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A Look Back - Fortunately, Fondly - By Bill Vidacovich

Hello SLI, USL, ULL students, graduates and lovers of the Rajun Cajun experience! 

As transplants with a great experience of growing up in New Orleans we, Alyson and I, were ready for our new married life together in the beautiful community of Lafayette.

As a newly married couple in December of 1971, we were ready on many fronts – move in, look for work, attend USL, go on a picnic, enjoy our time.  Our main reason for moving to this relatively small but vibrant town in the heart of Cajun Country was to attend USL, graduate and the plan was to, eventually, move back to be near our family roots in the Crescent City.

I had recently been discharged from the USMC after a four year enlistment, which included thirteen months in Viet Nam. Armed with the GI Bill, Alyson and I were lucky enough to find a job that allowed me to attend school in the morning while Alyson worked and then me do her job while she attended USL as well.  Wait, not so fast readers – there’s this little thing called a baby that eventually ended our working arrangement and so off I went to find a night job.

I couldn’t have been luckier (not just to marry Alyson) but to find the perfect job with a then fairly new company called Acadian Ambulance Service.  I was to be their first and only mechanic and began work from 6 pm till 2:30 am.  Life was/is good! This I did until graduation in 1975.

While we didn’t attend many after hour extra-curricular activities, we both enjoyed our experience while at USL.  We both graduated and eventually ended up with a great family of 4 children and great employment.  I stayed on with Acadian and eventually retired after 41 years as a Vice President and Alyson taught first grade at Our Lady of Fatima – a calling that was beyond anything I could have ever accomplished.

Some of the times I remember:
• Going to key punch computer cards after writing my Fortran assignment. Best get it right, as there wasn’t a lot of time to re-run a batch a second time and be at work as well!  Dr. Oliver was quite the architect of the Computer Science department.
• The head of the Physics department coming into the classroom and without so much as a hello, writing on the blackboard for about 50 minutes whereupon he would put the chalk down, collect his books and walk out!
• Riding my Kawasaki 250 on/off road down in the coulee from near out home until popping up near the campus for a quick and exciting trip to class.
• Meeting on weekends with fellow students to study for tests.  Alyson always had a good snack for us to enjoy.
• Getting credit for PE as a former serviceman and testing out of a couple of subjects without taking the class.
• Taking Calc 1 twice!
• Playing handball in a converted room in the back of the old gym.
• Those years are blurred now but went by even quickly back then.
• Feeling great with a newly earned USL diploma, a raise at work, and a beautiful family living life as best as we could in the way God intended for us to do.

Why this trip down Memory Lane?  For you of course! 

For my fellow graduates.  Take your own long overdue look back and remember what it was like to struggle through studies, work, new concepts and ideas that challenged, but refined the who that you are today.  To remember the thrills of accomplishment over mastering a subject (or at least having a better understanding of it) and wanting to delve further into the excitement of learning.  Remembering the friendships that were formed over those years and for the thankfulness of those that live on to this day.  Of course, by logical extension, to reach out to the current occupants of those halls where you once roamed to give a little back to both faculty and students, if only but with a bit of encouragement.  Especially so, during these very different times.

To those who currently fill the seats of yesteryear.  I offer my congratulations in selecting first of all to continue your education and especially so here at ULL.  I firmly believe that you too will someday look back upon these years with great appreciation for the many opportunities provided to you.  Professors, campus life, friends made and for the continuation in the making of the who you are becoming.

For those who are looking in.  Take a hard look at “us”.  The graduates, the faculty, staff, the facilities  and students of the modern day SLI where it all began -  USL where it became its own, and today where it has matured into an even greater university.  Once you do, you will find great pride by those who came before you, those who attend now and those who are awaiting to help educate you in the months and years ahead. 


William “Bill” Vidacovich
Industrial Technology
Class of 1975