Gov. John Bel Edwards, Dr. James Holly to speak at NSU spring commencement

Gov. John Bel Edwards and Dr. James L. Holly will be the speakers at Northwestern State University’s spring commencement Friday, May 6.

Edwards will speak to graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development and the Louisiana Scholars’ College at 10 a.m. Holly will speak to graduates from the College of Business and Technology and the College of Nursing and School of Allied Health at 3 p.m. More than 950 students are expected to receive degrees.

Graduates of the Military Science/ROTC program will be commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army during the morning ceremony.

Edwards was sworn in as the 56th governor of Louisiana in January. The governor grew up in Amite as one of eight children. With four Tangipahoa Parish sheriffs in his lineage, he learned the importance of public service at an early age.

Edwards graduated in 1988 from the United States Military Academy at West Point. The governor served eight years as an Airborne Ranger on active duty with the United States Army and commanded a rifle company in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He went on to graduate Order of the Coif from Louisiana State University Law Center and set up a civil law practice in his hometown of Amite.

In 2008, he was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives from District 72, where he served for eight years until the voters of Louisiana elected him governor in November 2015.

Edwards and his wife, First Lady Donna Edwards, have three children: Samantha Bel, Sarah Ellen and John Miller.

Holly, a 1965 graduate of Northwestern, is founder and chief executive officer of Southeast Texas Medical Associates. He is a graduate of the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio, where he is an adjunct professor of Family and Community Medicine. Holly is an associate clinical professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at Texas A&M College of Medicine. He was a 2016 inductee into the Northwestern State Alumni Hall of Distinction, the Long Purple Line.

Holly received the 2015 inaugural National Patient-Centered Medical Home Practice Award from the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative and the 2012 National HIMSS Physician IT Leadership Award.

Last year, on the occasion of their 50th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of their graduation from Northwestern State, Holly surprised his wife, Carolyn Bellue Holly, at the NSU Golden Jubilee luncheon by announcing the establishment of Carolyn Bellue Holly Distinguished Professorship in Teaching and Learning.  In addition to the Distinguished Professorship endowment, the Hollys have honored their mothers with the Marie Cobb Bellue Scholarship in Teaching and Learning and the Irene Woodruff Holly Scholarship in Health Care Education.

The Hollys have advanced medical education at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, making several financial contributions to the school. James and Carolyn Holly have also received numerous honors at the Health Science Center including the Dr. And Mrs. James L. Holly University Auditorium and membership on The University of Texas Chancellors Council. In 2012, James Holly was named the 2012 Distinguished Alumni of the School of Medicine.