A paycheck can change your life, but a paycheck stub? Robert Boudreaux’s paycheck stub changed his life.
“I learned about the Compete LA program through my employer. I work full time as a master welder for the Louisiana Department of Transportaion and Development,” said Boudreaux, of Sulphur. “On one of my pay stubs there was a message about the Compete LA program. I was interested in the information about the program, so I inquired about it and the rest is history.”
Compete LA is a program designed to help Louisianians return to college and earn a degree. This program is for people who have some college credit, but not enough for a degree and have been out of college for two years or more. The program includes a variety of online degree programs and other convenient class structures designed for Louisianans who might work full time and have family commitments.
After graduating high school in 2006 Boudreaux chose McNeese State University because it was close to home. He developed a connection and attachment to McNeese and its traditions, so it was an easy decision to come back.
“My decision to go back to school was initially a financial decision. I saw this as an opportunity to better myself and in turn provide better opportunities for my family,” he explained. “As I started the enrollment process and going through everything I needed to do to come back, I realized the example I was setting for my children and that helped cement my decision.”
Boudreaux and his wife have two children, ages 8 and 10. He says the challenges of going back to school, even online classes, are not easy. Balancing a full-time job, his homework, helping his children with their homework, coaching and everything else life throws at him have taught him to battle through adversity and setbacks.
“I believe this is what a college degree proves and shows. It’s the work ethic, multitasking and pushing through hard times that this diploma represents. It’s more than classes and college credits—it’s dedication and perseverance,” he stated.
When Boudreaux reenrolled at McNeese after 10 years, everything was different and he had no idea where to start. Thankfully, Jodi Willis was there to coach him through the process. Willis is the department head of interdisciplinary studies and academic adviser. She was a tremendous help to Boudreaux by answering his many questions, keeping him on track and reminding him that he could do it.
“I helped Robert get through his Associate of General Studies degree in one semester and then motivated him to continue to pursue his Bachelor of General Studies degree,” Willis said.
Working full time, Boudreaux chose an online degree program. He graduated with an Associate of General Studies in December 2022 and will earn a Bachelor of General Studies in May 2023. With a bachelor’s degree in hand, he plans to move up in his job.
“The beauty of this degree and the education that I received from McNeese is that now I have options and opportunities to seek employment in fields and places that I would not have had access to before,” Boudreaux explained.
For anyone considering attending McNeese, Boudreaux says, “You cannot go wrong. McNeese is a great university full of wonderful people and traditions and choosing McNeese is the right choice.”
“When students enter my office, I try to make them feel as if it is a Judgement Free Zone! I often joke that I will get a sign for my office in hopes it will make them feel more comfortable,” Willis said. “It is never too late to follow your dreams and complete your college degree.”
Willis says she shares many of the same visions of academic excellence that McNeese strives for and that allows her to collaborate with the campus, students and community. This leads her students to graduation and to landing the job of their dreams.
“If you are considering finishing your degree, first, choose McNeese. Secondly, do it. It is really that simple,” Boudreaux says. “I know it’s scary and the fear of failing or not finishing again is real but just jump in and do it. Walking across that stage after everything you’ve been through to get there…is incredible.”
The decision to go back to college at McNeese through the Compete LA program changed Boudreaux’s life. A bachelor’s degree gives him an opportunity to pursue a better paying job or a whole new career, which helps him better provide for his family. And it all began with a message on a paycheck stub.
“I would like to pursue advancement opportunities with my current employer but I am also open to changing my career path altogether,” he said. “This is what McNeese State University has provided me—an open door to endless possibilities.”