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SOWELA Foundation Honors Local Leaders at 4th Annual What’s Up, SOWELA

Fundraising event showcases advocates’ impact on education in Southwest Louisiana

LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA – October 25, 2019

The SOWELA Foundation honored several people at last night’s 4th annual What’s Up, SOWELA scholarship fundraiser. The SOWELA Leadership Awards highlight philanthropists, students, faculty and staff for making strides in higher education. Award recipients include the following:

Phillips 66 – 2019 Excellence in Leadership Award
Phillips 66 has been an important partner over the years. They exemplify leadership by establishing innovative workforce programs like the competitive Operator Internship that provides students the opportunity to gain hands-on plant experience. Phillips 66 recognized the need for real-world training and implemented this program to increase student’s skillset along with their confidence.

Buddy Leach – 2019 Excellence in Advocacy and Philanthropy
Mr. Leach has served Southwest Louisiana and SOWELA in different ways over time. He is quick to determine needs and advocate at both the local and state level for solutions. During Mr. Leach’s tenure in the state legislature, he passed legislation establishing the Central Louisiana Vo-Tech School to bring technical education to that part of the state. He joined the SOWELA Foundation’s Board of Directors and continued to advocate for technical education, specifically for scholarship funding to help students obtain training and education that would lead to high-demand, high-wage position in the local economy. Mr. Leach continues to support SOWELA with his expertise and compassion for students.

Vivian Barrilleaux – 2019 “I am SOWELA” Award
Ms. Vivian Barrilleaux is a great example of a student who has found her passion at SOWELA and endeavors to excel every day. She can often be found helping fellow Graphic Arts classmates, and even faculty, when extra attention to a matter is needed. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA and participated in extracurricular activities including SkillsUSA, where she won a national gold medal as part of a Television Production Team, as well as a silver one for her State Pin design. She has won several American Advertising awards and her graphic designs were chosen for both the Chennault Airshow and the SOWELA Student Art Show poster. Ms. Barrilleaux truly embodies the hardworking, high-achieving student SOWELA is proud support with this recognition.

On Thursday, November 7, 2019, the SOWELA Foundation will honor the following award recipients:

TC Energy – 2019 Excellence in Workforce Development
TC Energy and SOWELA have partnered to create a Pipeline Academy on the Lake Charles campus. TC Energy will serve in an advisory capacity to ensure program curriculum and implementation align with industry standards and expectations. TC Energy is committed to supporting the workforce of nearly 45,000 current Louisianans employed by the oil and gas industry. The new Academy will help fill a growing number of energy industry jobs and provide specific pipeline training in South Louisiana and surrounding areas for years to come.

Marie Coleman, Ph.D. – 2019 Excellence in Instruction Award
Dr. Coleman exemplifies all that is valuable and admirable about teaching. She possesses an impeccable work ethic and goes above and beyond in her professional associations. She is a tireless champion for her students and SOWELA and sets a high standard for all who come in contact with her, students and colleagues alike. Dr. Coleman focuses on the success of her students not only while they are in her classroom, but also after they leave the College and enter the workforce.

Jeanine Newman – 2019 Excellence in Service Award
SOWELA would like to recognize our own Vice Chancellor of Finance, Ms. Jeanine Newman, for her measured, effective, and often unseen diligence. As a member of the Executive Leadership Team, she leads by example and can always be counted on to provide keen insight and straightforward explanations about complex financial and budgetary information. Through Ms. Newman’s careful oversight and collaboration with both internal and external partners, SOWELA has been able to expand the College’s reach and use of available resources to provide cutting edge technology in our academic programs, preparing our students for entry into the workplace.

Rebecca Boniol, Mark Dodge – 2019 Leading the Way in Collaborative Partnerships Award
Ms. Boniol approached SOWELA with an innovative internship idea. She had a need for qualified, skilled auto mechanics for her auto dealership and knew that working with SOWELA’s Vehicle Maintenance and Repair Technology students on a personal level might encourage them to seek post-graduation employment with her company. She established a scholarship fund and requested students be referred to her management team for a paid internship at Mark Dodge.  Working with SOWELA instructors, she ensured that students learned the necessary skills to succeed at any dealership, rolling the dice that they would chose hers upon graduation. Her willingness to take a chance on these students is an indication of her commitment to the future automotive repair workforce, regardless of where the students ultimately choses to work. With this one program, Ms. Boniol, has paved the way for another collaborative partnership to be established and we thank her and recognize her example of true leadership.

Ken Francis, Coca Cola – 2019 Leading the Way and Sharing Community Spirit
Coca Cola has been a SOWELA supporter for many years. They can be counted on to not only provide generous student scholarship funds, but to supply Coke products for a multitude of SOWELA events. Mr. Francis never hesitates to go above and beyond for the College, and for that we are thankful and appreciative. Coke can be seen throughout the community at different events, and the company is an excellent example of a large corporation with a personal touch.  Serving the community is one of Coca Cola’s core values and they believe that their business can only prosper if the communities in which they live and operate are strong and vibrant. Mr. Francis lives this mission every day and we a proud to have his and Coca Cola’s support.

About the SOWELA Foundation
The SOWELA Foundation promotes community stewardship and empowers students of SOWELA Technical Community College to launch their careers through scholarships, professorships, staff development, technological advancements, program improvements, and capital expansion. Donations go directly to the College to help provide students with a world class education in Southwest Louisiana. For more information, visit www.sowela.edu.