April 21, 2022

Build Ladders

By Glenn

I have often heard it said that most of success is showing up. Well, I have shown up to Southeastern for 27 years now and still have a few years left in me.  The Faculty Senate recognized my career with a Life Time Achievement Award.

My success, however, wasn’t just my life time.  I was lifted up by hundreds around me.  They built ladders for me to climb.

The climb began long ago in Raceland, Louisiana.  My Mawmaw Melancon was the widow of a sugar mill worker.  She had worked the fields alongside him and then survived his early death.  Mawmaw never refused my request to read Green Eggs and Ham. Her gift of reading opened up so many doors.

Raceland Sugar Mill

My Dad’s decision to join the US Army also created many more opportunities for me.  Not only did the Department of Defense schools provide a world class public education, but my parents showed me the world. I saw historical places first hand as we visited churches, castles, palaces, and museums. 

I will never forget standing in a German bunker above the Normandy beaches. I will never forget looking up at Abraham Lincoln and knowing his contribution to building a better America.  These experiences made history real for me. 

In high school I learned from the Salesians of Don Bosco. They staffed Archbishop Shaw High School. Father Roy and Brother Dave taught us the value of service through their lives. Head Football Coach Hank Tierney stressed the importance of technique and intelligence.

When I went to college, I continued to find support.  In the 1980s states like Louisiana paid 75% of the costs attending college.  My parents could afford the rest of the tuition and room rent.  I only had to pay for the extras.

Luckily, I had my big brother Randy looked out for me.  He ran a sandblasting and painting shop in Morgan City.  I worked for him every school break, hauling sand, moving pallets, scraping rust, or driving a truck.

Since I lived with him, I saved my money to spend while attending University of Southwestern Louisiana.  I didn’t have to work during the semester.  Randy removed that worry, and I enjoyed my college years.

Sometimes I enjoyed myself too much, but eventually I learned moderation and time management.  It didn’t hurt that I found two incredible mentors: Vaughan and Amos Ed Simpson.  They taught me how to be a trained historian.

Amos E. and Vaughan Simpson

Their advice served me well at LSU.  Just as important, however, was finding new mentors.  Meredith Veldman, Victor Stater, Karl Roider and John Henderson helped me develop as a researcher.  They pointed me in the right direction and kept me focused.

Not only did Amos and Vaughan teach me in the classroom, but they introduced me to their professional friends at the Southwestern Social Sciences Association.  It was at a SSSA Annual Meeting that I meet Ed Byrd and Ingrid Westmoreland from Southeastern.

By coincidence Dr. Byrd died the year I earned my Ph.D.   Having meet Dr. Westmoreland, it made it easier to apply for the job SE job. Her guidance and support helped me succeed for the past 27 years.

No one made my climb easier than my wife Jackie.  She was there every step from graduate school until today.    I am very fortunate to have her, and so many others, lift me higher than I could go on my own.  I just showed up.

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