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Strong Foundations

Carmelita “Carmen” Escalante, MD and Consuelo Madere on Why They Give
Strong Foundations

Consuelo Madere and Carmelita “Carmen” Escalante, MD

Why do sisters Carmelita “Carmen” Escalante, MD and Consuelo Madere give to the Ogden Honors College? If you ask them, they’ll tell you that, without a doubt, it’s the students.

“One of the most impactful things is when we get to meet some of the students that are going through the program,” Consuelo said. “They give you hope that if we can get intelligent young people that are from Louisiana that can get educated, that those are the future leaders to help bring our state up. These kids are very inspiring.”

“These kids are the future: of Louisiana, of the country,” Carmen agreed. “I don't see how you can live in Louisiana and not have some connection to LSU. I definitely feel an anchor to the institution and to what we're trying to do so that these young people can have every opportunity to succeed.”

Creating a strong foundation for future accomplishments is a consistent theme with Carmen and Consuelo. Originally from south Louisiana, the sisters have channeled their time and energy into giving others who came from situations like theirs a boost.

“We came from a large family in south Louisiana,” Carmen explained. “My parents didn't go to college; they didn't have a lot of money. We were fortunate for doing so well in our lives that we want to give back, and we want others to have the same opportunity. I feel strongly that it's important to try to help others, especially since we've been very fortunate in our lives to get where we are.”

In 2017, Carmen and Consuelo set up a scholarship in memory of their late father, Henry Escalante, and his strong belief in the importance of higher education. The Henry Escalante Legacy Scholarship is awarded directly by the Ogden Honors College to first-generation incoming students majoring in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or health sciences fields. It provides recipients with $4000 over four years of academic study.

They also hope that Honors students who come from challenging backgrounds will take comfort in the fact that if they have managed to find success through a good education, so can these students.

“You can do it, we did it. If we came from a simple lifestyle and not a lot of financial means, if we did it, others can do it,” Carmen said. “Hopefully that will inspire some of the students in similar environments.

“These are the young people that are going to be so essential to the leadership of Louisiana,” Consuelo added.  “We always studied hard and worked hard. Our parents always said, ‘You're gonna go to college, [even though] we don't know how.'  This is a great opportunity to try and do something for others that are working hard, but maybe don't have the financial means to not get themselves into a ton of debt.”

A member of the Advisory Council since 2013, Consuelo found her way to the Honors College after being recommended by a colleague. Since her roots run deep at LSU, Consuelo joined the Council at the urging of Advisory Council Chair Brian Haymon.

Consuelo, a former executive of Monsanto Company, has leveraged her considerable experience by serving on the boards of the World Trade Center St. Louis, the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation, Guardian Angels Settlement Association and the Sophia Sachs Butterfly House. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from LSU along with her MBA from the University of Iowa, has been certified by the National Association of Corporate Directors as a Governance Fellow and in 2013 attended the Stanford Directors College.

Carmen is newer to the Advisory Council, just finishing out her second year. The eldest of six children, Carmen insisted, laughing, that she is the “bossy one” among her siblings, along with her sister. She attended Nicholls State University and then medical school at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans before doing her residency in internal medicine in Houston, Texas.

Now, Carmen works at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center where she serves as Chair and Professor in the Department of General Internal Medicine in the Division of Internal Medicine. She was named a Top Doctor in Houston in 2013 by the International Association of Internists (IAI) and Outstanding Alumna of Nicholls State University in 2009.

For nearly 30 years Carmen has been a resident of Houston, but she says she still calls Louisiana “home.”

“You know, it's funny, even though neither of us live in Louisiana anymore, you always feel a connection,” she said. “No matter how long it is that you haven't lived here, sometimes I'm talking to someone and I still refer to ‘home’ even though I've lived in Houston for 30-something years.”

Both sisters’ attachment to Louisiana and LSU informs their firm belief in giving back to the community that shaped them and, in the future, will shape the state. Their hopes for the College, then, reflect their hopes for Louisiana. 

“I hope that this is a place that students can continue to grow, and that we are able to, as an institution, support not just the Honors College, but LSU overall,” Consuelo said. “How is it that we can continue to improve higher education? It starts here, and especially with these students that are in this program. You have a chance to come back and do something to bring the rest of the state up. To me, that's my hope.”

According to Carmen, education is not merely a deciding factor in an individual’s life, but lays the very groundwork for success.

“Become the thought leaders in various industries and influence education,” she said. “Because in my view, if you want to be successful, education is a foundation, is a key.”


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Jacqueline DeRobertis | Communications Coordinator 

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