A total of 1,786 degrees were awarded during the UL Lafayette’s 161st Commencement ceremonies Friday at the Cajundome and Convention Center.
Lisa Clement and Martha-Carol Stewart chalk it up to fate.
After not seeing each other for nearly three decades, the UL Lafayette graduates and former Tri Sigma sorority sisters were reunited in an unusual way.
Their daughters – current UL Lafayette students and members of Tri Sigma like their mothers – became roommates this summer. Move-in day yielded a surprise encounter for Clement and Stewart.
“It’s surreal that 30 years later everything has come full circle because of our kids,” Stewart said.
Clement earned a bachelor’s degree in general studies in 1990. Stewart earned a degree in child and family studies in 1992. Separated by two grade classifications, the former sorority sisters were friendly but not particularly close while at the University.
Their reunion changed that quickly.
“Through our conversations because of the girls, we started realizing, ‘Oh my goodness, we have a lot in common,’” Clement said.
Their strongest shared interest? Organizing and decluttering.
Clement and Stewart realized their mutual affinity for keeping living spaces orderly while helping their daughters fold linens, store dishes and position furniture at the house the students rented. “We kept having the same ideas about where to put things,” Stewart explained with a laugh.
Stewart is a former kindergarten teacher who owns a business called Chaos Organizing in Baton Rouge, where the mother of two children lives with her husband.
Clement, the mother of three children, is a former event planner who lives in Houston with her husband.
About a month after reconnecting, Clement approached Stewart with a suggestion. How about opening a franchise in Houston? “We started kicking around ideas and it just snowballed from there,” Clement said. The second business opened in September.
According to Riley Stewart, a sophomore majoring in speech and pathology, said her mom and Clement were destined to meet again at the place they once called home.
“They finish each other’s sentences and have the same thoughts,” she said. “They even have the exact same beds that were bought more than 10 years ago.”
Photo: UL Lafayette graduates Martha-Carol Stewart (left) and Lisa Clement reunited after nearly three decades thanks to their daughters' freindship.