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Pride of Little Egypt: SIU Athletics Announces NIL Collective

Pride of Little Egypt

CARBONDALE – The Southern Illinois University Athletics Department is announcing the launch of its Name, Image and Likeness collective, Pride of Little Egypt.

The collective will support student-athletes in all 17 of SIU’s athletic programs. Alumni and friends can choose a monthly membership or a one-time contribution at www.prideoflittleegypt.com.

“We are thrilled about the direction of Saluki Athletics, and Pride of Little Egypt collective is a major piece of that bright future,” said Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Tim Leonard. “This is how we recruit and retain the best players and bring championships to Carbondale.”

Working with Student Athlete NIL (SANIL), Pride of Little Egypt will allow SIU’s student-athletes to leverage their name, image and likeness. Pride of Little Egypt will work in unison with various SIU supporters to create marketing plans that maximize student-athlete earnings while ensuring that the university’s best interests remain protected throughout.

“This is an opportunity for Saluki Nation to enhance our student-athletes’ experience. It’s one of the top factors in today’s college basketball environment,” said Saluki Men’s Basketball coach Scott Nagy.

Pride of Little Egypt is independent from Southern Illinois University, and the university does not receive any financial benefit from the collective. NCAA rules allow alumni, fans and other donors to compensate student-athletes through the collective, but such compensation:

  • may not be considered “pay for play,”
  • must be in exchange for services provided by the student-athlete, and
  • may not be a recruiting inducement for a student-athlete to enroll or continue to attend SIU.

“Our staff and student-athletes are thrilled about the possibilities provided by Pride of Little Egypt,” said Saluki Softball coach Jen Sewell. “Our recruits and current athletes are excited to advance their personal brand and connect with the SIU community.”

Saluki Athletics has recently experienced a run of high-level success, including the men’s golf team winning the Missouri Valley Conference championship; softball earning the MVC regular-season title; and two Saluki Football players signing NFL contracts.

Little Egypt, a nickname attributed to Southern Illinois about 200 years ago, was the inspiration for SIU’s choice of the saluki, the royal dog of Egypt, as its mascot in 1951.

Student-athletes are available to do social media posts, attend events, sign autographs or participate in a variety of other marketing activities. Potential partners should contact SANIL at billyray@studentathletenil.com.

Saluki Takeover Tour of Southern Illinois engages students, educators, alumni

Granada Theatre, Mount Vernon, Saluki Takeover Tour
The Saluki Takeover Tour of Southern Illinois began Wednesday, April 24, at The Granada Theatre in Mount Vernon.

By Jeff Wilson

The Saluki Takeover Tour of Southern Illinois visited multiple high schools and community colleges and hosted six receptions for alumni and community members.

Chancellor Austin Lane, Associate Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management Wendell Williams, Director of Admissions Sarah Jiter, and many others traveled to high schools in Benton, Carmi-White County, Mount Vernon, Marion, Johnston City, Gallatin County, Harrisburg, Murphysboro, Chester, Hardin County, Du Quoin, Vienna, Meridian, Cairo, Anna Jonesboro, Cobden, Massac County, Carterville, Carbondale, and Joppa,  meeting with administrators and visiting with students who have committed to attending SIU in the fall. The group also visited John A. Logan Community College, Southeastern Illinois College, and met with other educators around the area.

The Saluki Takeover Tour of Southern Illinois ended Saturday, May 4, at Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort in Carterville. Attend by 400 Salukis, the event included welcomed incoming students with an SIU hat ceremony.

Chancellor Austin Lane speaks Saturday, May 4, at Walker's Bluff Casino Resort.
Chancellor Austin Lane speaks Saturday, May 4, at Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort.

“Southern Illinois is a very large area, and we have been all over,” Lane said. “It has been amazing to see all the students and administrators from Chester, to Mount Vernon, from Pope County to Cairo.”

The evening included the SIU Day of Giving trophy presentation, which honored the groups that performed the best during the Day of Giving on Feb. 28. Those groups were: the Balancing Education, Experience, and Reality Scholarship (B.E.E.R.) group, College of Business and Analytics, Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center, School of Law, School of Medicine, and WSIU Public Broadcasting.

Guests also heard remarks from Williams, Athletic Director Tim Leonard, and men’s basketball coach Scott Nagy.

Chancellor Lane addresses crowd at Alto Vineyards
Chancellor Austin Lane (from left), Sarah Jiter, director of Undergraduate Admissions, Carl Franks, associate director of freshman recruitment, and Hannah Lunon, admissions coordinator for Southern Illinois, speak to the crowd Monday, April 29, at Alto Vineyards in Alto Pass.

One of the programs being highlighted by Lane and his staff is the Saluki Commitment, which guarantees that tuition and mandatory fees are fully covered for four (transfer students) or eight (freshman students) consecutive  semesters at no cost to students or families.

Recipients must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a first-time incoming freshman enrolling full-time on-campus in the fall 2021 semester or later.
  • Have a cumulative high school GPA of 2.75 or higher.
  • Have an annual family income less than $103,040 with assets less than $50,000 based on your FAFSA.
  • Be an Illinois resident who attended an Illinois high school.
  • Be a dependent student under age 24.
  • Be eligible for federal financial aid.

“There is no reason in the world for a student from any county in Southern Illinois to attend any other university than the one in their backyard,” Lane said Wednesday, May 1, at Fat Edd’s Roadhouse in Metropolis. “You’re not going to find another school that’s close to you that’s an R2 higher research institution. We’re soon to become an R1 institution. That’s our goal.”

Alumni and friends have gathered for five Chancellor’s Receptions at The Granada Theatre in Mount Vernon on Wednesday, April 24, Morello’s in Harrisburg on Thursday, April 25, St. Nicholas Brewing Co. in Du Quoin on Friday, April 26, Alto Vineyards in Alto Pass on Monday, April 29, and Fat Edd’s Roadhouse in Metropolis on Wednesday, May 1.

Dozens of Salukis have come to each event to meet Chancellor Lane and other SIU leaders.

Chancellor Austin Lane at Fat Edd's Roadhouse in Metropolis
Chancellor Austin Lane addresses the crowd Wednesday, May 1, at Fat Edd’s Roadhouse in Metropolis.

“We want students to know they can come from Mount Vernon, Benton, Carmi-White County, or anywhere else and launch to the world,” Lane said to a crowd of nearly 50 guests Wednesday, April 24, at The Granada Theatre in Mount Vernon. “You don’t have to leave and go anywhere. We have an advantage right here in our backyard.”

At each reception, SIU leaders were met with excitement from alumni and friends from across Southern Illinois.

Nick Hill
Saluki Football coach Nick Hill speaks Friday, April 26, at St. Nicholas Brewing Co. in Du Quoin.

“I don’t know the last time we’ve had an event like this with boots on the ground, going and seeing high school students, giving out scholarships. That’s what it’s going to take,” said Saluki Football coach and Du Quoin native Nick Hill during the reception Friday, April 26, at St. Nicholas Brewing Co.

The Office of Innovation and Economic Development at SIU and the Small Business Navigator Program are partnering with local organizations to offer Business Resource Meet Ups. The purpose of these events is to provide valuable

insights into the Advantage Illinois Loan Program, along with detailed information on the services of the Illinois SBDC and the Illinois APEX Accelerator program at SIU. Events have already taken place at Innovation Hub in Mount Vernon, MAN-TRA-CON in Marion, Morello’s in Harrisburg, Alongi’s Italian Restaurant in Du Quoin, First Missionary Baptist Church in Cairo, Vienna High School, Carbondale Civic Center, and United Methodist Church in Golconda.

Chancellor Austin Lane speaks at Morello's in Harrisburg
Chancellor Austin Lane speaks to a crowd of alumni Thursday, April 25, at Morello’s in Harrisburg.

“We’re preaching pride in the region. We’re preaching legacy. We’re preaching accessibility,” said Lane on Monday, April 29, at Alto Vineyards. “All of those things are keeping our students here at home. We have some wonderful Salukis coming in.”

For more information, call 618-453-4900 or email siuf@foundation.siu.edu.

For more photos and video highlights from the Saluki Takeover Tour of Southern Illinois, visit the SIU Foundation on Facebook. 

Chancellor Lane with Benton students
Benton students
Carmi-White County students
Carmi-White County students
Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon students
Chancellor Lane and Wendell Williams at Harrisburg High School.
Harrisburg High School
Visit to Chester High School
Chester students
Chancellor Lane meets with Murphysboro students
Murphysboro students
Hardin County students
Gallatin County students
Anna Jonesboro students
Anna Jonesboro students
Cairo students
Cairo students
Du Quoin Students
Du Quoin students
Johnston City students
Johnston City students
Meridian students
Meridian students
Vienna students
Vienna students
Cobden students
Cobden students
Massac County students
Massac County students
Carbondale students
Carbondale students
Carterville students
Carterville students
Joppa students
Joppa students
Marion students
Marion students
Pope County students
Pope County students

 

Passion drives Mallory, GRO Community

Aaron Mallory and GRO Community
Aaron Mallory (second from left) and the GRO Community team at the Saluki Ball.

By Jeff Wilson

Aaron Mallory is implementing the skills he learned at Southern Illinois University to advance the mission of his organization, GRO Community.

A mental health service provider, GRO Community specializes in trauma-informed treatment for boys and men from low socio-economic groups and/or Black and Brown communities. One of its keys focuses is curbing gun violence among these groups in Chicago and beyond.

A 2010 graduate of SIU’s College of Engineering, Computing, Technology, and Mathematics, Mallory favors a proactive, process-driven approach to combating these issues.

“We are supporting marginalized communities from a different approach,” he said. “We want to use economics and systems to create change. We want to solve the gun violence issue, which greatly affects Black youth and is heavily intertwined with mental health.”

Mallory came to SIU from Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School in Chicago, and he had to prove himself to stay enrolled.

“I wasn’t the best student in high school, but I wasn’t the worst either,” he said. “Getting into SIU was one of the best things that happened to me. I took University 101 and was able to ground myself in the college experience. I learned life skills and lessons and finished my first year with a 3.7 GPA.”

He joined the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, took part in the Saluki Summer Bridge program, and the Success in Engineering Through Excellence in Diversity program. He eventually became the vice president of Kappa Alpha Psi and received internships with John Deere and Boeing.

“SIU really gave me my foundation. I learned how to navigate business and people,” Mallory said. “My experience at SIU was love. It’s a very diverse environment. It really cultivated the passion within me.”

Returning to Chicago after graduation in 2010, Mallory knew he wanted to be involved in mentoring kids. He earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Chicago.

“I had a job, but it wasn’t my passion,” he said. “I started working on GRO Community full time on March 13, 2020. It grew like crazy. Within a year, we had 10 staff members. Now we have 80, and we’re aggressively hiring now. I am trying to create a pipeline of students from SIU to come work for us. Currently, there are nine Salukis on the staff.”

It was that SIU connection that led GRO Community to become the Cocktail Reception Sponsor for the second annual Saluki Ball in Chicago. With a $10,000 donation to the ball, which raises funds that bridge the financial gap for SIU students, Mallory and GRO Community were among the event’s most notable backers.

“Originally, I was going to buy a table, but then I went online and saw testimonials from students impacted by these funds, and I knew we could do something bigger than that,” Mallory said. “SIU has been really good to me, and I wanted to show appreciation.”

Saluki Takeover Tour: Join the celebration Saturday at Walker’s Bluff

Southern Illinois Celebration, 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at Walker's Bluff Casino Resort

Event is free and open to the public

By Jeff Wilson

CARBONDALE – After traveling to each of Illinois’ 17 southernmost counties, including more than 20 school visits, the Saluki Takeover Tour of Southern Illinois will close with the Southern Illinois Celebration from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at Walker’s Bluff Casino Resort.

Hosted by Chancellor Austin Lane, the event will recognize incoming SIU students. There will also be SIU Day of Giving trophy presentations, a celebration of the university’s recent successes, and a chance to thank our local partners. Many representatives from SIU will be in attendance, including new Saluki Men’s Basketball coach Scott Nagy.

To register, visit https://siuf.org/southern-illinois/walkers-bluff.php. Attendees will receive two complimentary drink tickets, and hors d’oeuvres will be served. This is your chance to join with SIU’s leaders, Saluki alumni and friends, current and future students, and many others for an evening of Saluki pride.

“Saluki spirit is evident everywhere we go, but it has its roots right here in Southern Illinois,” said Chancellor Austin Lane. “These takeover tour events are a terrific opportunity for our local alumni and friends to engage with our leadership and share their Saluki experience with others.”

Lane and many others traveled to local high schools in Anna Jonesboro, Benton, Cairo, Carbondale, Carterville, Carmi-White County, Chester, Cobden, Du Quion, Gallatin County, Hardin County, Harrisburg, Johnston City, Joppa, Marion, Massac County, Meridian, Mount Vernon, Murphysboro and Vienna, meeting with administrators and visiting with students who have committed to attending SIU in the fall. There have been visits to John A. Logan Community College and Southeastern Illinois College.

Alumni and friends have gathered for five Chancellor’s Receptions at The Granada Theatre in Mount Vernon, Morello’s in Harrisburg, St. Nicholas Brewing Co. in Du Quoin, Alto Vineyards in Alto Pass and Fat Edd’s Roadhouse in Metropolis. Dozens of Salukis have come to each event to meet Chancellor Lane and other SIU leaders.

“We want students to know they can come from Mount Vernon, Benton, Carmi-White County, or anywhere else and launch to the world,” said Lane at The Granada Theatre in Mount Vernon. “You don’t have to leave and go anywhere. We have an advantage right here in our backyard.”

“I don’t know the last time we’ve had an event like this with boots on the ground, going and seeing high school students, giving out scholarships. That’s what it’s going to take,” said Saluki Football coach Nick Hill on Friday, April 26, at St. Nicholas Brewing Co. in Du Quoin.

The Office of Innovation and Economic Development at SIU and the Small Business Navigator Program partnered with local organizations to offer Business Resource Meet Ups. These events provided valuable insights into the Advantage Illinois Loan Program, along with detailed information on the services of the Illinois SBDC and the Illinois APEX Accelerator program at SIU. Events have already taken place at Innovation Hub in Mount Vernon, MAN-TRA-CON in Marion, Morello’s in Harrisburg, Alongi’s Italian Restaurant in Du Quoin, First Missionary Baptist Church in Cairo, Vienna High School, and Carbondale Civic Center.

“We’re preaching pride in the region. We’re preaching legacy. We’re preaching accessibility,” said Chancellor Lane on Monday, April 29, at Alto Vineyards. “All of those things are keeping our students here at home. We have some wonderful Salukis coming in.”

For more information, call 618-453-4900 or email siuf@foundation.siu.edu.

Clubhouse 145 donates $3,500 to the Dawg Pound

Clubhouse 145 presents check for $3,500 to the Dawg Pound.
From left: Emma Buesing, Dawg Pound executive vice president, Malayna Russell, Dawg Pound vice president of gameday operations, Jacob Bryant, vice president of gameday operations, Sean Cooney, Dawg Pound advisor, Jacob Vezensky, Office of Student Engagement graduate assistant, Zipper Brandhorst, Clubhouse 145 member, Tyler Lawrence, outgoing Dawg Pound chief of operations, Dylan Chambers, outgoing Dawg Pound president, Corey Crombar, Dawg Pound president-elect, Steve Falat, Clubhouse 145 member, Rick Runge, Clubhouse 145 member, Jolene Falat, Clubhouse 145 member, Tim Leonard, SIU athletic director, Matt Kupec, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations, and Byron Hetzler, Clubhouse 145 member, pose for a photo in the Banterra Center.

By Jeff Wilson

Saluki fans are good at lots of things, but for Clubhouse 145 the main three are cheering on the Dawgs, keeping the party going after the game, and giving back to the university.

The group recently donated $3,500 to the Dawg Pound. Last year, it donated $3,000 to the Balancing Education, Experience, and Reality (B.E.E.R.) Scholarship.

Clubhouse 145, named after the Banterra Center parking space at which they congregate after Saluki football and basketball games, has become a tradition like no other. Started a few years ago by Mike Austin, Rick Runge, Zipper Brandhorst, and Steve Falat, members of the group enjoy a cocktail and some Saluki pride after the games. Many others have become regulars at Clubhouse 145.

“It’s grown beyond our initial expectations,” said Falat. “Our goal is to have fun and show support for SIU and Saluki Athletics.”

Anyone is welcome to join the party, and the group accepts donations during their after-game gatherings. Of course, it takes regular participation to become an official member of Clubhouse 145, which includes branded hats and polos.

The support for the Dawg Pound comes at a moment when the registered student organization is more involved than ever before. Led by SIU senior Dylan Chambers, the Dawg Pound has become the largest RSO on campus. Chambers, who will graduate in May and is a member of Clubhouse 145, is handing the reins over to new Dawg Pound President Corey Crombar.

“Seeing this kind of support just shows how special the SIU community is,” said Crombar, an SIU freshman and Carbondale Community High School graduate. “It’s going to help greatly with travel expenses, giveaways, shirts, and so much more. We’re so thankful to Clubhouse 145.”

The Dawg Pound presents Clubhouse 145 with a lifetime membership.

Chambers also presented the members of Clubhouse 145 with an Honorary Lifetime Membership to the Dawg Pound.

For Sydney Mott, scholarships help bridge the gap from SIC to SIU

 

Sydney Mott, Saline County
Sydney Mott, Saline County

By Jeff Wilson

Sydney Mott’s experience with Southern Illinois University and its College of Business and Analytics started with a great first impression.

When transferring from Southeastern Illinois College, she was considering Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and the University of Southern Indiana.

“I knew I wanted to stay close to home,” she said. “I met Rachel Richey (coordinator of recruitment and retention for COBA) and Benna Williams (assistant lecturer in COBA), and I knew I was going to come to Carbondale. I didn’t even visit USI.”

The Harrisburg High School graduate and Eldorado native knew early on that she wanted to become a certified public accountant and pursue a career with the federal or state government.

“My parents both worked as correctional officers, and I knew I wanted retirement security,” Mott said. “I always loved math, and I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I took an accounting class at SIC and got a job at Kemper CPA Group in Harrisburg, and it all just clicked.”

During her time at SIU, Mott has received multiple scholarships, including the Bill and Barbara Beck Accounting Scholarship, Kenneth J. and Jacqueline M. Hull/Illinois CPA Society Accounting Scholarship, and the Robert and Patricia Sforza Memorial Scholarship.

“When you add them up, these scholarships take the load off,” she said. “Even though donors may not always see the people they support, it’s important to know that student success may not be possible without those donations. It’s helping students not just in school, but it’s helping them find a job and further their lives.”

The adjustment from community college to SIU has been smoother because of the people Mott has met along the way.

“Coming in as a transfer student, you’re being placed in a completely different world,” she said. “SIU has been great. I’ve made great friends. The people in the College of Business and Analytics want to see you succeed.”

Carbondale’s Hardley finds his path at SIU

Simeon Hardley, Jackson County
Simeon Hardley, Jackson County

By Jeff Wilson

Attending SIU wasn’t originally the plan for Simeon Hardley when he graduated from Carbondale Community High School in 2017.

He went to John A. Logan Community College and earned his associate degree, but he decided to take some time off while he figured out what he wanted to do.

“Naturally, I think kids want to get away from home,” Hardley said. “When I decided to pursue my bachelor’s degree, my support system was here. I grew up a big Salukis fan, and SIU felt like home. It’s a great place to grow and develop as a person.”

Hardley was worked with video, but it was taking a class with Julia Rendleman, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Advertising, that led him to choose a path in photojournalism.

“I just fell in love with it,” he said. “That class propelled me in this direction. I’m going to specialize in sports media.”

His journey has led him to a fellowship with the Pulitzer Center in Washington, D.C. After making the trip to the nation’s capital, Hardley stayed in Illinois and focused his work for the Pulitzer Center on the city of Cairo, Illinois.

Recently, he received the Linda K. Henson Photojournalism Scholarship, and he expressed his thankfulness for the financial relief scholarships provide.

“It plays a huge role,” he said. “It puts the idea in the back of your mind that someone trusts you and believes in you. It is so appreciated. It helped motivate me to finish school.”

Hardley said being from Carbondale and going to SIU has opened his eyes to the importance of alumni support.

“SIU has so many accomplished alumni, from athletes to producers, etc.,” he said. “Scholarships like mine show how connected our alumni are to students and the community.”

Lester follows call to serve from Cairo to SIU

Malia Lester, Alexander County
Malia Lester, Alexander County

By Jeff Wilson

Malia Lester wants to help people the way scholarships donors have helped her.

While attending high school in Cairo, Illinois, Malia’s life was changed forever by tragedy. After getting her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Eastern Illinois University, she’s now pursuing master’s degree in social work from SIU.

“My high school boyfriend committed suicide, and that led to questions about why it happened,” she said. “He needed someone to talk to, and I knew I wanted to make sure others had someone they can trust.”

Lester received the C.L. Pete & Margaret Odum Memorial Scholarship, and the timing was particularly meaningful.

“I’m living at home right now to save money. My dad passed away in 2021, and he had been contributing to my education,” she said. “The scholarship took a lot of financial stress off me. It felt like a sign. It felt like someone was looking out for me.”

Lester is an intern at Johnson, Alexander, Massac, Pulaski (JAMP) Special Education Services, which also has a bit of special meaning to her.

“When I was in high school, there was a junior high student who wouldn’t calm down until she talked to me,” she said. “She was a JAMP student. I’m going to miss my first set of kids when my internship ends.”

She and her fiancé plan to move to Charleston after graduation, and that’s where she hopes to begin a long career helping people in need.

“Honestly, I don’t care where I end up as long as I’m doing something I love,” she said.

The support she received from SIU and its donors is something that will stick with her well beyond her time as a student.

“It’s awesome that alumni donate,” she said. “It took so much financial stress off my shoulders. As a first-generation student, I was figuring it out on my own.”

Hamilton County’s Vaughan sought big golf dreams, family atmosphere

Kylee Vaughan, Hamilton County
Kylee Vaughan, Hamilton County

By Jeff Wilson

Kylee Vaughan is living her dream – playing college golf close to home.

The McLeansboro native and Hamilton County High School graduate is a junior at SIU and has received multiple athletic scholarships, including the Diane Daugherty Women’s Golf Team Scholarship, Jane Tally Phelps Athletic Scholarship, and Banterra Bank Scholarship.

“I started playing golf when I was 6 years old, usually at the golf course in McLeansboro or at Green Hills in Mount Vernon,” she said. “My mom and dad are high school golf coaches at Hamilton County, and my brother played at John A. Logan and Rend Lake College.”

Vaughan, now a junior, chose SIU over Murray State, citing the coaching staff and the university’s small-town feel as the deciding factors.

“My time at SIU has been great,” she said. “It’s like one big family. Everything from coaches to the support staff … it’s been a great experience.”

An exercise science major, Vaughan’s academic goals have evolved, and she’s now planning a future as a pharmacist.

“Scholarships have helped me focus on my schoolwork and getting my practices in,” she said. “Being a student-athlete is a major commitment, and time management is important if you’re going to fit everything in.”

Beyond scholarships, donors are vital to every Saluki athletic program. Funds are used to support equipment and facility upgrades, travel costs, uniforms, and more.

The impact donors have on individual students, the university, and thus, the entire region is obvious to Vaughan.

“It’s really important to give back,” she said. “You’re helping someone who’s in the same position you were in as a student. Donors make such a big difference.”

Scholarship guides the way for future educator from Pulaski County

Kaylee Rose, Pulaski County
Kaylee Rose, Pulaski County

By Jeff Wilson

Kaylee Rose graduated from SIU in December and is now teaching second grade at Lick Creek Elementary School.

“My mom and dad went to SIU, and my mom told me how great her SIU experience was,” she said.

The Olmsted native attended Pulaski County High School and then Shawnee Community College before transferring to SIU. She enrolled in the School of Education, following in her mother’s footsteps as a teacher and administrator. It was then that she received financial assistance, including the Donald E. Starzyk Family Scholarship.

“That scholarship helped me a lot,” Rose said. “I didn’t have to come up with the money myself or find student loans. I think it’s amazing that alumni decide to give back. They can choose to spend that money on anything they desire, but they’ve decided to help someone get through college.”

Teaching in a small school district has also further emphasized the need for funding and community support.

“Funding is the No. 1 issue at every school, especially in small districts like Lick Creek,” she said. “Starting out, teachers are severely underpaid, so not having student loan debt is important. The schools themselves require more funding, more community involvement. I’m grateful for my strong community. There are always people willing to help.”

While her time at SIU is over, Rose said she will look back on her time with great fondness because of the support she received and the experience she had.

“I loved my time at SIU. I gained friends that I have to this day,” she said. “I already miss being on campus.”