The Manship Grad that’s behind the phrase ‘If there are two things we’ll never run out of in Louisiana – it’s gumbo and gumption’

Manship School alumna Lauren Leist

Lauren Leist is a Mississippi native who received her bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Manship School. After graduating from the Manship School with her master’s degree in 2015, she became Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards’ speechwriter.

“My first speech for Gov. Edwards was his inaugural address. There was a line I wrote in the speech that said, “If there are two things we’ll never run out of in Louisiana – it’s gumbo and gumption’ and I believe the phrase still rings true today,” Leist said.

Leist is from Laurel, Mississippi and worked for her hometown newspaper while she was in high school. She chose LSU because the Manship School is one of the top journalism programs in the country and one of the few schools to offer a political communication concentration.

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Leist decided to continue her education at the Manship School and pursue a master’s degree.

The most influential class that Leist took while at the Manship School was a political communication writing class with Professor Robert Mann. The class heavily focused on political speech writing and she was able to hone her craft.

The next summer, Leist took the opportunity to do a study abroad program with the Manship School, and Mann was one of the professors on that trip. Leist remembers sitting at a restaurant their first night in Istanbul and telling Mann that she might want to pursue speech writing professionally.

Lauren Leist (right) with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and wife Donna Edwards

“About a year later when John Bel Edwards won the governor’s election, Robert Mann recommended me to the transition team, I interviewed and ended up getting the job,” Leist said.

Leist is grateful for the opportunities that the Manship School has provided and the places that it has taken her.

“Don’t be afraid of going to your professor’s office hours because the better that they know you and your goals, the better they can help you and give you advice that just might land you your dream job,” Leist said.


Written by Brianna Jones-Williams

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