by Leah Jackson
Gov. John Bel Edwards, First Lady Donna Edwards and friends of the late Linda B. Day planted a tree in her memory on the campus of Northwestern State University Tuesday and announced the creation of the Linda B. Day Memorial Scholarship that will support students preparing for a career in education by pursuing a graduate degree in the Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development. The tree and scholarship acknowledge Day’s dedication to the teaching profession, her work to improve the education system for all students and her desire to encourage others to become educators.
The Linda B. Day Memorial Scholarship was established with a $10,000 gift to the NSU Foundation. Friends can contribute to the scholarship by visiting https://northwesternstatealumni.com/day-scholarship/.
“A two-time graduate of NSU, Mrs. Day was a model alumna who lived a life of service,” said NSU President Dr. Marcus Jones. “Mrs. Day touched the lives of so many and we are honored to be joined by the governor and first lady to hear about Mrs. Day’s life and legacy.”
Gov. Edwards described Day’s sense of humor, work ethic and the close connection they developed with Day who “turned out to be a tremendous blessing to me and Donna and someone who was so much more than someone who was working on my first campaigns for governor.”
“She was so interested in educating children and getting people to go into the profession of becoming educators themselves, making sure educators were treated as professionals and regarded as professionals and that education was a true profession. That’s really what motivated her,” Gov. Edwards said.
First Lady Donna Edwards spoke of Day’s love of “all things purple, her love of this college, her love of education and her love of teaching.”
“Linda was fierce, she was smart, she was funny, she was full of lots of wisdom and wit,” Mrs. Edwards said. “She had a heart like no other and laughter that could fill a room.” She described Day as a mentor, friend, a lifetime educator, a fighter and a voice for those with no voice.
Mrs. Edwards drew correlations between “Steel Magnolias,” the 1989 movie filmed in Natchitoches, and Day’s inner strength. Because of those connections, the Edwards selected a purple magnolia to be planted just inside NSU’s main gate on Central Drive.
A native of Louisiana, Day was a passionate champion for education and helping all students achieve. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1967 and a graduate degree in counseling in 1978 at Northwestern and launched a career as a classroom where her advocacy work began. She went on to become an administrator with the Caddo Parish School System and later served as executive director of the Louisiana Association of Educators, then director of Louisiana Drug Policy and the Office of Drug Policy under Louisiana Attorney General Richard Ieyoub and next, commissioner to the Education Commission of the States.
Her hard work was widely recognized. She received the LAE’s Human and Civil Rights Trailblazer Award and was selected as one of 76 delegates from the United States to attend the World Confederation of the Teaching Profession in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1993, Day was elected vice president of the National Council of State Education Associations, and in 2000, she was inducted into the first class of the NSU Hall of Distinguished Educators.
After retiring, she took on a new role as campaign manager for then gubernatorial candidate Edwards and became a beloved member of the Edwards family. Following a successful campaign, she served on Edwards’ transition team in 2016 and two years later, she was inducted into the Long Purple Line, NSU’s alumni hall of distinction, in recognition of her accomplishments and dedication to the community.
Day passed away in 2019 after a nine-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be enrolled in a graduate program in Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development, a resident of Louisiana and maintain a 3.0 GPA. Priority will be given to students pursuing the Ed.D. in Adult Learning and Development. Student recipients who maintain eligibility will retain the scholarship each semester through the completion of their degree.
Students will apply for the scholarship using the NSU Foundation Scholarship Application https://northwesternstatealumni.com/form/. Applications will be sorted based on financial need. Recipients will be selected by the NSU Foundation Scholarship Committee in consultation with the Dean of the Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development.