LSYOU Program Holds Summer Closing Ceremony:

08/07/2013 03:43 PM

BATON ROUGE – The LSU College of Human Sciences & Education’s Louisiana State Youth Opportunities Unlimited, or LSYOU, Summer Component Closing Ceremony was held in the E. R. Bo Campbell Auditorium in the Cox Communication Academic Center for Athletes at 1 p.m. on Friday, July 26.

LSYOU is a high school drop-out prevention program for at-risk high school students in 64 schools over 14 Louisiana parishes and districts. According to LSYOU, for the past 27 years the program has served as an outreach to the community, a service learning site to LSU faculty and students, and a place where College of Human Sciences & Education students can learn effective teaching, counseling and data collection techniques. More than 2,063 high school students have participated in LSYOU since 1986, and from 2006 to 2012, LSYOU had an 80-percent high-school graduation rate with 77 percent on-track for TOPS scholarships.

The LSYOU program consists of two key components – a one-time residential summer component followed by a school-year component delivered until students’ high school graduation.

According to LSYOU, the 2013 participants spent three weeks on LSU campus, focusing on academics, work, counseling and recreational activities offered in an environment that emphasizes family security and a sense of belonging.

Participants lived in LSU dormitory housing without cell phones or television. They received on-campus jobs and attended class, following a lifestyle similar to college students. For most participants, this was their first job with pay, allowing them to receive valuable work readiness skills. Days were long with work, class, and then counseling sessions at night. Counseling classes focused on anger management, bullying, abstinence, substance abuse and other sensitive topics that are necessary but often not available. On the weekends participants watched movies, went bowling, visited Blue Bayou and played laser tag.

“I have learned how to be respectful, how to trust and believe in one another,” said participant Leothra Sims. “I also learned to live an independent life. I will take what I have learned at LSYOU and continue to apply it when I leave. I lived as an adult for three weeks and learned real-world experience.”

“Classes at LSYOU are better than school classes, because we get ‘LSYOU’ bucks not grades, we get kindness not hatred, and the help we get here is not the same help you get at school,” said participant Andre Kinchen.

The closing ceremony wrapped up the summer component, where participants received LSYOU Alumni status.

“When you leave LSYOU, you take that friendly, warm feeling, cap it in a bottle and take it home with you,” said participant Andre Kinchen.

Participant Raequelo Heard and Ezra Grant introduced College of Human Sciences & Education Dean Damon Andrew, who spoke about the participants’ unique opportunity to experience LSU by living on campus and visiting important landmarks such as the Union, the Quad and Mike the Tiger’s habitat.

When addressing the students, Andrew explained how he was just as “new” to LSU as them. He also recognized Suzan Gaston, program director since 1986, for her tireless dedication to LSYOU.

“I’m sure you’ve found that the spirit of LSU is infectious; the joy, the hope, passion, and leadership of our people, every single day, is inspiring,” said Andrew. “I hope each of you, like me, is inspired. Inspired to always pursue your goals, no matter the obstacles you encounter; be inspired that one day, LSU hopes to embrace you as a college student; be inspired to tell your siblings and friends about your experiences, so that maybe one day they can attend LSU. Again, congratulations on your great accomplishments, and I wish each of you the best of luck on your bright futures.”  

Participant D’ona English then introduced keynote speaker Judge John Micheal Guidry of the Louisiana Court of Appeals, who followed with an inspiring speech on the importance of staying in school and working hard.  

“My friends that I met at this camp are like my brothers,” said participant Tyler Wesley. “When we are together, we create a brotherhood…Even when we are on the court playing basketball, our brotherhood stands as a team when we dominate our opponents…I’m really going to miss them.”

“I feel that you can understand the life of an average college student by attending this program,” said student Tyarise Stevenson. “You get experience in the work force area and also a chance to express yourself among peers during counseling sessions. LSYOU has really given me an interesting reason to want to continue my time at LSU.”

The College of Human Sciences & Education is a nationally accredited division of LSU. Formed in 2012, CHSE brings together programs and capitalizes on individual strengths to create a dynamic new college that addresses the socially significant issues we face as a state and nation. The college is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Human Resources Education and Workforce Development, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Library and Information Science, the School of Social Work and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer seven undergraduate degree programs and 18 graduate programs, enrolling more than 1,600 undergraduate and 1,000 graduate students. The college is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is continually working to improve its programs. Visit the College of Human Sciences & Education at

Billy  Gomila 
LSU Media Relations

Posted on Wednesday, August 7, 2013