Centenary faculty and students create statewide French honor society

Members of La Légion d’honneur Louisianaise gather at the inaugural meeting and initiation in spring 2017.

SHREVEPORT, LA — Faculty and students at Centenary College of Louisiana are hoping to use a new honorary organization, La Légion d’honneur Louisianaise, to promote French and Francophone languages and cultures throughout Louisiana and to bring together people with different levels of French language proficiency. The honor society will eventually include elementary, middle, high school, and college students as well as community members.

La Légion was founded at Centenary in the spring of 2017 with 17 initial members, including three French exchange students. To be eligible for the organization, Centenary students must have an overall GPA of 3.0 and a 3.0 GPA in French language courses. They must have either taken one full year of French courses, be a French-speaking exchange student, or have proficiency in French language at or above the 200 level and be interested in taking French courses in the future. La Légion members at Centenary are currently in the process of building a chapter at a middle school in South Louisiana.

The group is also actively planning activities for the spring 2018 semester at Centenary. La Légion will work with the Department of Foreign Languages to host a French Night on campus and will also continue to develop programs for expanding chapters and initiations to other schools. Future plans include coordinating with the local community to plan French food, music, and film nights and Louisiana literature nights at local libraries.

Centenary student Kiley Simpson was involved with the founding of La Légion d’honneur Louisianaise and currently serves as secretary for the group.

“I’ve always had a love for French, so being part of the process of creation has been special for me for many reasons,” says Simpson. “It’s a great opportunity to foster a deeper love for the cultures and history of Louisiana as well as a way for people of Francophone and non-Francophone backgrounds to connect with each other. Giving young people of any academic background the chance to participate in something like this is my absolute favorite part. By making the languages and cultures associated with Louisiana more accessible, we can inspire and encourage more young students to find passion in learning through both education and community experiences.”

Dr. Andia Augustin-Billy, assistant professor of French and Francophone Studies at Centenary, sees the new La Légion group as an important extension of Centenary’s academic mission.

“Here at Centenary, notably in the Department of Foreign Languages, we have endeavored to instill in our students a sense of engagement with the community and the world in which they live,” says Augustin-Billy. “The fact that students spearheaded an honor society whose vision relies on inclusivity and diversity is a testament to the values we uphold at the College. We are extremely proud of them and will continue to mentor, collaborate, and support such groundbreaking initiatives.”