“If something happens to me, what are my regrets?” This is the question Episcopal graduate Mikey Diodene found himself contemplating in 2012. Mikey’s dad, Dr. Mike Diodene, Jr., passed away that year. In addition to being Mikey’s hero, Dr. Diodene was a military hero having served in the army for 40 years. Mikey had fond memories of growing up in a military family and attending drill weekends. He had even discussed his desire to serve his country with his dad long before 2012, but the time just didn’t seem right.
Fresh out of high school in 1999, Mikey was determined to play football for LSU. At Episcopal he had been a successful athlete, competing in football and track and field. When it came time to compete for a spot with LSU, he drew on the lessons learned in the Knights’ locker room – work harder, study longer and bring value to your team. The effort paid off. “I walked on at LSU. I made the team. I did it,” Mikey says. The perseverance required to walk on to that team and play football for Nick Saban has served him well as life has unfolded.
After graduating from LSU in 2003, Mikey began a successful career in medical sales. Working alongside local orthopedic surgeons to ensure the latest medical technology was being effectively used to save and improve lives, Mikey came into his own. At this point in his life he dropped the “y” from his name, becoming Mike Diodene, the executive.
In 2012, a series of events began to unfold that would test Mike’s resilience in ways he had not imagined. With the loss of his father, he began reflecting on his own legacy. “I took a step back and looked at things,” Mike says. He realized that he was fortunate to have earned a great education at both Episcopal and LSU. His blessings also included a strong marriage to wife Regina, kids and a flourishing career. However, growing up with Dr. Diodene as his father and role model, Mike learned early on the importance of serving and assisting others. This desire to serve remained and he still yearned to follow in his dad’s footsteps. So, at 34 years old this husband, dad and business professional applied for a direct commission with the United States Army Reserve. Initially, the military pointed to his age as a potential concern, but Mike respectfully requested further consideration. Again, his persistence paid off and a panel of officers approved his candidacy. Mike Diodene became a citizen soldier.
Just as Mike’s military career was taking off, his career was also blossoming and he was asked to oversee sales for Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Mike successfully juggled the requirements of being a soldier and an executive until he was called to active duty at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. When he returned, his job had changed and the two parted ways. For six months, Mike was out of work, enduring the ups and downs of a job search and never giving up. During that time, his wife was pregnant with their third child and the family, who lives in Woodland Ridge subdivision, was hit with the unthinkable challenge.
Mike says being unemployed during the flood of 2016 was actually a blessing in disguise, allowing him to repair his badly damaged home. With a gutted home, a new baby and deployment orders to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield, blessings were certainly needed. Unexpectedly, Mike received a personal visit from his Division Commanding General (3rd Medical Command), Major General William Lee. After seeing the destruction of Mike’s home and the challenges Mike was facing on the personal front, MG Lee provided an unexpected bit of relief. Mike’s deployment orders were canceled, allowing him to continue his family’s recovery process while commanding the rear detachment and remotely managing logistics for the forward deployed portion of his unit. Another blessing came in the form of a job opportunity. Despite the fact that his business suits had flooded, Mike interviewed for a position in casual clothes and got a job with Vascular Access Center. In 2018, he is still with the company and is now the Regional Director of Physician Liaisons in the Department of Business Development and Marketing. The company is supportive of his military service, which means everything to a man who is committed to serving his country.
“When God closes one door, he opens a window.” Mike says looking back on his experiences, he realizes he was more than prepared for the challenges he faced, even if he wasn’t aware of it at the time. Two-a-day football practices taught him to fight through adversity. Episcopal Cross Country’s Coach Dupe taught him to find the positives when faced with challenges. The military taught him to hunt the good stuff. His father taught him to serve others. Putting all of this together, First Lieutenant Mike Diodene is fully equipped to face life with the resilience, determination and fortitude to succeed.
Not only is 1LT. Diodene succeeding, he is also inspiring others. Fellow Episcopal classmate Matt Ward, Commander Select in the United States Navy, personally understands the demands of being a citizen soldier and the depth of character required to handle it well. “I’m also a reservist and understand what a difficult balance it is. You only have two hands, but have to juggle family, a civilian job, and a long list of military duties that you only get two days a month to complete when the active duty side gets all thirty! I could not imagine how difficult it was for Mikey to leave his career to join the Army Reserves, serve actively while simultaneously dealing with the loss of his house during the flood, all while supporting his family as a great father and husband,” says CDR (sel) Ward. “He clearly puts the needs of others first in a self-sacrificing manner.”
Enduring these challenges has only strengthened 1LT. Diodene. When Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, he received orders to deploy and support the recovery. Given his healthcare management experience, 1LT. Diodene’s tasks are often medically focused. In Puerto Rico, he was one of two soldiers tasked with ensuring the safety of the island’s food supplies, inspecting everything from MRE’s to fresh produce. As a soldier, he helped bring 16 Department of Defense facilities back online, reopened six hospitals and assisted in restructuring the operation of an Army ground ambulance company. After hours, as a man who had experienced firsthand the destruction of a natural disaster, he helped locals with recovery efforts. 1LT. Diodene befriended a local family who owned a Puerto Rican neighborhood grocery store and pub that reminded him of the New Orleans eateries he knew as a child growing up in the Crescent City before relocating to Baton Rouge. 1LT. Diodene and another soldier helped the family get their generator running, patched the family’s roof and helped clean up the property. “There were a ton of similarities in the clean-up process over there, when compared to your own clean up at home after a hurricane,” he says when reflecting on how his own flood recovery prepared him to serve and assist others.
and 1LT. Diodene have been married for 12 years and together they have three children: Isabella (age 10), Victoria (age 6) and Nelson (age 2).
In speaking with First Lieutenant Diodene, you get the feeling of calm confidence. He seems to relish learning new things, from the intricacies of medical equipment to the inner workings of a FEMA disaster response. In less than 20 years since graduating from Episcopal, 1LT. Diodene has accomplished so much. He walked on to a highly competitive LSU football squad. He established a successful sales career. He is raising a beautiful family. He is honoring his father with a life of service to his country and to others.
He is resilient. He is prepared. He is a man with no regrets.
We salute you First Lieutenant Diodene. Thank you for your service.
Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.
For decades, Episcopal coaches have been providing that little nudge, direction and support to student athletes. Volumes of research prove that being a part of a team has lifelong, positive impacts on athletes. The benefits students reap from interacting with a great coach are equally as impressive. Here are just a few personal examples from Episcopal alumni.
Episcopal coaches and teachers are invested in student success. Walk the halls of Lower School and you will find that the same coach who runs out of the tunnel on football Friday nights directs a row of kindergarten students quietly toward the gym or the coach who led her team to the state volleyball playoffs is the same coach running drills with first graders in Phillips Gym.
“We like to believe that Episcopal has a physical education experience that serves each student’s physical development. Our coaches are professionals that have devoted their lives to teaching students how to develop and care for their body. They just so happen to also be members of our varsity coaching staff. Every day in almost every grade level, our coaches are teaching our students how to move, have proper form, and develop aspects of health to better each student’s life. It’s in our best interest, as these are the same students that will fill out our athletic teams and put in the extra effort that is crucial in remaining a competitive program in Baton Rouge,” says Episcopal Athletic Director Randy Richard.
Members of the Episcopal coaching staff are highly-qualified professionals, who also know what it is like to be an athlete. “From master’s degrees to special certifications and collegiate and professional athletes, our staff are indeed experts in their field. They have the experiences to know what it takes to be successful and the understanding of what truly matters in life. Beyond each of our coaches’ awards and accolades, they are good people that truly care for each and every student. Our students know this, respect this, and buy in to what we do and how we teach it. This common bond of trust and respect is what often gives our teams the edge over other programs,” says Richard.
The impact of a coach on the lives of players goes well beyond wins and losses. Oftentimes, coaches are who alumni remember as going the extra mile, pushing them beyond their perceived limits and molding them into who they are today.
Don't Miss Friday Knight Live and Homecoming 2018!
We invite you to come back to Episcopal for Homecoming on Friday, September 28th. Homecoming is a great opportunity to reconnect with Episcopal coaches and teachers as the community comes together for this special occasion.
New this year!
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Game time - 7:00 pm
Free football game tickets for those who attend the tailgate. Campus tours available for those interested.
Jambalaya dinner will be served near the field thru the first half.
Friday Night Live
Parking lot near the home team bleachers
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Current families and alumni are all invited to participate in the festivities, which will include a DJ, balloon artists and a video game truck. Food and drinks will be served in the tent. Please stay for the football game at 7:00 pm. The tent will stay open thru halftime.
Friday Knight Live is a combined event sponsored by Squires & Alumni Affairs.
“Even when folks are hitting you over the head, you can’t stop marching. Even when they’re turning the hoses on you, you can’t stop.” Barack Obama, 44th US President
The 2016/2017 Accolade features a smiling Kris Jackson with this quote from former President Obama beneath him. This is the quote chosen by Kris for his senior quote. As you’ll hear in the video below featuring Kris’ mother Sandra Jackson, Kris faced a tremendous challenge at a very young age and kept moving forward to become the successful adult he is today.
Watch the video below to learn more about his story and the compassion of the Episcopal community.
Kris Jackson is a great example of a student who made the most of his Episcopal experience – an experience that in many ways changed the trajectory of his life. In fact, he says because Episcopal pushed him out of his comfort zone and encouraged him to explore new opportunities he learned more about himself and grew as a person. Kris is a reserved young man who never imagined participating in activities such as drama, cross country or computer science. With the support of his family and the Episcopal coaches and teachers, he did all of this and more.
Kris was never a runner, yet he became a state champion cross country athlete. This was partly because of the Jackson’s family philosophy that you do not quit, even when you want to. Ultimately, Kris’ cross country coaches and teammates became an extension of his family. Even today he still drops in for a run with the Knights whenever he is back in Baton Rouge.
Kris also found family at Episcopal within the U-Knighted Club. As a part of this group, which is dedicated to diversity and inclusion, Kris found his voice. He and his fellow club members organized presentations for the entire Upper School and encouraged their classmates to explore the perspectives of others.
It was in an independent study on computer science his senior year that Kris found his path. Needing an additional elective Kris sought the advice of the Dean of Students. The Dean suggested he enroll in an independent study on a topic he had never explored before. Kris chose computer science and the experience sparked a love for computers and tech that still shapes his goals today.
Kris’ Episcopal accomplishments tell a true success story - 2014-2016 LHSAA Cross Country Composite All-State, 2014 LHSAA 2A Cross Country State Champion, 2015 LHSAA 2A 3200 Meter Runner-Up, 2017 LHSAA 2A 3200 Meter Runner-Up, 2016 Episcopal's Cross Country team captain, 2017 Episcopal's Track and Field team captain, 2015 and 2016 Episcopal's Coaches Cross Country Award, 2017 Episcopal Track and Field Coaches Award, 2014 Episcopal's Most Valuable Runner Award.
Kris was also quite accomplished in the classroom, earning a four-year academic scholarship from Rhodes College in Memphis. Now at Rhodes, Kris continues what he started in the Episcopal Upper School. After that defining independent study, he is pursuing a major in computer science. He is an active member of the Men of Distinction Club, which is much like the Episcopal U-Knighted Club. He is also in his second year as a distance runner on the Lynx track and field team.
Exploring the opportunities available to him, being open to new possibilities and pushing himself out of his comfort zone with the support of family and the Episcopal community have helped Kris Jackson grow into an outstanding example of an Episcopal Knight. To hear more from Kris in his own words, click here to read In the Face of Adversity, a blog post he penned his senior year.
Good luck this year at Rhodes, Kris. The Episcopal community is always with you!
Leave us a comment below, and tell us what Episcopal has meant to you.
Episcopal congratulates 2018 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee April Brown ʼ95! April was named to the Hall of Fame at the annual sports banquet at the end of the school year. Hall of Fame honorees are selected each year based on their outstanding contributions to Episcopal during their time as a student or later on as a graduate.
April truly left her mark on Episcopal athletics, participating in basketball, volleyball, and track and field. She was the recipient of the Annslee Laura Phillips Female Athlete of the Year award and named the Advocate Athlete of the Year. In addition to lettering in multiple sports, April was a well-rounded student participating in activities including choir, French Club and Science Club. After graduation, she attended Division I DePaul University where she was a member of the women’s basketball team.
Nominations for the Episcopal Athletic Hall of Fame are accepted each spring. Previous honorees include Van Hiles ʼ93, Meghan O’Leary ʼ03 and Jimmy Williams ʼ97.
team. While at Episcopal, she was a member of the Spanish Honor Society, as well as a member of the Speech and Debate Team and the Student Council. She was a Writing Center tutor, an honors thesis student and active in numerous community service efforts.
We are #episcopalproud.
The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness. – John Muir
Episcopal graduate Emory Ellis is making a difference in the world through her research of forests across the globe. After graduating in 2016, Emory began studying at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. This summer she is spending her time in the Harvard Forest through Harvard University as a part of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates. Emory, who is the daughter of Episcopal graduate Randi Simoneaux Ellis ʼ90, says the experience truly is an honor:
Episcopal alumnus Dion Warr '90 reflects on how his grandmother's influence instilled a lifelong love of learning and how he hopes to share that love with others through his Spirit Mind Body Capital Campaign participation.
I remember making the trip back and forth from Plaquemine to Episcopal each day. As I logged the miles between home and education I was filled with excitement, hope and promise. At Episcopal I made lifelong friends; I participated in everything from service projects to track. I remember the feeling in Foster as exams approached, the camaraderie in Webster Refectory and mentorship of teachers and coaches. Episcopal left a lasting imprint upon my life. So much so that my wife and I have entrusted our own children to the school. The education and character development I received at Episcopal set my future path for success. This path originated back home before I ever crossed the river for school and before I ever became a Knight.
On my fourth Christmas, I received a Raggedy Ann and Andy chalkboard from Santa, which almost exclusively stayed at her house, where she lived with my great-grandmother. On one side was a green surface with the eponymous characters, a stamped set of the upper-case alphabet and numerals; on the other was a plain blackboard surface. When I spent time with her after school and during summers while my mother was at work, we would fill the chalkboard with words, sentences, and arithmetic for hours as she would ask questions, prompt me for answers, and prod me for explanations. When I could not answer or explain, she would send me off to find the information necessary from the dictionary, the encyclopedia, or from the old textbooks that my mother and uncle had discarded which somehow had found their way into her inventory. Then I would report back what I had found out, frequently having to discuss how I had come to find the information necessary to complete the task, solve the problem, or become sure of my answer.
I never recalled any hint of discouragement with her as to my young attempts to understand and/or explain the world, ignorant or misinformed as they might had been at times. When I had set down a wrong-headed path, she would inquire about facts and point out flaws in reasoning or mistakes in computation, or facts, or verb tense, or ask me to reconsider what I had recited. While she did possess the free time to engage me in such exercises, she seemed never to tire in the process, all the while laying a foundation for love of knowledge and of learning in her youngest grandson.
Though she expressed disappointment that I would not be spending as much time with her when I was accepted into Episcopal prior to my sixth grade year and would necessarily be traveling back and forth across the river for almost an hour and a half each day, she could not have been more pleased that I would be attending a school which would further serve to challenge me academically. She celebrated my accomplishments but always reminded me to keep working and to not “rest on my laurels”.
She was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was in high school. After a certain amount of time and fight had passed, she would stay with us from time to time while she continued to make the circuits between doctors’ offices, rounds of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. Even through rehabilitation, complications and her increasing frailty she continued to inquire about my studies and press me about college. During one of my last visits with her at the hospital, I was able to let her know that I had received my early acceptance letter into college; she looked up, nodded and squeezed my hand. She passed during winter exams just a few days later.
If you’d like to make a gift in honor of someone who has inspired you or if you’d like more information on the Spirit Mind Body Capital Campaign, please contact Mellie Bailey at 755-2687 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dion Warr, CPL
After graduating from Episcopal, Dion studied Biological Chemistry at Tulane University. After graduation, he worked in industrial construction, right-of-way acquisition and project management prior to returning to work with his mother and stepfather as an independent petroleum landman. He is married to the former Jennifer Seaton Wendt with two children (the younger of whom graduated from Episcopal in 2017) and resides in Baton Rouge. He is active in his local and national professional landman associations, serving on the Board of Directors of each as well as chairing educational and technology committees and events, with a concentration on integrating each in the mentoring of current and future landmen.
The story of Evangeline depicts a strong woman who trusts her own heart and remains committed to a dream, refusing to settle for less despite the challenges and obstacles this presents. Such a compelling character leaves a lasting impression on the audience as they experience first-hand her lifetime of waiting and hoping. But what is it like to be Evangeline?
first performance fueled her love of theater and she knew she had discovered her niche.
Upon graduation Ashley thanked her family for providing her with the Episcopal experience and headed off to Belmont University with a sense of promise and purpose. At Belmont East in New York, Ashley attended classes in the Empire State Building and interned at MTV Studios in Times Square. She dedicated herself to her studies and spent long hours at the studio gaining real-world experience. With such passion and commitment, she graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration focusing on music and production. Ashley’s hard work also earned her a job with MTV right out of college as the Studio Coordinator for shows such as Total Request Live, MTV News and the annual New Year’s Eve Special. She says she truly loved the work and the opportunity to meet celebrities such as Madonna, Stevie Wonder and Green Day. Her 100 percent commitment to the dream had truly paid off.
follow her heart, something quite unexpected occurred. The state of Louisiana got into the film industry. This meant Ashley, with her years of experience in the entertainment business, could come home to be with her love, while remaining true to her dream.
Ashley remembers back to her early relationship with Travis, who just happens to be a Cajun, and who had never seen the story of Evangeline. She brought Travis to the show’s ten year anniversary run at Playmakers. Travis, like most others who see it, was moved by the story of love and loss and waiting. In fact, he was so moved by the production that while walking out of the theater, the two decided right then and there that if they ever had a daughter her name would be Evangeline.
Evangeline Ann Fabre was born in May of 2013. Following her heart back to Baton Rouge was truly worth it for Ashley, having married Travis in August of 2009. Soon, their second daughter Adelaide Mary was born in April of 2015. Ashley worked in the Baton Rouge film industry for ten years, including 25 productions for networks like Syfy and Lifetime. She enjoyed the work, but eventually the 16 hour days proved to be too much for this wife and mom.
To focus more on her family, Ashley broke into the world of development at the Manship Theater. Later, in November of 2017 she was named the Director of Development for the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, whose mission is to foster the creative capacity and vibrancy of the capital region through advocacy, resources, and education. For Ashley, sharing her love of art has helped her come full circle, back to where it all began. Her new role has given her the opportunity to reconnect with the very people she first met on the Episcopal stage as a third grade lip sync performer years ago.
As the 20th anniversary of Evangeline draws near, Ashley feels a connection with the lead as strong as ever. Like Evangeline she never settled for less, she made her own decisions regarding her life and she trusted her heart to lead the way. Ashley looks back on her time at Episcopal and says the experience and the people here have made her who she is today.
She remembers former theater director Danny Tiberghein’s poster that said “Why be Normal?” and reflects daily on his influence. Each day she hopes to make him proud. She credits current theater director Paige Gagliano with instilling in her a sense of purpose as she helped bring meaning to the scripts they performed. She remembers Bible study with Mrs. Johanna Leonard and the sense of community and faith that Episcopal created for her.
When asked what advice this original Evangeline has for today’s Evangeline, Ashley offers this:
“Enjoy the ride. It’s so special to be on that stage and to be a part of that community.” Ashley also hopes the current Evangeline will take the experience with her wherever she goes, similar to how Ashley has done since first portraying the role.
Ashley Day Fabre has crafted a life that she loves, while remaining true to herself. She lives by the motto “Everything happens for a reason”. Looking back it’s easy to see that everything that happened led her to her biggest, most rewarding roles – wife, mom and passionate arts promoter.
Congratulations Ashley. Evangeline would be proud!
The 20th anniversary run of “Evangeline” begins this weekend. Click here to purchase your tickets today!
For people of a certain generation, January 28, 1986 is a defining moment. After months of eagerly anticipating the launch that would bring a teacher into space, everything changed in a split second. For people who were school-aged at the time, it was the first major news milestone they experienced. They can usually recall with clarity where they were, what they were doing and who they were with when the day unfolded. They remember the images of columns of white smoke cascading down after the shuttle broke apart and the collective feeling of grief for the seven crew members on board who were not coming home. The memories are lasting for so many, including 1997 Episcopal graduate Barclay Mullins. Mullins remembers being at Trinity Episcopal watching the tragedy unfold with classmates, like thousands of others across the nation.
As the film was being cast, Mullins says the group received an unexpected phone call. Coach Les Miles had heard about the project and wanted to be involved. The project’s organizers, who were ecstatic to have interest from such a recognizable figure, cast Coach Miles as a bad guy. In the film he portrays the role of NASA engineer Nelson, who was determined to see the launch go on despite concerns about freezing temperatures and their potential impact on the orbiter’s o-rings.
Sharing a scene with Coach Miles only added to Mullins’ excitement. He is also thrilled to once again be working with filmmaker Nathan VonMinden whose 2011 film “Uganda Man” was made for less than $5,000, but earned more than $200,000. “Angry Men” was shot in San Antonio, Texas because of VonMinden’s connection to the city. Crews were given access to film inside city hall and the local army base, and even San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg made a guest appearance. “A lot of people in this film have a lot of experience,” says Mullins. “I’m very curious to see where this goes.”
moments that taught him an important lesson: “Live life by the Golden Rule and treat everyone the way you want to be treated.” He says he learned similar lessons while at Episcopal. “It did create structure, discipline and responsibility. You had to work for everything you got,” he says. Looking back he feels blessed to have been a member of the school community since the seventh grade. Last year, Mullins attended his 20 year class reunion. He enjoyed reconnecting with fellow classmates and says it was fun to share stories, memories and photos.
Congratulations on embracing life’s adventures. We can’t wait to see the movie!
We all have those moments – when what we need to happen happens; when we can feel an invisible guide moving us along a path; when unimaginable things simply line up in just the right order at just the right time.
Such a chill-bump-eliciting experience is just what 2013 Episcopal graduate Sharani White has been living since graduation. White’s journey began her junior year at Episcopal. She says she met with her college counselor, who suggested she take the Intro to Engineering class. After all, she was good in math and science. So with that White signed up and discovered that engineering was, in fact, her niche. Her passion led her to Georgia Institute of Technology, an institution known for engineering, technology and research.
Sharani left for Atlanta full of excitement and confidence. She felt ready for college and ready for the world. You may expect that Sharani immediately excelled. That’s not exactly what happened.
She failed two classes.
At this point Sharani’s story changes. She fell back on the faith that had gotten her into Tech originally. She began praying, asking God to send someone to help her. This someone arrived in the form of a Tech classmate. He had a 4.0. He enjoyed helping others with their studies. He was also her boyfriend. Sharani says after David realized that she was in trouble academically the two became determined to turn the tide, both for her academic success and so that they could remain together. Sharani remembers thinking “this is clearly the person God sent to help me.”
Sharani learned to prioritize her courses and studies. She learned to read ahead and prepare. She offers this advice to Episcopal students – don’t go to class to learn, but to get answers to questions you already have because you have read and looked at the material beforehand. Ultimately, Sharani boosted her GPA. Her peer group expanded because she was no longer struggling. Her outlook improved and now she shares her story in an effort to help others. “It’s ok to ask for help,” she says. “It’s ok to not know everything. You should ask for help and do it early."
She accepted a position at McCarthy Building Companies as a Project Engineer for the southeast region. (The other two companies assured her that there would be a position for her with them if she ever changed her mind.) Her plan now is to work full-time for a year and return to Georgia Tech in 2019 to begin that graduate program, in which she has already been accepted.
Are you an Episcopal alumni? We’d love to hear your story. Contact us here.