Teacher, poet, actress, and dialect coach, this Cajun “community scholar,” never misses an opportunity to share her language and culture. Brenda was born and raised in a French-speaking family of seven in the community of Ville Platte, near Chicot State Park. Growing up bilingual, she was embarrassed that her parents couldn’t speak English. Later, her French language would open doors for her that she could not have imagined.
Thanks to CODOFIL (Council for the Development of French in Louisiana), she was able to pursue studies in France, Quebec, Guadeloupe and North Africa. In 1982, she served as interpreter for the Men’s Olympic Volleyball team from Bulgaria (their coaches spoke French). Inspired to write poetry, she was the first recipient of the French Award sponsored by CODOFIL in the Deep South Writers’ Conference in 1986 and again in 1987. She has served as dialect coach on several commercials, having written one in 1986 for Bonus Blend Coffee which was the first sub-titled commercial in Louisiana. She was a member of the Théâtre ‘Cadien, Creole,Inc. and served on the Festival International Board and the CODOFIL board. She has also presented numerous workshops on Cajun culture in Georgia and West Virginia, as well as for the Louisiana State Department of Education.
In 1986, Brenda received a Rockefeller grant to study the Acadian triangle---France, Nova Scotia and Louisiana. She then wrote, directed and produced two 50 minute videos for the French and social studies programs in Louisiana entitled, “Bonjour, l’Histoire: Cajun history for kids, by kids,” narrated entirely by her 4th grade students.
Having taught students ranging in age from 8 to 80, Brenda is currently retired from 34 years in the public school system, but remains very active in the “Cajun Cause,” in many capacities and in teaching French-speaking adults to read and write the Cajun language of their childhood.