The Laborde family’s passion for LSU began nearly a century ago. Though it was the height of The Great Depression, Lucien’s parents encouraged higher education, and taught their sons and daughter the French concept “noblesse oblige,” that service to God and country is a noble obligation. Lucien and wife Peggy in turn, instilled this love of education and commitment to service in their children, adding LSU to their list of obligations.

“I always had a love of learning, and that carried on throughout my career,” Lucien’s son Luke said. Luke, who was top of his class throughout school, recently earned his third degree from LSU, a doctorate of renewable natural resources.

Two years ago, he discovered that he also loves teaching. When his department found itself short-staffed, he voluntarily put his doctorate work on hold to take over a few classes. “[It’s] one of the best decisions I think I’ve made,” he shared. “I enjoy interacting with the students. They make you so optimistic about our future.”

Luke and his wife, Sonja, decided to find additional ways to help students, and offered to help fundraise for the College of Agriculture’s goal of 100 new freshman scholarships. “The truth is that alumni want to help,” Sonja said, explaining that a tangible project like scholarships inspires them. “LSU alumni are wonderful.”

Luke Laborde with Indie Barbier

The college is halfway to its goal, and Luke is confident that all 100 scholarships will be funded by next fiscal year. “We’re not going to be able to raise 100 endowed scholarships right away, but we can raise $100,000 every year,” he said. “We need to make believers of our College of Agriculture alumni association members in terms of what we can do.”

The couple has included a bequest to the college’s scholarship program in their will, but they also give annually because they believe the need is immediate. “Our hope is to start the gift before we die,” Luke said. “This is what we can do right now.”

“LSU gave us such opportunities,” Sonja added. “We’re both very humbled by that and grateful that we had such opportunities, and would like to see other young people have the same opportunities.”

Luke shared that “Leaving a Legacy,” doesn’t quite express their goal. “What we want to leave is an opportunity.”

 

Published in Cornerstone Winter and Spring 2015.

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