus and was the first African-American woman to serve as
chair of the Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission.
She is a member of the Beta Kappa Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta.
Guillory, of Lake Charles,
received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1972, her Master of Education in
biology education in 1985 and her Masterís plus 30 in education in 1990 from
McNeese. Guillory was the first African-American elected to the McNeese LaBelle
Court and is a charter member of the Lambda Gamma Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta. She
has worked in the local petrochemical industry and as an educator for over 25
years in Calcasieu Parish, teaching at St.
Louis Catholic High School and LaGrange High School. She was also a high school
science consultant for the Calcasieu Parish School Board. Guillory is past president
of the Louisiana Science Teachers Association, former member of the Honors and
Awards Committee of the National Science Teachers Association and committee
member that developed the State of Louisiana High School Science Graduation
Polk, of Manassas, Virginia, received his Bachelor of
Science degree in medical technology from McNeese. He was the first black medical
technology graduate and the first black student to be commissioned a military
officer from McNeese. He served for 30 years in the military and was often the
first black officer in his field on multiple assignments. He commanded
thousands of military and civilian personnel throughout the Pacific, Europe,
including NATO, and the United States. In
his final assignment in the Pentagon, he was in charge of blood research and
the provision of blood products to all U.S. military medical facilities
worldwide, in peace or war. Following his military retirement, Polk served 15
years as the first black executive for the American Red Cross National Headquarters
Blood Services in Washington, D.C. He is a recipient of several honors and was
inducted into the Army Medical Department Order of Military Medical Merit Hall
Proctor, of Lake Charles, received his Bachelor of
Arts degree in elementary education at McNeese and his Master of Education
degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He worked 40 years as a
mathematics teacher at five schools in the Calcasieu Parish School System.
the community, he served as a Boy Scout and Cub Scout Master and as a Little
League basketball coach.
Smith, of Sulphur,
received his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from McNeese. A
teacher, saxophonist, speaker and author, Smith is a three-time Teacher of the
Year nominee and a four-time nominee and two-time Top 10 finalist for The
GRAMMY Foundationís Music Education Award. He serves as president of
MusicMakers2U, a local non-profit that provides donated instruments to
deserving youth in the Lake Area, and is a board member with Jazz in the Arts
and Christian Youth Theater. As a Louisiana Ambassador, he travels with members of the Louisiana Tourism Department to
promote the state around the country.
Two black student Greek
organizations - Kappa Alpha Psi and Zeta Phi Beta Ė have a rich history and are
integral parts of Greek life on the McNeese campus.
Kappa Alpha Psi was
founded in 1911 on the campus of Indiana University Bloomington. The McNeese Epsilon
Phi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi was chartered on Nov. 2, 1969, by Albert
Bellanger, Jerry Golden, Joseph Guillory, Willie Johnson and Donald Pitre. The
chapter was the first black Greek-lettered fraternity on campus and the first
Louisiana chapter of the fraternity to break color barriers at a predominantly
Zeta Phi Beta was
founded in 1920 in Washington, D.C., and the Lambda Gamma City Chapter became
the first African-American sorority in Lake Charles, which was established in
1966 by Thelma Y. Thomas. Thomas was also instrumental in establishing the McNeese
Lambda Gamma Chapter in 1969, which was the first African-American sorority on
campus and the first African-American undergraduate chapter on a predominantly
white campus west of the Mississippi.
Recipients are from left to right: Back row: Bernard
Beaco, Col. Anthony Polk and Mickey Smith Jr. Front row: Elizabeth Conway
Griffin, Norma Guillory, William Proctor and Christiana M. White.