Fourteen LSMSA graduates return for Connections Weekend

Fourteen graduates returned to the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts (LSMSA) to speak at the school’s annual Connections Weekend which took place on Oct. 18-19. The speakers met with current students to offer insight about their time at the school, as well as to offer college and career advice.

This year’s attending speakers were: Mimi Spahn Sattler (’11); Emily Brumfield (’03); Ikenna Okereke (’92); Tsun Sheng Ku (’90); Jay Bienvenu (’93); Jonathan Billiot (’09); Clifford Foster (’07); Annaliza Nieve (’91); Christopher Jay (’98); Beth Colvin (’98); Sarah Hebert (’02); Alice Shikina (’89); and Lindsay Elliott-Smith (’08).

Mimi Spahn Sattler, of New Orleans, graduated from LSMSA in 2011. She received a Bachelor’s in Neuroscience from the University of Southern California, and currently serves as the education manager at Public Lab, a non-profit organization focused on environmental research and protection. She spoke about community science and opening research to people facing environmental justice issues.

Emily Brumfield is an emergency medicine doctor who has lived all over the country. She studied cell and molecular biology at both LSU and Tulane, where she became interested in reproductive justice and health inequities. She continues to incorporate that passion of helping people into her work. Brumfield spoke about how to channel one’s passions into service, regardless of career choice.

Ikenna Okereke is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Washington University School of Medicine. He is now a cardiothoracic surgeon and the head of an NIH-funded laboratory that focuses on the intraluminal environment seen in esophageal diseases. He discussed his life as a surgeon, basic science research and how helpful LSMSA was to his career.

Tsun Sheng Ku and his family moved to Houma, Louisiana from Taiwan in 1979. After graduating from LSMSA in 1990 he enrolled at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama where he graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry. Ku went on to pursue a medical degree from the University of South Alabama, College of Medicine and proceeded to do his residence training in internal medicine and pediatrics.

Jay Bienvenu, from Lafayette, Louisiana, graduated from LSMSA in 1993. He has since established a career in software development, and currently develops custom applications for small-business clients in and around Baton Rouge. He spoke about documentation and information tips and techniques that can be used in every facet of life.

Jonathan Billiot graduated from LSMSA in 2009 and enrolled at Baylor University. In the five years Billiot was there, he graduated with four majors and interned at the US embassy in Morocco. He currently works as a project manager and financial consultant for Ark Financial where he helps small business owners scale their business. His presentation was titled “Ten Things I Wish I’d Learned Ten Years Ago” and gave students tips to accelerate their academic and career success.

Clifford Foster graduated from LSMSA in 2007 and proceeded to get an accounting degree from Oglethorpe University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He’s now responsible for driving adoption of Google’s core media platforms, Google Search and YouTube, among large brand and performance advertisers. He spoke about how the way people consume media has dramatically changed. Students learned how digital advertising powers the internet and how Google Search and YouTube provide the capability for advertisers to reach consumers.

Annaliza Nieve is a 1991 graduate of LSMSA from Harvey, Louisiana. After studying communications at Tulane University she worked as a TV promotions producer for ABC and FOX affiliates. Now she’s a self-employed brand strategist and creative director, working with startups and established brands to help them connect with their best customers. She spoke about how brand marketing is a lot like online dating and how everyday social media use is a valuable skill for a résumé.

Christopher Jay, of Sarepta, Louisiana, graduated from LSMSA in 1998 and went on to Centenary College of Louisiana where he received a degree in professional writing. He has contributed articles to publications including Louisiana Life, Country Roads Magazine, and Louisiana Cookin’. He and his partner, Sara Hebert, produce podcasts from their home in Shreveport, Louisiana. They spoke together on their decision to remain in Louisiana following the completion of their educational journeys, and how that decision has impacted their lives.

Sara Hebert is a 2002 graduate of LSMSA from Abbeville, Louisiana. She studied arts in digital media at the University of Denver where she received her Master’s degree. Sara went on to be the marketing director for Moonbot Studios and continues to work with independent creatives in the animation, gaming, and entertainment industries. Sara and her partner Christopher Jay produce podcasts from their home in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Beth Colvin, of Doyline, Louisiana, graduated from LSMSA in 1998. She went on to Louisiana tech and LSU and currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida where she is the editor of The Forum. She spoke about her time at LSMSA and how it prepared her for the future.

Alice Shikina, of Lafayette, Louisiana, graduated from LSMSA in 1989 and went on to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre from Miami University. She now owns a mediation and arbitration business. She says her first Muay Thai fight gave her the grit and courage she has today, and her experiences honed her communications skills. She discussed how improving your communications skills can get you ahead in life.

Lindsay Elliott-Smith is an immigration attorney from Alexandria, Louisiana. After graduating from LSMSA in 2008, she got her degree in English. During law school, she studied in Guatemala, Korea and Argentina, and interned in DC before taking a clerkship in Cleveland, Ohio. She spoke about overcoming anxiety and creating your own paths to success.

Speakers participated in a panel discussion on Friday night before offering individual sessions for students Saturday morning. The panel discussion is archived and can be viewed at

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