Student Spotlight: Anne Brasseaux on why she chose the Ogden Honors College over Yale

February 23, 2023

Ani Brasseaux

Anne "Ani" Brasseaux showing a fellow student how to Cajun two-step

Growing up in New Haven, Connecticut as the daughter of a Yale dean and faculty member, Ogden Honors freshman Anne “Ani” Brasseaux dreamed of being a student at the Ivy League university. It’s hard to look past the prominence and prestige of an institution like Yale, but Brasseaux found that her deep family connection to the culture and traditions of Louisiana would alter her decision of where to attend college.

Brasseaux did get into Yale. And so, the big question becomes, why choose LSU and the Ogden Honors College?

“I grew up on Yale's campus, and after I found out I was accepted, all of my friends kind of assumed that’s where I was going. When I would tell them I was still deciding, they were shocked to learn I had started to consider LSU,” she said.   

Choosing the Ogden Honors College meant coming home for Brasseaux. Born in Lafayette, she and her brother were the first in their family to grow up outside of Louisiana. “We moved to Connecticut after Hurricane Katrina because my dad got into grad school, so I’ve been away from Louisiana since I was three years old,” she explained. “But we come back to see family every year and my parents raised us like we never left.” Brasseaux’s grandfather Carl Brasseaux is a pioneer in the field of Cajun Studies, best known as a historian and educator specializing in French Colonial North America. 

“I applied to LSU because most of my family had gone here. I hadn't really thought about coming here, but I saw an opportunity to be closer to the rest of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents on both sides of my family and connect with the culture I was raised with but never really got to experience,” she said. 

“After learning about the Honors College, I really felt like LSU was a viable option. The scholarships made it affordable for me even as an out-of-state student,” she noted. “But, what really sealed the deal was when Dean Earle reached out to me directly. I was on a field trip and I remember seeing the 225 area code, so I thought it was my great uncle calling to see how I was doing, but it was actually Dean Earle. He left a message saying to call back and I thought there was something wrong with my application and I wasn’t going to get in, but it was just him letting me know that he wanted students like me at LSU and that meant a lot to me,” she recalled. 

Earle confirmed reaching out to Brasseaux, who was awarded a prestigious Hans and Donna Sternberg Scholarship. “First of all, Anne’s essay was original and brilliant. Her grades were stellar. She was clearly someone who could excel here and be a leader on the Honors campus,” he said. “But when I found out she had these deep family connections, I thought we might actually turn her.”

Aside from her cultural ties to Louisiana, Brasseaux gave a lot of thought to an environment where she could be successful academically. “At my high school, 16 kids in a classroom was considered big. One thing I was worried about if I came to LSU was what I was going to do in a 100 person lecture or how I was going to navigate a campus with 35,000 people when my graduating class was 80 students?” said Brasseaux. “The honors college is structured in a way that the classes are small, I’m able to interact one on one with my professors, and I’ve been able to make friends with students with the same drive and determination to be successful at LSU and beyond.”

Brasseaux also wanted to confirm that LSU could offer the type of world-class education that Yale is known for. LSU, like Yale, has an “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity" designation from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This means LSU conferred a competitive number of research/scholarship doctorates and reports at least $5 million in total research expenditures. But what sealed the deal was getting matched with a job in Dr. Ryoichi Teruyama’s lab, where Brasseaux is able to use LSU’s President’s Student Aide program to conduct research even as a first semester freshman. “The honors college curriculum encourages students to study abroad, participate in undergraduate research, and pursue passions and projects outside of the classroom, which, in conjunction with the ability to connect with my family and culture, made LSU and the Ogden Honors College the right choice for me.”  

As a biological sciences major in LSU’s College of Science hoping to attend medical school someday, Brasseaux is researching oxytocin receptors expressing neurons in the brain. “I had only worked there for a couple days and I was already taking samples of brain sections from the mice. I was not expecting to dive in like that, but it has been such a cool experience,” said Brasseaux.

“Choosing the Ogden Honors College at LSU is, without question, the best decision Ani has made across her academic career. Accessibility ultimately informed her decision: intimate and meaningful accessibility to faculty and access to deep cultural experiences made LSU the perfect choice,” said her parents Ryan and Jessika Brasseaux. 

Dean Earle still seems to be savoring his recruiting victory over that other university in New Haven. “I knew we had a good chance at recruiting Anne,” he said, “but I wasn’t sure she’d come until she booked a visit. That’s usually when I know a student is serious - and the more we get prospective students on our beautiful campus, attending an honors seminar, meeting our students…the better chance we have to recruit,” he said. “And when she asked if it would be possible to attend a Tigers baseball game in Alex Box stadium during her visit, well, I had a pretty good feeling that would seal the deal.”