McNeese State University alumnus Ross Theriot, a 2012 graduate in mass communication, has been selected as the Horatio Alger Association Alumnus of the Year, an award intended to recognize exceptional leaders who have overcome adversity and go above and beyond in their service to the organization and their communities, as well as for their achievements academically, professionally and philanthropically.
It was the Horatio Alger scholarship that brought Theriot to McNeese in 2008 and changed his life forever. Originally from Creole, medical complications as a child left Theriot with an interest in the medical field. But coming from a poor rural background, a career outside of the oil or agricultural field seemed out of reach. When his home was destroyed by Hurricane Rita in 2005, a scholarship seemed like the only chance he had for following his dream career. In 2008, Theriot applied for and received the Horatio Alger Louisiana State Scholarship to attend McNeese.
“Walking in the door of McNeese as a freshman, I never would have known the impact that McNeese would have on me,” Theriot says. “The love, support and motivation I received as a student from my fellow classmates, faculty and staff helped shape who I am today.”
While at McNeese, Theriot served as Student Government Association president and executive director of McNeese’s Up ’til Dawn, a student-led, student-run organization that hosted annual fundraising events for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, from which he received the 2011 Danny Thomas Leadership Award. That same year, he was even named Homecoming King.
After graduating, Theriot went on to earn a Master of Science degree in infant and child development from the Erikson Institute in 2014 and began his professional life traveling the world, launching and managing pediatric clinical research studies for six years before he decided to return to higher education. Now, he’s pursuing his second master’s degree at the University of California – San Francisco to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.
Theriot has also been a highly involved Horatio Alger Alumni Scholar, sitting on the Alumni Advisory Committee and serving as chair of the 2022 Alumni Summit Planning Committee.
As the Alumnus of the Year, Theriot will receive a $10,000 grant from the association to be used for continuing education, previous educational loans or as a donation to his high school for scholarships in 2022.
“I’m so thankful for the experiences I had at McNeese,” Theriot says. “I will always be proud to be a McNeese alum.”