Throughout her two decades as guidance counselor at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, Millie Guichard touched countless students’ lives.
“She was very inspirational, and she worked tirelessly to place students in colleges all over this country, and probably around the world, for that matter,” said Holly Houk Cullen, whom Guichard helped significantly through difficult times. “If a student was looking to go to college somewhere, and that individual needed financial assistance or any kind of help whatsoever getting into that particular campus, she was there to help them, to make sure that it happened.”
Cullen shared that Guichard’s job was never over. She worked long hours to maintain an awareness of the opportunities for her students, and helped many students through serious personal issues.
Betty Quaschnick Lennon, Cullen’s lifelong friend, added that Guichard often attended former students’ major life events, including Cullen’s wedding. “Every student that went through Franklin while she was a counselor became her family,” she said. “She treated all of the students like they were her own.”
Lennon, Cullen and other alumni showed their appreciation for Guichard by endowing an oak at LSU when her health began to decline. Cullen and Lennon created a Facebook group, an easy way to reach out to former classmates and draw support for the endowment. “Reading people’s comments shows the impression she made,” Cullen said.
They met the threshold for the endowment within a year.
“When I think of LSU’s campus, the oak tree immediately comes to mind as one of the iconic images of campus,” Cullen shared. “One of the reasons it is such a wonderful, scenic place is because of the oaks. I feel like the oak represents strength and persistence and courage, and all of the things that Millie was about.”
Cullen and Lennon were able to delight Guichard with a framed photo of her tree (below) before she passed away last summer.
“Of all the colleges, [LSU] was near and dear to her heart. She was a huge LSU fan, and she recruited into her 80s for LSU,” Cullen said.
Cullen, who serves the university as an assistant vice chancellor in the Office of Communications & University Relations, would often mail recruiting materials to her former mentor. “She loved receiving those materials and being aware of everything that was going on on campus. She just adored LSU.”
Lennon added, “The expression that y’all have, ‘Love Purple, Live Gold,’ she embodied that. That describes Millie Guichard to a ‘T.’ She wanted nothing but the best for everybody.”
Published in Cornerstone Summer and Fall 2014.