SOWELA has flying tiger mascot - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

SOWELA has 'Flying Tiger' mascot

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

SOWELA Technical Community College now has a mascot. They are the "Flying Tigers" and the images that will help portray the college's identity have been unveiled.

It may seem like a cosmetic change, but it's more.

As the big reveal gets underway, college officials show a video which begins with historic footage of fighter planes and General Chennault for whom the former air base, where SOWELA is located, is named.

The narrator describes the airmen as "schooled in the fighting tactics, Chennault has proven superior. Roaring aloft, they seek the enemy with their flying general still at the controls!"

And then the new "Flying Tigers" shoots across the screen, making the new mascot official at SOWELA.

The Flying Tigers reflect the college's history and connection to the former air base, where it is located.

Though the fighter plane will likely be seen the most -- the tiger image lends itself to competitive sports which may come in the future.   

Getting a mascot is expected to help SOWELA better develop its identity in the community as spokesman Brett Downer explains.

"A mascot at SOWELA means we'll be able to build school spirit because there's more of a personal identity, community spirit because there's more of a personal connection, because there's a name attached to the school and even fundraising and other community connections," Downer said.

The logo was designed by SOWELA graphics arts graduate Blake Hebert who is hearing impaired. His interpreter signed as he explained how he came up with the design.

"He just likes the tiger and the aviation and he just wanted to put it together. So, that's how he decided to do it. They wanted to vote on it and they did,"said Hebert, through the interpreter.

Hebert is excited his design has been chosen by those who cast pennies, so to speak, thereby voting in the "Flying Tigers" as the mascot that will help shape SOWELA's identity for the future.

There's a lot happening at SOWELA this year and in the future -- including efforts toward a new accreditation.   

Chancellor Dr. Neil Aspinwall said it's going to be a big year as SOWELA celebrates 75 years and prepares to train workers for huge economic opportunities coming to the community.

"Seventeen hundred permanent jobs that are coming to this area, 8,000 indirect jobs and 14,000 construction-related jobs. We have to get ready. So, the state of Louisiana and our governor has said we're going to commit $20 million to a regional training facility on the SOWELA campus, so that is coming," Aspinwall said.

He said plans for upcoming accreditation overshadow everything.

"We've been trying to do this for 10 years, and that is a new accreditation process. It's called the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. We were admitted into candidacy this past June. We've been fast and furiously working on our compliance certification  and about three weeks ago, we were notified that our team will be back in November of this year for our final visit and we will pass. I have all indications that we will pass," Aspinwall said.

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