Category Archives: alumni

GSU Alum Marco French earns Milken Educator Award for Creating Culture of Excellence for Educators and Students

Queensborough Leadership Academy Principal Marco French kicks off the all-school gathering

Queensborough Leadership Academy chancellor invests in teacher talent, reaps benefits of student learning

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Santa Monica, Calif., — By putting the needs of staff and students front and center, Chancellor Marco French has transformed academic performance at Queensborough Leadership Academy and created a nurturing environment for all to thrive. Yet today, French was the focus of an all-school assembly where he was surprised with a national Milken Educator Award. The recognition comes with a $25,000 cash prize that French can use however he chooses.

Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken was joined by Louisiana Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley to present French with the prestigious honor before cheering students, appreciative colleagues, state and local dignitaries, and media. In addition to today’s fanfare, French will join a national network of more than 2,800 Milken Educator Award recipients dedicated to strengthening K-12 education.

French is among more than 60 educators across the country who will receive the Award during the 2021-22 season. The last recipient in Caddo Parish was awarded in 2015.

“Chancellor Marco French has achieved significant success by aligning every effort to developing, motivating and retaining effective educators,” said Lowell Milken. “Marco unifies his staff under a common vision for excellence and, in so doing, creates a collaborative, vibrant culture for all to excel.”

Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken is thrilled to welcome Principal Marco French to the Milken Educator family. “Chancellor Marco French has achieved significant success by aligning every effort to developing, motivating and retaining effective educators,” he says. “Marco unifies his staff under a common vision for excellence and, in so doing, creates a collaborative, vibrant culture for all to excel.”

French leads the academy’s implementation of the TAP System for Teacher and Student Advancement – a signature initiative of the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET). Master and mentor teachers work with French and other administrators to set goals, guide regular job-embedded professional learning, coach educators in classrooms and leverage the faculty’s talents to drive student growth.

“As a former teacher, content coach, and instructional coordinator, Marco French understands learning and leadership from many angles,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “These experiences have clearly informed his work as principal; he is committed to the success of the Queensborough Leadership Academy community, where he continues to motivate students and staff and inspire the next generation of leaders.”

Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching,” Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues and communities. The Awards are not designated for lifetime achievement. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award.

French is the third Milken Educator Award recipient this season. Jay Weisman, a math and social studies at Benjamin Franklin High School in New Orleans, was presented with the Award this morning. Laura Laiche, a third grade teacher at Slaughter Elementary School in East Feliciana Parish, earned the Award yesterday.

More About Marco French

Building Relationships: Every morning, whether in sun, rain, sleet or snow, Chancellor French – known at school as “The Bowtie Principal” – greets students as they enter the campus. During the holidays, he dons a Santa Claus costume and hands out small gifts as pupils arrive. The rest of the day French is rarely in his office; instead, he’s in the trenches with teachers in their classrooms, observing lessons, modeling instructional strategies and working with small groups of students. Every decision French makes keeps students’ needs front and center. When he realized that many students lacked warm outerwear as they waited for the bus or walked to school, French partnered with Operation Warm and got a coat for every student.

Raising Student Achievement: French has been instrumental in transforming multiple underperforming campuses into state and nationally recognized schools. Fully invested in increasing student achievement and developing educator expertise, French has a “whatever it takes” attitude that has earned him respect in the building and throughout Caddo Parish. Queensborough earned an A in 2019 for student progress and was named an Outstanding School in Northwest Louisiana for top growth in ELA and math. In 2018-19, Queensborough students outperformed the district and state for overall growth, as well as for performance of students of color, those who are economically disadvantaged, and students with disabilities.

Instructional Leadership: French has embraced the TAP System’s principles of continuous learning and leadership development through intensive, curriculum-dependent coaching. A former teacher, content coach and instructional coordinator, French leads weekly instructional team leadership meetings with Queensborough’s administrators, counselors, and master and mentor teachers to build the leadership needed to support teachers through weekly, job-embedded cluster meetings and one-on-one coaching. He works with teachers and the leadership team to analyze student achievement and qualitative teacher data throughout the year to make instructional adjustments. When COVID-19 closed the building in spring 2020, French quickly transitioned his instructional leadership team meetings to a virtual platform so the group could quickly help teachers adapt their curriculum materials and lessons to online learning. He is working to ensure that 100% of Queensborough’s teachers have Apple certification so students have access to the same opportunities with technology as their peers.

District Impact: A leader in the district, French presents frequently for Caddo Parish teachers and principals on topics like classroom management systems, data-driven decision-making, individualized support for struggling students, and hands-on math strategies. When Louisiana rolled out tools for professional learning planning and curriculum implementation, French invited state and district leaders to visit so they could see how the tools worked in practice. In fall 2019, he hosted leaders from Tennessee who were interested in implementing high-quality curriculum in an impactful way.

Strengthening Community: French prioritizes building a strong school community. He organizes bowling parties and scavenger hunts, as well as workshops for parents to learn how to support their scholars at home. Outside of school, he runs tutoring programs and is actively involved in outreach ministries through his church and local social organizations.

Education: French earned a bachelor’s in elementary education from Grambling State University in 2009 and a master’s in educational leadership from Arkansas State University in 2015.

More About the Milken Educator Awards: “The future belongs to the educated.”

Along with the financial prize, Milken Educator Award recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,800 top teachers, principals and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others dedicated to excellence in education.

  • The honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education. In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFFs) mentoring program, in which freshman Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy and practice.
  • Over the years, more than $140 million in funding, including $70 million for the individual cash awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers.
  • Veteran Milken Educators frequently go on to serve in leadership roles at state, national and international levels.
  • “We find you. You don’t find us!” Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation.
  • The $25,000 cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children’s or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.

Oprah, a longtime education advocate, shared her congratulations to this year’s recipients in a video message thanking “the most incredible educators around the country” and acknowledging her deep appreciation for the “tireless work” they do.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MilkenEducatorAwards), Twitter (@Milken), YouTube (/MilkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward).

For more information, visit or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772.

About the Milken Educator Awards
The first Milken Educator Awards were presented by the Milken Family Foundation in 1987. The awards provide public recognition and individual financial rewards of $25,000 to elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and specialists from around the country who are furthering excellence in education. Recipients are heralded in early to mid-career for what they have achieved and for the promise of what they will accomplish. The initiative was created by the Milken Family Foundation, which celebrates 40 years of elevating education in America and around the world. Learn more at

President Gallot Appoints Friends of Technology Advisory Board at Grambling State University

University Leadership Drives Louisiana’s Digital Programming in Higher Education with Forthcoming Cloud Computing Degree 

GRAMBLING, La – February 28, 2020 – President Rick Gallot announced the formation of Grambling State University’s inaugural Friends of Technology Advisory Board to pioneer advancement in technology. The Board, comprised of thirteen top executives from technology industry giants including NASA, Salesforce, and Microsoft, serves as a key point of direction for ongoing systematic development and advancement of University initiatives in tech. 

“As we round the final corner of approvals for the University’s Cloud Computing degree program, I’m leaning on insights from this hand-selected group to learn what’s next in the industry,” said President Gallot. “Grambling State is changing the face of higher education in Louisiana as we cater to our students’ future need for education in technology and digital learning.”    

New Technology Advisory Board Leads Innovation at GSU 

The University’s Friends of Technology Advisory Board members include:

Several Grambling State alumni have joined the ranks of the University’s new Friends of Technology Advisory Board membership. Board members include:

  • Marysharon Owens, Head of Global Creative Studio at Illumina; 
  • Willie B. Williams, Research Portfolio Manager at NASA – ’71;
  • Dean Jones, Program Ambassador at Microsoft for Startups – ’86;
  • Dr. Jamika D. Burge, Design Leader at Capitol One & Tech Founder at BlackComputeHer; 
  • Michael Palmer, Chief Information Security Officer at Hearst; 
  • Terry Owens, Chief Information Officer of the Congressional Budget Office in the United States Congress ’89;
  • David Chatterton, Vice President of Enterprise Sales at Salesforce; 
  • Joe Brenner, Chief Information Officer at Sally Beauty; 
  • Jamie Hamilton, Sr. Vice President of Technology at Revegy ’94;
  • Upen Sachdev, Principal at Deloitte & Touche LLP
  • Eric Moses, Capital and Planning Manager at Shell Exploration & Production Company – ‘01;
  • Alana Ward Robinson, President and CEO of Robinson Group Consulting, Inc. – ’72; 
  • and Dr. Adrian Butler, Chief Information Officer of Dine Brands Global – ’92.

The Board recently convened for the kick-off meeting and will assist in the planning and execution of University initiatives in cutting-edge science and technology with attention to the goal of ensuring that students gain the utmost preparation to enter tomorrow’s workforce. Grambling State aspires to position itself to align students as innovators who will create the next generation of digital experience. 

Pioneering Science and Tech in Louisiana Higher Education 

The University’s proposal to offer Louisiana’s first bachelor’s degree in Cloud Computing was recently approved by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors. Next, the program will be reviewed by the Board of Regents for final approval. In addition to remaining the top-producer of African American Computer Science graduates in Louisiana, the University currently offers the only 4-year cybersecurity degree program in the state and is developing the state’s first Digital Library.  

“Cybersecurity and cloud computing are just the beginning,” said Dr. Connie Walton, University Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. “This is a critical time in higher education when students need to be prepared for a workforce that looks very different than any previous generation. It’s imperative that we have industry experts to help build our curriculum toward tomorrow’s technology trends.” 

Champions for Student Success and Employed Graduates

In addition to advising University Leadership on curriculum and campus advancement, the Board also exists to provide direct student support. Grambling State students with tech majors attended the Friends of Technology’s first meeting, where they received career insights and mentorship. 

“The board is an outstanding resource for students like me to gain career placement, internships, and scholarships,” said Alexis White, Senior Cybersecurity major. “I’m extremely grateful to have access to such an exceptional and willing group of executives to coach me as I enter the technology industry.” 

Grambling State University expects that the Friends of Technology Advisory Board will ensure the continued trajectory of cutting-edge technological advancement and cloud-based thought leadership in the coming years. 

To learn about Grambling State’s science and computer technology programs, visit  

New Era of Excellence Alumni to Host Fundraising Reception for Grambling State University

Donation Portal Open Now Through February 8 for Spring 2020 Giving Campaign

Grambling State University invites campus and community to join the President’s Club Giving Society by supporting the Fourth Annual Alumni & Friends Fundraising Reception, “A New Era of Excellence.” Over 100 Grambling State community members supported last year’s New Era of Excellence Reception, raising more than $65,000 to bring their three-year total to $329,000. 

“Grambling State alumni have a unique dedication to meet the ongoing needs of our student body,” said President Gallot. “I am grateful for the outpouring of support for student advancement through much needed scholarships.”

Since President Gallot’s appointment in 2016, alumni and long-term supporter James Bradford has organized a dedicated group of supporters and givers to help grow Grambling State with the annual discretionary fundraising effort.

“If we don’t give to Grambling State, who will?” said James Bradford, lead organizer of the annual Alumni & Friends fundraising effort.

While donations of any amount are appreciated, donors can become a member of Grambling State’s President’s Club Giving Society by donating $1,000 or more prior to the event. Donated funds are earmarked for the President’s Scholarship Fund. Give on or before February 7th to be recognized at this year’s event.


New Era of Excellence
Alumni & Friends Fundraising Reception
February 15, 2020
6:00 p.m.
Performing Arts Center – Band Hall

Alumni and supporters are encouraged to give through February 8 online at (select New Era of Excellence: Alumni & Friends in the drop menu) or with a check payable to the Grambling University Foundation (PO Box 507, Grambling, LA 71245) with Attention to Brenda Williams. Reception seating is available for $1000 per two seats.

For more information, contact Grambling State’s Office of Advancement at

Bayou Classic: Miss Grambling State and Miss Southern A&M Share Childhood Friendship

IMG_5773HBCU Queens Go Head-to-Head Supporting Opposite Sides of 46-Year Rivalry 

GRAMBLING, La  – November 26, 2019 – They will be on opposite sides of the Bayou Classic field for the annual competition, but Miss Southern A&M University, Alacia Brew, and Miss Grambling State University, Rickenzie Johnikin are friends whose bond extends beyond rivalry.  

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Three-Time SWAC Champion, Coach Wilbert Ellis, to Keynote Eddie G. Robinson Lecture Series

ellis_coach100th Birthday Celebration Continues with Convocation Today at 11 a.m. 

GRAMBLING, La.  – November 11, 2019 – Grambling’s own legendary baseball coach, Wilbert Ellis, will keynote the Fourth Annual Edward G. Robinson Leadership Lecture Series on November 12 in the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center at 11 a.m. Coach Ellis is a Grambling State Baseball Hall of Famer and Southwestern Athletic Conference Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. 

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Tech Tour Scholarship Winner Advances to Finals in $3,000 Business Model Competition

Grambling State Students to Compete for Start-Up Business Opportunity at Golden Pitch Finale 

_DSC9621GRAMBLING, LA — November 5, 2019 – Destney Johnson, freshmen recipient of the Grambling State Tech Tour Scholarship, is among those advancing to the finals in the campus-wide business model competition, The Golden Pitch. Campus and community are invited to RSVP to attend the Shark Tank-style final pitch for $3,000 on Tuesday, November 19 from 11 am to 1 pm in the Grambling Hall Auditorium.  

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SodexoMAGIC Makes History with $2 Million Donation to Grambling State

Magic Johnson’s International Conglomerate Invests in STEM, Technology Pilots, and Scholarships 

 _DSC4914GRAMBLING, LA — November 5, 2019 – Today, Grambling State announced that Magic Johnson’s SodexoMAGIC donated one of the largest unrestricted gifts in the University’s 118-year history. The $2 million contribution comes only four months into the multi-year partnership between the University and international food service and facilities management giant. 

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adidas™ to Open Custom MakerLab on Grambling State’s Campus November 1

Screen Shot 2019-10-31 at 4.21.01 PMAthletic Apparel Giant Celebrates Nearly Two-Year Partnership with University During Homecoming 

Grambling State welcomes global sports partner and multi-billion dollar corporation, adidas, to give 300 Homecoming attendees the opportunity to create their own screen-printed adidas apparel at the adidas MakerLab Friday, November 1 on the campus Yard from 1-6 p.m. 

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Grambling State Receives Designation for a Center of Academic Excellence in Mathematical Achievement for Science and Technology

GRAMBLING, La – October 31, 2019 – Grambling State University receives recognition by the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors and the Louisiana Board of Regents for a Center of Academic Excellence in Mathematical Achievement for Science and Technology (CeMAST).
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