Author Archives: Tisha Arnold

Grambling State to host Brown Girls Do Gymnastics Conference with The Doug Williams Center

Ruston Lincoln Convention & Visitors Bureau supports the conference with eyes on changing the landscape of HBCU sports

Raven Thissel
(318) 436-6860

Grambling, LA – April 24, 2021 – On July 23-25, 2021, Brown Girls Do Gymnastics’ 5th Annual Conference will be hosted on Grambling State University’s campus in collaboration with The Doug Williams Center and Ruston Lincoln Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. The Conference aims to increase exposure and access to gymnastics among women and girls of color, provide mentorship from high-level gymnasts, and offer resources and information for the parents of these young gymnasts. Registration is open now for ages 6 and up to learn advanced gymnastics and acrobatic techniques.

Blazing a Trail for Gymnasts of Color
Just months after the untimely death of the first Black woman to win the U.S.A. Gymnastics national championship, Dianne Durham, Brown Girls Do Gymnastics (BGDG) leads a grassroots initiative to introduce competitive gymnastics to Historically Black Colleges & Universities’ (HBCU) athletic programming. Durham set the world stage for Black American gymnasts, paving a path for stars like Dominique Dawes, Gabby Douglas, and Simone Biles. Following their success, there has been a rise in national participation of young Black women and girls. According to the NCAA Demographics Database, 9% of Division I women gymnasts in 2019 were Black, a significant leap from 4.5% in 2008.

As the sport continues to produce Olympic qualifiers of color, there is a growing need to provide platforms for these athletes to pursue their craft while continuing their education in the safety of inclusive spaces like HBCUs. Because there are no HBCUs currently offering gymnastics programs, those who wish to pursue competitive gymnastics at the college level do not have the option to attend an HBCU. Grambling State University is answering this call by hosting this event and looking to the future.

“Our rich history of athletic excellence and Black firsts makes GSU the perfect home for the first HBCU competitive gymnastics program,” said President Rick Gallot. “The need is clear and we are motivated by the opportunity we can provide for young gymnasts of color. With the right partners and sponsors, we are ready to bring the sport to life right here on our campus and build a platform for young women to advance their athletic and academic pursuits.”

Grambling State has a rich legacy of sports excellence including launching the careers of athletes like NBA champion Willis Reed, quadruple double queen Shakyla Hill and women’s basketball legend Patricia Cage Bibbs. Under the leadership of legendary Coach Eddie Robinson, the University’s football program has sent more players to the NFL than any other HBCU to date. One of those pioneering players was Doug Williams, the first Black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl and now the namesake of Grambling State’s latest advancement arm, The Doug Williams Center. The Center is a learning commons founded to provide research and create real solutions to college and professional sports’ racial and gender disparities. The Center will work in tandem with BGDG and the University’s leadership to elevate access to this sport for prospective HBCU students.

“Access to sports creates opportunities and the lack of said access for Black and brown youth is a social justice issue,” said Raven Thissel, Marketing & PR Director of The Doug Williams Center. “Hosting the Brown Girls Do Gymnastics conference at Grambling State is our first step to introduce a new avenue for advancing girls and women of color.”

BGDG Conference Opens Doors for Young Gymnasts

Former Division 1 gymnast Tia Kaiku, who now attends North Carolina Central University has experienced the hardships associated with the lack of HBCU gymnastics programs.

“Not only is representation important, but it is essential,” Kiaku said. “Hopefully, an HBCU gymnastics program will not only give young African American girls the exposure to gymnastics, but it will also give them the opportunity to take their talents to an HBCU.”

For students like Tia Kaiku, the chance to continue competitive gymnastics at an HBCU means the continuation of their athletic career. The BGDG conference is the first step toward introducing these programs to HBCUs.

“There’s something magical about being on an HBCU Campus whether you’re an alum, student or fan,” said Derrin Moore, founder of Brown Girls Do Gymnastics. “Knowing that the space was created for us by our ancestors is truly amazing. We want our gymnasts to have a chance to experience that while continuing to compete in the sport that they love.”

Previously, four BGDG Conferences have been hosted in Atlanta, GA, and in 2020 one was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 185 families from 15 states have attended along with national judges, elite coaches, and college recruiters who have led workshops for gymnasts and parents.

For more information or to register for the Conference, visit To learn more about investment and sponsorship opportunities for the first HBCU competitive gymnastics program, email or call Grambling State’s Office of Institutional Advancement at 318.274.3330.

About Brown Girls Do Gymnastics
Brown Girls Do Gymnastics is an advocacy organization helping to guide Brown Girls through their acrobatic careers while promoting diversity in the sports of gymnastics and circus. Founded in 2015 by Derrin Moore, BGDG hosts conferences across the country to increase exposure and access to gymnastics and acrobatics for girls and young women of color. The organization has partnered with USA Gymnastics and Coppin State University among others to spread awareness and elevate the social causes of racial equity and sport access. Learn more about BGDG at

About Grambling State University
Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university founded in 1901. The University has been accredited by 13 accrediting associations and holds accreditations in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. The 590-acre campus offers 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs. Grambling State University is a member of the University of Louisiana System. For more information, visit

About The Doug Williams Center
Founded in 2020, The Doug Williams Center exists to build an ever-growing network of solutions for diversity and inclusion in collegiate and professional sports. The Center is a learning commons and advancement space for audiences to examine the history of race and politics in American sports and build holistic perspectives on the cultural impact to provide resources for ongoing social progress. With the support of its esteemed Advisory Board and multi-disciplinary academicians, the Center offers thought leadership and practical resources to sports industry entities. A hub for academic research and development, The Doug Williams Center is an affiliate of Grambling State University.

Dr. Gourjoine M. Wade to Serve as Interim Vice President of Student Affairs at Grambling State

Will transition to new role May 1, 2021

by Bobbie Handcock | Office of Communications

Dr. Gourjoine M. Wade

GRAMBLING, La. – April 22, 2021 – Effective May 1, 2021, Dr. Gourjoine M. Wade will transition to a new role at Grambling State University as interim Vice President of Student Affairs. The Monroe, Louisiana native currently serves as Associate Vice President and Dean of Students at the institution. Having received his bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Grambling State, he continued his studies, earning a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration and a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership and Management from Walden University.

Dr. Wade is a high-impact, outcomes-driven, social media-connected student affairs practitioner.

A first-generation college graduate at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral level, he has dedicated his 16-year career to finding innovative and strategic ways to make higher education possible for those who desire it.

“Dr. Wade’s interim appointment represents a full-circle moment,” said Grambling State University President Rick Gallot. “As a first-generation graduate of GSU almost 20 years ago to his current role, he represents the level of quality and preparation we aspire for our students. He is a nationally recognized leader in digital student engagement and we are excited about his leadership as the formal search process commences.”

Dr. Wade said that Grambling has given him so much and has always been a special place for him.

“I found the love of my life on The Yard and identified my passion for student affairs by serving as a work-study student in the same spaces where I now work almost 20 years later,” he said. “It is indeed an honor to serve in this interim capacity and I appreciate President Gallot for his trust and confidence in my ability to collaboratively lead our team and genuinely support our students. For me, higher education can provide people with an established and supportive avenue to achieve their desired goals and aspirations. It is a joy to serve as one of many stewards for young people who decide to travel that road.”

Before serving at Grambling State, Dr. Wade served as the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs at Alabama State University. He is a student advocate who fosters a sincere passion to serve students, especially first-generation HBCU students and students of color. In addition to working extensively with collaborators and colleagues to enhance the student experience, Dr. Wade serves as an active member and leader within the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), where he holds the Region III African American Knowledge Community Co-Representative position, serves on the Conference Advisory Committee for the NASPA Conferences on Student Success in Higher Education, and led GSU’s efforts to successfully join the 2020 Cohort of the NASPA First Gen Forward Initiative.

Listed by digital leadership expert Dr. Josie Alhquist as one of the 40 Digital Leaders to Follow, Dr. Wade has been named a Higher Ed Digital Leader and serves as a member of the Student Affairs Digital Task Force, a national collective of social media and digital thought leaders in higher education. He was also a member of the 2017 Aspiring Vice Presidents for Student Affairs Cohort and was recognized by the HBCU Campaign Fund as a 2021 Emerging Higher Ed Professional. He remains eager and ready for partnerships with those who are committed to meeting students where they are, so collaborators can get them where they need to be.

Grambling State University Enters Agreement with TurnkeyZRG to Assist in VP of Athletics Job Search

GRAMBLING, La. – April 21, 2021 – Grambling State University (GSU) announced today that it has engaged the services of TurnkeyZRG to collaborate for the Vice President of Athletics job search.

Managing Director Chad Chatlos will oversee the TurnkeyZRG search firm’s role in assisting GSU in a variety of areas, but most notably by identifying high-quality candidates, handling the logistics associated with the application and evaluation process, and performing background checks on potential candidates. Chatlos specializes in senior executive searches across the sports industry with a focus on roles in the ever-changing landscape of intercollegiate athletics.

Turnkey has successfully completed over 200 searches in the intercollegiate athletics industry, including athletics directors, deputy athletics directors, and Senior Women’s Administrators, and head coaches.

Effective May 1, 2021, Dr. David Ponton will transition to supporting the university’s enhanced focus on student success and retention as Special Assistant to the President for Student Success.

“Dr. Ponton has demonstrated a proven dedication to all parts of our student experience for more than 30 years,” said President Gallot. “We are grateful for his service and willingness to continue innovating for our students.”

Collaborating with TurnkeyZRG, GSU intends to conclude its search with a contracted hire in place by July 1, 2021. In the interim period, senior athletics leaders will report directly to the president.

Grambling State is an NCAA Division I institution and has been a member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) for over 60 years. The school sponsors 15 varsity sports, including football, baseball, softball, and men’s and women’s basketball. The rich history and tradition span decades from former legendary head football coach Eddie Robinson to NBA great Willis Reed. Grambling State has produced over 200 players in the NFL, including the only Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Super Bowl MVP, Doug Williams. The University has also garnered over 140 players selected in the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball drafts.

About TurnkeyZRG

Founded in 1996, TurnkeyZRG is a highly specialized talent recruitment/executive search firm filling C-level, senior-level and mid-management level positions throughout sports, entertainment and media. Over the past 25 years, TurnkeyZRG has filled more than 1,400 positions throughout sports, entertainment and media. TurnkeyZRG helps teams, leagues, stadiums, arenas, theaters, college athletic departments, events, sponsors, agencies, media companies, private equity companies and other clients identify, recruit and hire the very best management talent. Turnkey now benefits from ZRG’s global footprint, full array of industry practice groups, data-driven, analytical search tools, and technology investment in changing the way executive search/talent recruiting is done. TurnkeyZRG becomes a tech-enabled disrupter of the prior executive search model. For more information about TurnkeyZRG, visit

Grambling State University student awarded internship with Greenwood Project

by Bobbie Handcock | Office of Communications

GRAMBLING, La. – April 21, 2021 – Grambling State University (GSU) student Jordan Braithwaite, of St. Louis, Missouri, was recently awarded an internship with Greenwood Project. The nonprofit organization strives to build a diversity pipeline for minority students to enter the financial services industry by providing students with internship opportunities with top financial firms in Chicago. The internship is from June to mid-August.

Braithwaite, a freshman history major with a concentration in law and society, is looking forward to the opportunity.

“By working with the Greenwood Project this summer, I hope to be provided with opportunities such as networking, growth and professional development, staying on track for my career and aspirations, and becoming more well-rounded in my history major,” she said.

Braithwaite said she is grateful to be awarded the internship.

“I am extremely blessed and thankful to be presented with this opportunity, to have made the connections I have made thus far, and for maintaining a 4.0 GPA at Grambling State University.,” she said. “I cannot wait to see what my sophomore year has in store for me and I am elated and honored to be a Grambling State Tiger!”

Braithwaite was chosen Freshman Class President, is Miss NAACP-elect for 2021-22 and will serve as a resident assistant for the fall semester.

GSU alumna Ayeisha Gipson, who serves as Braithwaite’s mentor, said she is “a hard worker, very dedicated, very innovative, and a critical thinker.”

“She is a phenomenal young woman and this is just the beginning for her,” Gipson said.

About Grambling State University
Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university founded in 1901. The University has been accredited by 13 accrediting associations and holds accreditations in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. The 590-acre campus offers 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs. Grambling State University is a member of the University of Louisiana System. For more information, visit

Post-Bachelor Advanced Supervision Certificate Program Approved by Board of Regents

Enrollment for classes available Fall 2021

GRAMBLING, La. – April 20, 2021 – The Louisiana Board of Regents recently approved an 18-hour post-baccalaureate certificate program in Advanced Supervision in the School of Social Work at Grambling State University. The program provides a theoretical understanding of supervision and leadership and provides the knowledge and skills required to develop a supportive organizational structure and an environment that values diversity and inclusion to enrich service provision. Enrollment in the program will be available Fall 2021.

The initiative is the product of a workforce development partnership with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the Louisiana Child Welfare Academy. DCFS expressed an interest in a supervisory program to further develop the skills and knowledge of its supervisors as a means of increasing retention of first line staff. Grambling State’s School of Social Work agreed to pursue the development of the advanced supervisory program to help DCFS address this need. Although developed specifically for DCFS, the program adds value and is beneficial for any individual employed in human services organizations interested in becoming a premier supervisor.

“Social Work faculty maintain a great working relationship with state and federal agencies that provide social services,” said Dr. Connie Walton, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This relationship allows Grambling State University to assist in meeting short term and long term goals of agencies. The certificate program will allow agencies to expand the training provided to supervisors and the ability to better serve the public.”

The Advanced Supervision certificate program will be housed in the College of Professional Studies, School of Social Work. It will be overseen by the School of Social Work Title IV-E Child Welfare program coordinator Evelyn Jenkins. In July 2020, the program received a three year grant totaling $1,005,624 which included funding for faculty and administrative support to implement the certificate program. The Title IV-E funding provides financial support to current public child welfare staff wanting to return to school to acquire their MSW degree and students in the BSW and MSW programs who are seeking a career in the field of child welfare. The intent of the Title IV-E Child Welfare program is to support public child welfare education and training to build and retain a competent, professional, and stable workforce to enhance the delivery of services that strengthens families and improve child well-being.

Jenkins had a career in child welfare and stated that as a former regional and state level administrator in DCFS, she is keenly aware of the work of the department as well as the knowledge and skills needed by supervisors to support front line workers and promote success in helping children and families.

“I am honored to have a role in supporting child welfare workers and those in related professions further their knowledge in supervision while also contributing to the advancement of the School of Social Work,” said Jenkins.

Dr. Jacqueline Garrison, associate dean of the School of Social Work stated that the program will aid the State of Louisiana in ensuring that the Child Welfare workforce is professionally educated, skilled, and committed to the profession.

“The work done by child welfare professionals is complex and comes with many demands,” said Dr. Garrison. “Therefore, it is important that child welfare professionals are well prepared to help ensure that all the needs of children and families are met. DCFS’s intentions of maintaining a qualified, well-trained workforce has important implications for safety and permanency goals. The School of Social Work is excited to be a part of this endeavor.”

For more information about the program, contact Dr. Jacqueline Garrison at .

Billie Holiday comes to life in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill”

Musical Celebrates Jazz Appreciation Month in Grambling & Shreveport, LA

Shreveport-Bossier City/Ruston/Grambling, LA — April 19, 2021 – Audiences will step back in time during an intimate stage production that shines the spotlight on legendary jazz songstress Billie Holiday on April 22-25, 2021.

The Grambling State University Voice and Theatre programs will present “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 22. The production will be held at Grambling State University in Floyd L. Sandle Theatre of the Conrad Hutchinson Performing Arts Center. Additional performances are set for 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday, April 23-24. A matinee will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, April 24 at the Central ARTSTATION – Shreveport Regional Arts Council, located at 801 Crockett Street in Shreveport, LA. A performance will also be streamed Iive at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 25.

Accomplished vocalist and actress, Natorshau Davis stars in the title role with the creative team of award-winning director, Angelique Feaster Evans, music director William Taylor, and set designer David Kaul bringing Lanie Robertson’s powerful production to life.

Set in 1959 in a seedy Philadelphia bar, Robertson’s play treats the audience to one last performance by the legendary singer. Holiday takes viewers on a journey through the ups and downs of her tumultuous life, combined with stunning renditions of her beloved repertoire. Over a dozen musical numbers are interwoven with salty, often humorous, memories to paint a mesmerizing picture of the icon, her life, and music. Among the songs heard in the show are “God Bless the Child,” “T’ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do”, and “Strange Fruit.”

The live performances at Grambling State University and the Shreveport Regional Arts Council are free with limited seating. Registration is required at Safety protocols will be in place including temperature checks, social distancing, and required masks.

To register for the FREE live performances, visit

The cost of the live stream performance is $2.95 per person. To purchase, visit

“Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC. For more information, please call 318-274-2106. Because the production contains strong language and content, it is recommended for ages 16 and up.

Annual report, State of Grambling 2020: Building What’s Next released

From full reaccreditation to exciting new degree programs to a 100% improvement in its financial health score, Grambling State University is building the future it wants to see

GRAMBLING, LA – April 19, 2021 – Today, Grambling State University released its annual report, The State of Grambling 2020: Building What’s Next. The report reflects significant growth and notable achievements, despite the global pandemic, social unrest, and a struggling economy.

“In spite of all that happened in 2020, Grambling State University has continued to thrive in the classroom, with corporate partners, and in the community,” said President Rick Gallot. “As a result, our efforts yielded many defining moments and achievements that galvanize the vision we have for the future of the institution.”

Some of the defining moments in 2020 included full reaccreditation from the Southern
Association of Colleges and School’s Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) for the next 10 years, successful financial audits of the University and Foundation with no findings, and a 100% increase in the University’s composite financial health score. Enrollment is also up 4%, fueled by a 42% increase in the freshman class while new degree programs in cybersecurity and cloud computing offer students strong career opportunities. The State of Grambling 2020 shares many more moments and recognizes the many partners and supporters who helped make this year memorable.

“Grambling State stakeholders – students, faculty and staff, alumni, and partners – keep us motivated,” said Marc Newman, Vice President for Advancement, Research and Economic Development. “We’ve had many blessings this year, but we also have a big vision for Building What’s Next. Your investment helps support a lasting legacy of excellence. We thank everyone for their continued engagement.”

“As you review The State of Grambling 2020, it is my hope that you see the talent of our amazing students and the caliber of work done by driven faculty, staff, and administrators with the help of partners that believe in the mission of Grambling State University,” adds Gallot. “Although a lot has been accomplished, more must be done. It is our belief that anything is possible at the place where everybody is somebody.”

To view the report, visit

About Grambling State University
Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university founded in 1901. The University has been accredited by 13 accrediting associations and holds accreditations in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. The 590-acre campus offers 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs. Grambling State University is a member of the University of Louisiana System. For more information, visit

Despite Bayou Classic loss, GSU officials, fans grateful to carry on the tradition

 by Bobbie Handcock

SHREVEPORT, La. – April 17, 2021 – In the long-awaited, much-anticipated 47th Annual Bayou Classic on Saturday, Grambling State University fell to Southern University by a score of 49-7. The game, held this year in Shreveport’s Independence Stadium, was a long time coming for GSU officials and fans. And although disappointed by the loss they were grateful that the GSU Tigers got to play despite setbacks related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before kickoff, GSU Athletics Director David Ponton said it’s a great day whenever the two teams get together to battle it out. It’s all about comradery and competition, he said, predicting that the Tigers would “go out there and play their hearts out.”

Although they did, the offense struggled while the defense had its highs and lows, said GSU fan Lewis Matthews, who coaches at a nearby high school. Boasting a red Grambling sweatshirt and red shoes, he cheered on his son, GSU linebacker Lewis Matthews II, and the rest of the team.

“We have room for a lot of improvement,” he said. “Grambling has a very young team. This fall should be great for us. This incoming class should give us a huge boost.”

GSU and Southern squared off in the long-anticipated game in April in Shreveport instead of the usual Thanksgiving weekend in New Orleans due to the pandemic. Before Saturday’s game, the series was tied between the Tigers and the Jaguars – each tallying 23 wins. In the end, Southern University came out on top with 24 victories.

The matchup, which is nationally televised, took place in front of a socially distanced crowd that largely wore masks except when eating or drinking. Many fans bundled up in blankets, hats, and jackets to brave temperatures that dipped into the high 50s.

Deatra and David Smith, of Shreveport, were glad that the game was close to home, saving them the drive to New Orleans. They are GSU Class of 1988 and 2003 graduates, respectively.

“We’re glad to be able to get out and fellowship with other fans and just have the game experience,” Deatra Smith said.

“For me, this is a chance to get out with university alumni and fans,” said 2004 GSU graduate Andrew Wilson. “It feels like home.”

Wilson, of Shreveport, wore a stylish, denim jacket adorned with tiger emblems, Gs, HBCU and more. “I’ve had this jacket for two years but because of the pandemic, I didn’t get to wear it.”

Some fans found themselves with ties to both universities.

Jerry Carter, who graduated from Southern in 2020, supported his GSU Tiger son, Javon Carter, during Saturday’s game.

“It’s always an awesome experience when two of the greatest HBCUs come together for a great football game,” he said, adding that “Grambling is his story. Southern is my story.”

Janice Hurks, of Oakdale, wore a Grambling State University T-shirt and a Southern University necklace. She attended GSU but didn’t graduate and went on to earn an associate’s degree from Southern.

“I’m glad the game was held,” she said. “It’s wonderful when we can gather like this.”

New Orleans native Casmè, of Season 19 of NBC’s The Voice (Team Legend), performed the national anthem during the Bayou Classic. There was no dynamic eye-catching, ear-filling Battle of the Bands this year between the two historically black Louisiana colleges. SWAC regulations limit all travel for SWAC member institutions’ bands for health and safety reasons during the Spring 2021 football season. The halftime show featured highlights from past Bayou Classic games and top halftime show moments from 2015 to 2019, presented by Proctor and Gamble.

Walter George, a 1973 graduate of GSU and a former member of the World Famed Tiger Marching Band, said he was happy that the game didn’t get cancelled. And although he understands the safety precautions, he really missed the bands.

“I hate it,” he said. “It was part of the whole experience – us going against them and them going against us.”

Ruston resident Terry Jordan (GSU Class of1982 and 1989) attended the game with his aunt, Nannie Jordan-Lewis (Class of 1965). Although the Tigers may have lost the traditional battle to the Jaguars this time, he predicted “we’ll get them next time.”

Memorial Scholarship in honor of alumna to be presented to Grambling State

Shirley A. Clay

Grambling, LA — April 16, 2021 – An endowed scholarship honoring the memory of Shirley A. Clay, a Grambling State University alumna and former employee, will be presented to the university during a special ceremony. Slated for Wednesday, April 21 at noon, the event will be held in the quadrangle in front of the Long-Jones Administration building on GSU’s campus.

The Shirley A. Clay Endowed Memorial Scholarship will be established in the GSU College of Business and will be presented by her son and daughter, Ahamad Clay and Maisha Clay. On April 5, 2021, Clay succumbed after a long and valiant bout with cancer.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our Mother. To have had Shirley A. Clay as a Mother is to know unconditional love! Her unwavering love, support, and memory will forever remain in our hearts and spirits. We praise and thank God for her generous spirit, and for the contributions she made to her family, alma mater, and friends whom she held dear… My mother loved GSU and it would mean so much to her to support deserving students at her alma mater studying in the College of Business,” said Ahamad. “Our family requests that those who wish to express condolences consider contributing to the Shirley A. Clay Endowed Memorial Scholarship.”

Checks and/or money orders should be made payable to the Grambling University Foundation, earmarked Shirley A. Clay Endowed Memorial Scholarship (memo line), and mailed to P. O. Box 587, Grambling, LA 71245. If you wish to support the scholarship with an online contribution, please visit and select the Shirley A. Clay Endowed Memorial Scholarship in the dropdown menu.

A native of Marksville, Louisiana, and a first-generation college student, Clay earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1975 from GSU. She moved to Oakland, California, where she began a career in business administration. In 1999, after retiring, she moved back to Louisiana and began working at the Avoyelles Parish School Board.

During her 13-year tenure at GSU, she was employed in the Division of Institutional Advancement as the Coordinator of Endowments, Stewardship, Donor Relations, and Planned Giving and as an Administrative Assistant in the Office of the President. She also worked at the Eddie G. Robinson Museum as an Administrative Coordinator. Prior to her illness, she was employed for five years at Centenary College in Shreveport.

A committal service will be held Thursday, April 22 at 11:00 a.m. at the St. John Community Baptist Cemetery, located at 6982 LA Highway 1 in Marksville. Rev. Charles E. Guillory, pastor of the St. John Community Church, will officiate.

Interested parties can send condolences by card and mail them to The Clay Family, PO Box 52973, Shreveport, LA 71135.

Grambling State wins $20,000 from Home Depot® Retool Your School

Funds will be used to enhance lighting, communal spaces on campus​

GRAMBLING, La. – April 15, 2021 – Grambling State University (GSU) has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the Home Depot® Retool Your School Program. As one of 10 winners in the first cluster, funds will be used to enhance lighting and communal spaces on campus.

HBCU students, alumni, and advocates were encouraged to cast votes for the HBCU of their choice until March 15. HBCUs were separated into three clusters based on student population. The top ten schools with the most votes per cluster will receive grants ranging from $20,000 to $75,000. Additionally, the Campaign of the Year award of $45,000 was presented to the school whose campaign proved to be particularly effective for galvanizing its community to drive votes for the program.

“Thanks to our students, alumni, supporters, and the investment from Home Depot’s Retool Your School Program, we will be able to adapt campus spaces to be more reflective of the realities associated with COVID-19,” said Dr. Gourjoine Wade, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students at GSU. “This year’s $20,000 grant award combined with last year’s $50,000 award will allow us to enhance existing social, academic, and green spaces to incorporate recommended social distancing in regards to public spaces in Carver Hall, The Tiger Den, and prominent outdoor areas around the campus. This is a significant investment and support towards the student experience here at Grambling.”

By installing energy-efficient lighting that will illuminate interior common areas and exterior green spaces, students, faculty, staff, and community members can study, research, engage, and interact within appropriate safe distances. The project will also include Installing modern, sustainable furnishings that can be easily distanced apart and give students adequate, safe, and comfortable areas to support their social and emotional well-being.

“Since 2009, The Home Depot has continued to increase its investment in campus improvements for HBCUs,” said The Home Depot’s Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer Derek Bottoms in a release. “We are ensuring HBCU students have an upgraded environment that enhances their educational experience as they progress on their journey to become the next generation of leaders.”

Current plans call for the Retool Project at Grambling State University to begin this summer with a goal of completion before students return in August.

About The Home Depot
The Home Depot is the world’s largest home improvement specialty retailer. The Company operates a total of 2,298 retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, 10 Canadian provinces and Mexico. In fiscal 2020, The Home Depot had sales of $132.1 billion and earnings of $12.9 billion. The company employs approximately 500,000 associates. The Home Depot’s stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: HD) and is included in the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

About Grambling State University
Grambling State University, located in Grambling, Louisiana, is a historically black university founded in 1901 that combines the academic strengths of a major university with the benefits of a small college. This combination enables students to grow and learn in a serene and positive environment. The 590-acre campus offers 43 undergraduate and graduate academic programs. A member of the University of Louisiana System, Grambling State University has been accredited by 13 accrediting associations and holds accreditations in all programs required by the Louisiana Board of Regents. With a longstanding tradition of excellence, Grambling State University continues to emphasize the value and importance of each student, exemplified by our motto: Where Everybody Is Somebody.