Student Council Hears from Former US Ambassador to South Africa

Posted October 19, 2017 / Last updated October 23, 2017

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Members and moderators of Jesuit’s student council meet with former U.S. Ambassador James A. Joseph at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts.

One of the hallmarks of Jesuit education is the ability to form leaders as men of faith and men for others. In addition to the various roles of leadership students in athletic and co-curricular involvement, Blue Jays also take opportunities to learn lessons from prominent leaders who have used their positions to serve the community at large. Seven members of Jesuit’s student council had the opportunity to hear from Former U.S. Ambassador James A. Joseph on Tuesday, Oct. 3, in an address he gave to high school leaders at NOCCA.

Joseph is a native of Plaisance, Louisiana, and a graduate of Southern University. He has served in four presidential administrations and was appointed the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa by President Bill Clinton.

IMG_0283Ambassador Joseph began his remarks on an autobiographical note. He was born in 1935 to a preacher and a seamstress. The Ambassador recalled his parents giving him the best leadership advice. His mother taught him to work twice as hard in order to overcoming his geographical, economic, and racial backgrounds. His father reminded him to lead by finding the humanity in all people, even in those who might hinder him. Finally, they taught him that all leadership must stem from a love of service for others. He concluded his remarks with a brief synopsis of the various roles he had held in boards of major companies as well as the roles he held in the Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations.

The floor was then opened for students to ask questions. Ambassador Joseph told the audience of young leaders from around the city, “This is a conversation, not a lecture.” He then went on to answer questions covering a wide variety of topics ranging from the difficulties of leadership to the current state of America and the world. In his distinguished career he said that he was most proud of his work in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and his work alongside South African president Nelson Mandela in the 1990s.

After the questions, a lunch was provided; and there were opportunities to take pictures with and talk to Ambassador Joseph. The members of student council enjoyed talking one-on-one with a man who has held such a long and distinguished career of public service.

The seven students who attended were student council secretary John Howell, executive aide Robert Cerise, junior class president Dowen Fife, junior class vice-president Josef Ernst, junior class rep-at-large John Cashen, and homeroom representatives William Bostick and Scott McKeough. These students were grateful to NOCCA, the Mayor’s Office, and Ambassador Joseph for the inspiring opportunity.