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1983 Society member Sue Rosenthal ('85) helps others find sources of strength

Throughout her life, Sue Rosenthal (‘85) has been pleasantly surprised to discover various sources of strength. From achieving high test scores to being accepted into advanced programs, Sue still recalls those early achievements. And while she doesn’t rest on her laurels, she does allow her past achievements to serve as reminders that she has what it takes to tackle hard situations.
The daughter of a farmer from Bayou Rapides, Sue grew up with parents who were not highly educated, but who valued education. Despite living in a rural area, Sue learned to talk by watching her grandmother’s “stories” with her, so she never had the same country accent as her cousins.

“I knew I did well in school, but I never really understood that I was smart until my 3rd grade Black teacher let something slip,” recalls Sue. “I was painfully shy, but when I was the only one to answer a particular question correctly, she told the class, ‘and that’s why she outscored all of you on these tests.’ That teacher, Margie Dexter, made me understand I was putting false limitations on myself, and that I needed to start looking out for myself.”

With this newfound knowledge of her own abilities and aptitude, Sue began to see the value in advocating for herself, even making phone calls to the school board office to discover that she had qualified for junior high Gifted and Talented classes when she didn’t hear back after testing with her parish.

An avid reader of the daily newspaper, Sue learned through a legislative report in the Alexandria Daily Town Talk that LSMSA had been formed. Since she was helping teach some of her own high school classes by this time, Sue knew the new school could be a viable option for her education. And with the help of her respected assistant principal, she convinced her parents it would be a good idea.

“Being from a small town, it takes time to gain perspective when meeting classmates from big cities like Baton Rouge and New Orleans who have more social skills and life experience,” says Sue of her time at Louisiana School. “But that’s when I started to discover who I was.”

After graduating from LSMSA, Sue earned her undergraduate degree in microbiology from the prestigious Howard University, which she had enrolled in sight unseen through a full scholarship.

“This farmer’s daughter was so grateful to be in such an historic place, attending an incredible school with fantastic African American professors who understood my history, where wonderful historic icons like Thurgood Marshall had graduated,” says Sue.

After earning her master’s in immunology from Stanford, the timing of fellow Howard alum and icon Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall's death aligned with a lack of funding in the sciences, leading Sue to pursue her law degree on scholarship at the University of Texas Law School.

“My decision to go into law wasn’t all about money -- I had always wanted to be an attorney,” says Sue. “But this poor Black child from Rapides Parish had worked really hard to get where I had gotten, and I knew I hadn’t come this far to end up in a position where I would have to constantly be worried about funding.”

Now a litigation attorney with ExxonMobil, Sue wants to help others remove barriers to their success, just as she's done for herself all these years.
 
“From Louisiana School to Mt. Triumph Missionary Baptist Church in Boyce, I will never forget the places and people who helped me see beyond my circumstances and teach me skills that would propel me forward,” says Sue. “That’s why I give back.” 
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