Three Louisiana Tech students have won random-drawing scholarships worth $1,000 each from the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association (LTBA), a non-profit corporation whose charitable mission is promoting the thoroughbred breeding industry within Louisiana.
Sarah Truett, a senior animal science major from Folsom, was the scholarship winner from Louisiana Tech on Louisiana Champions Day at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans in December.
On Louisiana Premier Day at Delta Downs in Vinton in Calcasieu Parish in February, a pair of Tech students, Ashley Chaplinski and Jemini Hill, each won scholarships.
Chaplinski is a junior from Leesville majoring in kinesiology and health sciences. Hill’s hometown is Newport, Ark., but she lives in Calhoun now and is a first-year sophomore majoring in pre-veterinary science.
LTBA draws scholarships four times a year—February, June, August and December—traditionally at each of LTBA’s four “Louisiana bred” race days, each at a different racetrack in a different part of Louisiana. A Louisiana bred race day is an entire day of racing dedicated to Louisiana-bred thoroughbred racehorses.
“The scholarship program is one way we are trying to increase the number of young spectators we have at our sporting events, as well as increase awareness regarding careers in the agriculture industry,” said LTBA comptroller Therese Arroyo. “Before COVID-19, we would take scholarship entries at the racetrack on the morning of the Louisiana bred race day and encourage the students to stay. After the fifth race, we randomly draw two names, each to receive one $1,000 scholarship, and the students were required to be present in order to win. We would take the winners into the Winner’s Circle and take pictures.”
Due to the pandemic restrictions, the scholarships are now applied for through an online social media campaign. The drawings are still held each Louisiana bred race day, but the winner need not—actually cannot—be present on site.
Hill found out about the scholarship opportunity on Tech’s “Vet Set Go TECH!” Facebook page and entered “not really having high hopes,” she said. But …
“I found out I won,” she said, “during my plant science Zoom class when my professor brought it up.”
Chaplinski entered online when a graduating senior in her major sent a link to the scholarship to all of the University’s Exercise Science and Physical Education (ESPE) student organization members and Phi Epsilon Kappa (PEK) Honorary Fraternity (for the Department of Kinesiology) members. She watched the Facebook video of the drawing—and heard her name called.
“I’ll use the money towards my tuition and applications for occupational therapy school,” she said. “I want to give a big thanks to the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association for their amazing generosity.”
Tech equine science professor Dr. Laura Gentry told Truett she’d won while the senior was at a dressage show with her 6-year-old “baby horse,” Rougarou, the name for a swamp monster in the rich Cajun folklore of south Louisiana and Truett’s St. Tammany Parish home.
“Not sure you can get much more Louisiana than that,” said Truett, who will use the scholarship to pay for her final quarter of undergrad this spring. Rougarou, by the way, is a Louisiana-bred thoroughbred.
The next drawing for LTBA scholarships is scheduled for June at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas on Louisiana Legends Night. The August event will be at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City on Louisiana Cup Day.