The late Louis Douglas Curet (Humanities & Social Sciences, ‘47, Law, ‘50) embodied the lively spirit of a “true Francophile.” He completely embraced his French heritage while building a successful career practicing law in Baton Rouge. Through his many travels abroad, he developed a wonderful network of dear friends throughout France. To honor the legacy of his great love of all things French as well as his lifelong support of LSU, his daughter and son-in-law, Jeanne (Agriculture, ‘79) and David (Engineering, ‘78) James, created the Louis Douglas Curet Comparative Law Scholarship in the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center. This new scholarship benefits French-speaking students in the Law Center’s Master of Laws (LL.M.) program.
“Louis‘ ancestors arrived in Louisiana from France in 1719, and he loved sharing his passion for French culture with his family and friends. He took weekly French classes and spoke nearly fluent French. He was the ultimate lawyer, highly respected with an impeccable reputation. In addition, he was a tireless community volunteer associated with many charitable organizations. After he passed away and we considered how we could give back in his memory, this program seemed the natural place for us to make a tribute to him,” said David.
“My dad loved traveling to France each summer where he would rent a car and put hundreds of kilometers on the odometer cross-crossing his beloved France. He traveled alone and navigated with paper maps! He particularly enjoyed having the opportunity to visit the LSU Law students studying in Lyon, France, as well as the LSU French students at their summer program at Barcelonnette, France. My father was deeply devoted to Louisiana and LSU, so we hope that international students will embrace Louisiana and be attracted to our wonderful LSU Law school. We hope that this gift will enable some outstanding students to have the opportunity to study here,” Jeanne shared.
While the Curet scholarship will be awarded for the first time next fall, many students in the LL.M. program exemplify Jeanne and David’s vision for their gift. For example, Natallia Bulko, a Fulbright Scholar from Minsk, Belarus, is touched by Jeanne and David’s generosity because she and many of her peers rely upon scholarships to fund their education.
“The whole society benefits from education, and therefore, financial support is absolutely needed to assist talented students and uplift educational institutions. Thanks to scholarships, I had the opportunity to come to the United States and attend LSU. I know this opportunity motivates me to prepare to do well in my classes and to contribute to my community in Louisiana and back home in Belarus,” Bulko said.
Bulko sees great potential in her studies because the education she is earning in the United States will be beneficial in her pursuit of economic justice. In addition, she loves that her classes in the LL.M. program each take an in-depth focus on concepts of common law. She was also excited to see French influences in Louisiana and experience the cultural interaction among international LL.M. students and students raised in Louisiana.
“The LL.M. program means a lot to me because it is a lifetime opportunity. I cannot only build connections with people from different countries, benefit from local education, but most importantly, I will give benefits to my home country,” Bulko said.
“I began my legal career in Belarus because I believe in upholding democracy and free enterprise,” she added. “Entrepreneurs drive the economy, and ordinary people should have the right to build a better life. Here, I can learn up-to-date contract law and other fields of private law and implement them in my home country, either through practice or academic publication, thus giving more people the opportunity to protect themselves and their business ventures legally.”
Jeanne and David have already felt the impact that Curet has had on LSU students. After his passing, an anonymous donor established a student travel endowment fund in his memory within the LSU Department of French Studies, and they enjoy following the impact of this experience-focused fund. Philanthropy was an important part of Curet’s life, so they hope that he is remembered for his generosity and commitment to service – and that the students selected for this scholarship are inspired to give back as well.
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2021/Spring 2022 issue of Cornerstone, the semiannual philanthropy-focused magazine of the LSU Foundation.