Re: Who Are You?

Growing up Cajun.
  • Transcript


My name is Billy Tauzin. It’s French. My mother is “Martinez”, so I’m of French-Spanish heritage primarily. And I’m from a little place called Thibodeau in Louisiana. I served in the state legislature and in the Congress – for 25 years, actually, in Congress. And I’m now the CEO and President of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America – otherwise known as PhRMA here in Washington – the trade association that represents about 34 of the largest global pharmaceutical industry. . . here in America.

I grew up in the country – a little place called _________ which wasn’t . . . It was even smaller than Thibodeau if you can imagine. So going to Thibodeau was like going to a big city. And I was sort of, you know, a country boy kind of looked down on by big boys from the city. So I grew up poor. Dad never earned, I think, above poverty. But we lived on a farm and we, you know . . . we literally grew up raising crops, and hunting animals, and catching fish and surviving. And we took care of . . . I remember coming home in the afternoon and I’d say, “Mom, what’s for supper?” And she’d say, “I don’t know. Go get something,” you know? And we . . . I don’t remember being poor. We were always very happy and well taken care of. But looking back on it I realized, you know, we were poor country kids. And so everything from there was an adventure. You know going to . . . going to high school and, you know, reading Shakespeare, and learning you know history, and literature, and science was a great adventure for me. Knowledge was a . . . was a . . was fun. I was able to attend Nicholls State University, which was a home town university there – part of the junior college system initially of Louisiana – a state run university. I’d been elected president of my student body at Thibodeau High, and so I got into school politics at Nicholls as well. But again it was . . . I remember those days as adventurous – of learning how big and wide the world was, and how much there was to . . . to see, and know, and do.

In my senior year at Nicholls, I had a professor who had glaucoma and had trouble with his eyes, and he commissioned me to drive him across America and to Canada one summer. I spent the whole summer driving him around, visiting all the universities of the eastern side of the country – all the way starting from Fayetteville and the University of Arkansas; going up into Canada and Stafford, watching the Shakespearean Festival there; and going on to Quebec and then coming down the eastern seaboard and visiting every one of our great American universities. I remember that as . . . as eye opening. And that same year I helped a state senator get elected, and that opened up all sorts of opportunities for me. Recorded on: 9/11/07