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Son and parents now have doctorates in same LSU program

News Release Distributed 12/19/14

BATON ROUGE, La. – John Gaspard doesn’t think he is following in his parents’ footsteps. Although the path he is taking is similar to theirs. On Friday, Dec. 19, Gaspard, a science teacher at Rougon Elementary School in Point Coupee Parish, received a doctorate from LSU in human resource education and workforce development. Both of his parents hold doctorates in the same program, though it was called vocational education when his father, Camile, earned his in 1992.

“I don’t think of it that way, though the first school I taught at my dad taught at. We both taught science, but we are very different,” he said.

This is the fifth degree Gaspard has received, four of which come from LSU. He has two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees and now a Ph.D.

“I know it sounds crazy to do that, but you just keep stumbling around until you find something,” he said.

The human resource education and workforce development program now falls under the LSU College of Human Sciences and Education. But the three Gaspards are all alumni from the LSU College of Agriculture, and their roots are deep in agriculture.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the College of Ag,” said Mae Gaspard, John’s mother.

Her dad, Albert Blanchard, graduated from the LSU College of Agriculture in 1943 and went to work as an assistant county agent in Union Parish. There, he met Mae’s mother while checking a calf at her home.

Mae and Camile met in high school at a Farm Bureau conference.

Camile came to LSU in 1968 and received a Bachelor of Science in agricultural education in 1972. He followed up eight years later with a master’s in vocational education, then 12 years later with a Ph.D.

He said it was the GI Bill veteran benefits that encouraged him to pursue graduate school.

“I had benefits left over from the Vietnam era so I kept going,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without the GI Bill.”

It was Camile who encouraged Mae to continue with her education. Her bachelor’s degree was in nursing from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. But as her son was entering LSU to study vocational education in the College of Agriculture, she started working toward her master’s in the same program.

“I just love research,” she said. “My husband and son lean more toward the teaching side of academics, but I enjoy the research.”

She continues to collect data from research she conducted for her master’s thesis on self-esteem and how it relates to academic achievement of students. She followed up with the students 10 and 20 years after the initial study.

The other similarity in their educational paths is Michael Burnett. Burnett is the executive associate dean of the College of Agriculture and advised each of them for their doctorates and advised Mae for her master’s thesis.

When Camile was called to active duty while working toward his Ph.D. during the first Gulf War, he didn’t think he would finish.

“If it wouldn’t have been for Dr. Burnett and the flexibility he allowed, I would not have continued. He convinced me I could do it,” he said.

Mae and John also credit Burnett with fueling their educational pursuits.

Approximately 1,600 students received degrees from LSU on Dec. 19, but John didn’t don a cap and gown or walk across the stage. Instead, he spent graduation day in the classroom with his students doing what he loves.

Tobie Blanchard

Last Updated: 12/19/2014 11:18:40 AM

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