SIU College of Business and Analytics Prepares Students for Success

Students in the SIU College of Business and Analytics receive a helping hand through the many services its Business Placement Center offers. Students receive training on everything from etiquette lessons to how to craft an effective resume.

Services start the first day a student attends classes at the College of Business and Analytics and continues throughout the student’s career.

Thomas Becker, employer relations coordinator for the college says that students benefit from a wide array of career development opportunities, programs, career fairs, and receive exposure to many employment options.

“We host business fairs for the students and connect students to employers. We also like to take students on exploration trips to corporation headquarters in cities across the country. In the Spring of 2019, we took approximately 50 students to Nashville’s Country Music Association’s (CMA) headquarters where they listened to the CEO of CMA share her business experiences with the students,” said Becker.

Bridgette Sargent, Assistant Dean of Students Services at the College of Business and Analytics says the goal is to take the students to major cities across the country.

“We have taken trips to St. Louis where we visited the St. Louis Blues Hockey headquarters and that trip was invaluable. We would love to take them to Indianapolis and Atlanta as we have several alumni in those cities as well. The experience for the students is impactful and they learn a great deal from our alumni about business. It is so worthwhile to let them get first-hand experience.

But, it costs money to make such trips,” said Sargent.


Student feedback regarding the exploration trips:

“Thank you for allowing us to take this trip to see first-hand how companies operate and how individuals become successful. It was nice to not have to worry about coming up with money to pay for the trip.”
Elizabeth Hall, Accounting.


“Thank you for giving us the opportunity to broaden our horizons in career choices. As an accounting major, you sometimes forget there is more out there than jobs in audit and tax, but these trips help remind me there are so many more opportunities within my career field.”
Ragan Goldasich, Accounting.


“Thank you so much for giving me an insight as to what the real world is like. Experiences like these are invaluable.”
Katie Bevis, Finance.


“Thank you very much for the opportunity to travel and listen to speakers. I have never been a part of something like this and I learned a lot from this experience. Trips like this are beneficial to students and it helps them think outside the box of what other careers might be available to them with their degrees.”
Nicole Lopez,  Hospitality, Tourism, & Event Management.


Students also benefit from the Career Closet where they receive free business attire for their use during interviews.

“The closet includes over 800 pieces of professional business attire that is appropriate for interviews and other business functions. Students are able to visit the closet throughout the semester and borrow complete business suits or just the pieces they need to complement their outfit,” said Becker.

Since its creation in 2016, the Career Closet has provided over 1,400 items that have helped over 600 students participate in professional development events such as career fairs, interviews, and professional meetings.

“We dry-clean the suits and we provide everything right down to their shoes. We give them portfolios to put their resumes in so they aren’t just walking in with a single sheet of paper. All of this is donor driven and so we are hoping that our alumni and donors step up and help us out again this year,” said Becker.

Becker and Sargent are hoping to raise funds for the Business Placement Center during the upcoming SIU Day of Giving slated for Wednesday, March 2.

Sargent says that each year, the colleges alumni really step up and lend a helping hand to its students during the SIU Day of Giving.

“We did well last year but we are really hoping to turn the attention to the placement center so we can help more students,” said Sargent.

To learn how you can donate to the SIU College of Business and Analytics, visit on March 2. If you would like to donate earlier, visit and indicate your gift is for the SIU Day of Giving.

SIU Interior Design Students Take Trip to Chicago’s NeoCon Exposition

Last fall, students from SIU’s Art & Design and Interior Design departments traveled to Chicago to attend the annual NeoCon Exposition as part of the SIU Foundation’s Chicago Takeover Tour. Held at the renowned Merchandise Mark Plaza, NeoCon is a major event where the industry’s major manufacturers as well as emerging companies showcase thousands of new products and services in categories including furniture, fabrics, flooring, interior building products, interior finishes and technology.

Laura Morthland, Program Director of Interior Design, said the trip was a resounding success.

“The trip was spearheaded by Mary Carroll, development officer for the SIU Foundation, and she worked collaboratively with alumnus Mark Steftenagel, CEO of Whitney Architects in Chicago as well as the industrial design firm QDesign. Fifteen students and four faculty made the trip and listened to industry leaders and participated in several tours during the multi-day event. We were well pleased with how this trip unfolded for our students,” said Morthland.

Students and faculty kicked off the field trip with a tour of Kimball/National showrooms where they toured Kimball’s showrooms and learned about the latest trends in commercial office spaces and the changing healthcare needs. Students were also honored by a breakfast and tour at Whitney Architects where students were able to chat with several industry leaders, including special guest John Rouse, former editor of Contract Magazine.

On the first night of the St. Louis Takeover Tour, students attended Chancellor Lane’s Chicago Takeover Tour reception at the Palmer House where they listened to Chancellor Lane, President Mahony and alumnus Mark Silverman, co-host of the Waddle and Silvy Show on WMVP, ESPN1000 address the crowd of more than 200 proud Salukis.

While in Chicago, the students enjoyed the Merchandise Mark Plaza in their free time and returned to SIU with a wealth of experiences and knowledge on cutting-edge trends in the industry.

“I want to extend a big thank you to Mark Steftenagel, Byron Morton, John Rouse, Kay Wulf, Whitney Architects and Q Design. This was an unforgettable experience for our students that they will carry forward throughout their lives,” said Morthland.


Brown leaves proud Saluki legacy, looks to next level

Qua Brown

Qua Brown (7) is congratulated by Makel Calhoun during the Salukis’ 22-10 win over South Dakota on Nov. 27. (Photo provided by Saluki Media Services)

By Jeff Wilson

While it didn’t end the way he hoped, Qua Brown made the most of his time as a Saluki.

A senior, who played safety for the Saluki Football team, graduated just weeks after SIU fell to North Dakota State in the FCS playoffs. He leaves SIU with a bachelor’s in sports administration and the goal of playing professional football.

The Deland, Florida, native came to SIU in 2016 on a football scholarship. After a redshirt season, he spent the next five years exceling as a starting safety.

“I had a few scholarship offers, but when I visited SIU, I knew it was the right fit,” Brown said. “The football facilities are top-notch, and the campus wasn’t too big or too small. I was excited to play for Coach (Nick) Hill. He has special connection with his players and is really involved in the community.”

Players are keenly aware of the cost of maintaining a successful program, and Brown emphasized the value of donor support.

“It’s literally everything to us. We’re basically living off every dollar,” he said. “Traveling, equipment, food, hotels – that money can go a long way for us. By giving, donors are making some players’ dreams come true.”

On the field, it’s been money well spent. Brown finished his Saluki career with nearly 300 tackles and has been a major factor in some of the program’s biggest wins. During the team’s first-round playoff victory over South Dakota, Brown had two interceptions. In front of more than 10,000 fans at this year’s Homecoming win against North Dakota, he notched 11 tackles.

“That giant crowd at Homecoming was humbling and inspiring,” he said. “It as a great feeling, especially coming off the COVID-affected season.”

Brown was also impressed by the dozens of former Saluki football players who returned to SIU for the that day’s festivities.

“When I saw one of their national championship rings, I was like ‘Dang, I want one of those,’” Brown said.

Recently, SIU has become known for producing NFL talent, especially at defensive back. Most famously, Jeremy Chinn was drafted in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers and finished second in the NFC Rookie of the Year voting.

“There is NFL talent all over our league (the Missouri Valley Football Conference), and you understand what it takes to come from a smaller school. I look forward to pursuing that opportunity and hope to represent that ongoing tradition,” Brown said.

If you would like to support SIU Athletics, click here.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Saluki Athletics Launches Four-Year Giving Campaign

A four-year, $25 million fundraising campaign will provide necessary funding to support the future of Southern Illinois University Athletics.

Salukis Forever was launched in February by Saluki Athletics and the SIU Foundation. The entities are working together to raise private funds to support the mission of the SIU Athletic Department.

The new effort is part of the ongoing Forever SIU campaign, which the SIU Foundation launched in 2017 and extended in 2019.

Like so many other aspects of daily life, Saluki Athletics was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This campaign gives donors and alumni a chance to reconnect with the programs and student-athletes.

“Whether it’s supporting scholarships, coaching staff, a specific sport or fund, or simply giving to Saluki Athletics in general, every dollar helps,” said SIU Foundation CEO Matt Kupec. “The Saluki spirit is the tie that binds generations of fans and alumni together. This is the opportunity to make a tremendous impact.”

Donors will have the opportunity to support Saluki Athletics in general or a particular program. SIU has 13 individual programs, which bring hundreds of student-athletes to the university.

“Our student-athletes are some of the best students on campus,” Kupec said. “Our teams have produced more than 100 Academic All-Americans and have GPAs that rank among the best in the country.”

The on-the-field success is just as impressive. The Salukis have won eight national championships, dozens of conference titles and featured more than 60 Olympians. From Walt Frazier hoisting the 1967 NIT Championship trophy to hammer throwers DeAnna Price and Gwen Berry representing the U.S. in the Tokyo Olympics, SIU’s history is rich with tradition and success.

“Saluki Athletics is the front door to SIU,” Kupec said. “Our teams spread awareness of our brand, which aids the university when recruiting potential students across the country. When the Salukis win, we all win.”

Beyond giving directly to the Saluki Athletics or a particular sport, donors can support the Saluki Athletic Scholarship Fund, the AD Excellence Fund, the Women’s Initiative Fund, and the Salukis Well-Being Fund.

Learn more at:

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Siblings Support Saluki Family: Brother-sister duo make gift to name Guida-Moller Family Alumni Center

Julie Guida and Scott Moller

When considering the opportunity to make a transformational gift to SIU, the idea of naming the Alumni Center made perfect sense to Julie Guida and Scott Moller, siblings and proud SIU alumni.

With their $500,000 donation, the C-wing of Woody Hall will be named the Guida-Moller Family Alumni Center. The funds will be used to support the SIU Alumni Association, its scholarships, and programs.

“We feel fortunate to give back to the university that gave so much to us,” Moller said. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to commemorate our time at SIU with this naming.”

In 2019, the Alumni Association moved into a newly renovated space in Woody Hall. The center includes amenities that allow the Alumni Association to continue its mission of connecting with alumni and current students and sharing the success of SIU with the world.

“Woody Hall is an iconic building on campus. It is centrally located and once served as a female dormitory,” Guida said. “While we attended, the building housed class registration and the bursar’s office. I definitely spent my fair share of time in Woody Hall.”

Guida and Moller can’t help but laugh when talking about their experience as students inside Woody Hall.

“We both remember the ‘Woody Shuffle,’ which was the term used to describe the rigmarole students were put through to put together a semester class schedule,” Moller said. “The experience was nerve-racking.”


Guida, who graduated in 1979, and Moller, who graduated in 1985, both earned bachelor’s degrees in journalism with specializations in advertising. Moller later returned to SIU to earn his Master of Business Administration.

Both worked at the SIU Arena, in what was an 11,000-seat facility at the time, marketing events and selling tickets to some of the university’s biggest shows. Guida worked as promotions director from 1979-81. Moller worked part-time in the ticket office from 1980-83 and then as promotions director from 1984-86.

“At the time, the arena was the mecca of Southern Illinois entertainment,” Guida said. “Working there was probably just as good an education as my classes. People from throughout the region came to the Carbondale campus to see the most popular entertainers of the time.”

Guida and Moller promoted some of the biggest rock ’n’ roll and country tours of the day, including REO Speedwagon, Elton John, ZZ Top, Kenny Rogers, Foreigner, Hall & Oates, Alabama, Van Halen, Aerosmith, and more. Other entertainment acts included Ringling Bros. Circus, the Harlem Globetrotters, and Sesame Street Live. When you combine their tenures as promotions directors, the duo brought more than 250,000 people to the SIU campus.

Guida recalls Bruce Springsteen’s love for playing to live audiences. In fact, as the night wore on, Springsteen just kept playing and playing one song after another.

“We thought we might have to turn the lights on inside the hall to get him to end his performance,” Guida said with a laugh.

Moller was a Sammy Hagar fan and enjoyed the fact that he promoted him first as a solo performer and then later as a member of Van Halen.

Guida also worked in sales for the Daily Egyptian. Moller worked for Campus Services and held off-campus jobs at the University Mall, WTAO Radio, and WSIL-TV3.

“We worked hard and played hard,” Moller said. “We had multiple jobs and an active social life. Julie and I were definitely all in. I encourage all college students to make the most of their college years.”


After leaving SIU, Guida went on to work at the St. Louis Checker Dome, and then for a motorsports event promoter. Moller worked for a concert and theatrical promoter in Houston.

In 1987, they teamed up and founded Marketing Werks, a consumer-based marketing firm, and grew it into a $100 million-plus company. The firm developed strategy and execution for experiential marketing campaigns for some of the world’s largest brands, including Verizon, Walgreens, Hershey, LEGO, PlayStation, Bridgestone, Archer Daniels Midland, ConAgra, and many others.

“At its height, we employed more than 200 full-time professional service employees at our headquarters in Chicago and offices in New York City and Southern California,” Moller said. “We also contracted with 3,000 field staff to implement programs for the agency’s clients.”

Marketing Werks was regularly recognized in numerous industry and business publications. Crain’s Chicago Business chose it as one of Chicago’s 50 Fastest Growing companies for five years running. Promo magazine and Event Marketer magazine consistently ranked Marketing Werks as the top independent experiential agency in the U.S. The Chicago Tribune included the company several times in its annual list of Best Places to Work.

“We took the information we learned in class, combined it with the real-life work and social experience we had in Carbondale, and applied those learnings to our life and work after SIU,” Guida said. “SIU offers students hands-on experiential learning that has lifelong value.”

They sold the company in late 2013.

Today, Guida splits her time between Newport Beach, California, and Chicago. She is an active board member of Chicago’s Hyde Park Art Center. Moller resides in Chicago. He is a principal of AKA Partners, a marketing communications firm. He also serves on the SIU Foundation Board and SIU Alumni Association Board.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Dunbar Leadership Society Supports Diverse Students, Thoughts

Vintage photo of the Dunbar Leadership Society at SIU.

SIU’s commitment to diversity is represented through the Dunbar Leadership Society.

Named after Paul Laurence Dunbar, a turn-of-the-century poet and novelist, the society was established in 1904 to organize the activities of African American students. It served as the precursor to the university’s Africana Studies program and the Black Affairs Council. Recently, through the SIU Foundation, the Dunbar Leadership Society has been reintroduced.

“I see great potential at SIU. We’re just scratching the surface,” said society chair Kennard Tucker ’91. “Having engaged and involved alumni is crucial.”

Through the Dunbar Leadership Society, Tucker hopes to reinvigorate SIU’s diverse alumni and create opportunities for current and future Salukis. It’s his plan to raise scholarship funds and host events that resonate with members of a multicultural campus.

“As Black alumni, we want to create a society that is synonymous with the SIU we knew and loved and share that experience with the next generation of leaders,” he said. “There are important conversations happening around the country right now, and campus is a microcosm of what’s happening nationally. We hope to provide the construct so that dialogue can exist and thrive.”

While there are mechanisms in place at the state and federal level to help low-income and minority students, the Dunbar Leadership Society seeks to fill some of the gaps.

“It’s important for students to have support services and social opportunities. There needs to be that balance,” said society board member Dr. Carl Flowers ’75, MS ’85, Ph.D. ’93. “The Dunbar Leadership Society can lead to more access for student who fall in the middle.”

Beginning a college career can be a difficult time for any student, but that can be especially true for students who feel like they don’t belong.

“SIU has been good to my family, but when I started, I was the only Black student in many of my classes,” said society board member Dr. Linda Flowers ’78, MS ’88, Ph.D. ’06. “It’s important for students to see people who look like themselves.”

Having a diverse campus goes beyond the vital step of ensuring equality for Black students, it provides a richer, more fulfilling experience for every member of the campus community.

“Diversity is important for students of all races and ethnicities,” said society board member Susan Smith Ross ’79. “For many, college is the first time you’re included with people who aren’t like you. A diverse campus is an opportunity for all students to gain respect and knowledge of others.”

With the assistance of the SIU Foundation, the Dunbar Leadership Society hopes to raise enough money to endow scholarships, host speaker series, and support diversity initiative. Gifts of any size are welcome and can be made at

“We want to galvanize the alumni base and create a source of pride for all alumni,” Tucker said. “The program was created to promote and encourage African American philanthropic giving at the leadership level of $1,000 or greater. Our plan is to support significant scholarship funds and implement important programming. The opportunities are nearly unlimited.”

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Celebrating a life well lived: Scholarship honors lifelong business professor

Marvin Tucker

High school sweethearts Patricia and Marvin Tucker from Paducah, Kentucky, enjoyed a life well lived. Married young, the couple attended Western Kentucky State University together, where they both received bachelor’s degrees. Following that, they moved to Indiana where Marvin earned his master’s in accountancy. Upon graduation, he was awarded a scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in accounting at the University of Alabama.

“Legendary football coach Bear Bryant and (quarterback) Joe Namath were making history at Alabama,” Patricia said. “Marvin and I got $1 tickets to every game, and we got to watch two iconic figures change college football forever. It was a magical time.”

Marvin received his Ph.D. in accounting in 1966 and was courted by several universities. He chose SIU because of its midwestern values and proximity to hometown Paducah.

Marvin began his career as an assistant professor but quickly rose through the ranks to become full professor. During that time, he helped establish, and later directed, the university’s Master of Accountancy program.

“Marvin loved SIU, loved his students, and he loved that program. He was one of the few professors who had extended office hours – his door was always open to students. The students loved Marvin,” Patricia said. “His goal was always to try to change the life of a student who may not have had the ability to do it on his or her own.”

Marvin had numerous scholarly publications, and he co-authored three books. He was a member of the National Association of University Professors, the American Management Association, the Illinois Retired Teacher Association, and the American Accounting Association.

The Tuckers embraced the Carbondale community. Marvin coached Little League while their three sons were growing up. Marvin also loved his church and church family, serving as deacon and greeter at University Baptist Church. He was also active in the hospital auxiliary. The family thrived in their neighborhood, enjoyed the schools in Carbondale, had season tickets to Saluki football games, and often went to the Rec Center to swim and rock climb.

When Marvin retired from SIU after 32 years, he and Patricia drafted their will.

“We gave a copy to the dean of the SIU College of Business at the time. In the will, Marvin stipulated that if he predeceased me, I would set up a scholarship for the SIU Master of Accountancy program. He wanted the decision of choosing the scholarship recipient to come from the faculty so they would know the students and their backgrounds,” Patricia said. “It was quite a bit of money, but while I was Marvin’s first love, SIU was definitely his second love. We both felt good about our decision to give back and help future students succeed. We lived a blessed life, and I thank God for it every single day.”

Terry Clark, dean of the College of Business and Analytics, shared his appreciation for the Tuckers’ generosity.

“The Tuckers’ gift to the College of Business and Analytics is visionary. Its impact on the lives and careers of students will resound for generations. Marvin had an outstanding career with our college,” he said. “His kindness and dedication linger with us. We are so grateful for Marvin and Patricia’s generosity. Through this scholarship, he and Patricia continue to reflect the spirit of giving that has been their legacy.”

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

New Name, More Hope: Major gift to School of Medicine will transform Alzheimer’s care, research

Erin R. Hascup, Ph.D., (center) who serves as the center’s director and as a part of the faculty in the Neuroscience Institute at SIU School of Medicine, is surrounded by her colleagues.

“As longtime Springfield residents, we’re proud of the impact the School of Medicine has had on the community,” Dale Smith said.

That impact prompted Dale and his wife, Deborah, to donate a substantial financial gift to the Alzheimer’s Center at SIU to expand research, enhance programming and improve care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and assist their caregivers.

“The efforts of the Alzheimer’s center inspired us to give and hopefully create a consciousness within the community around the breadth of research and patient care we have here,” Dale Smith said. “Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, and we hope our gift can help researchers at SIU Medicine produce better clinical outcomes that improve our community, one family at a time.”

The center is now named the Dale and Deborah Smith Center for Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment at SIU Medicine. This gift will transform the health care of people throughout Illinois and beyond.

The center provides clinical care, research and community programs throughout 93 Illinois counties. Since 1986, its employees have diagnosed, treated and educated Illinoisans with Alzheimer’s and similar conditions and their families. In the past year, the center, along with its Memory and Aging Network, has served more than 4,000 patients and their families. The National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health has awarded more than $7.2 million in grants to the center for Alzheimer’s-related research in the past three years.

“This gift from Dale and Deborah Smith will continue to propel research at SIU that may translate into novel treatments and interventions for patients in the future,” said Jerry Kruse, M.D., MSPH, dean and provost at SIU School of Medicine. “It will also provide much needed clinical, educational and community support for those with Alzheimer’s and their families.”

Despite decades of pharmaceutical development and drug testing, Alzheimer’s disease continues to be incurable, and prevention may hold the greatest hope for combating this disease. The research team is focused on discovering ways to stop the progression. In addition to a better quality of life, early and accurate diagnosis and timely intervention could save up to $7.9 trillion in medical and health care costs, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Erin R. Hascup, Ph.D., serves as the center’s director and as a part of the faculty in the Neuroscience Institute at SIU School of Medicine. She is an associate professor in the Departments of Neurology and Pharmacology.

“What we want to do is understand the changes that are occurring across disease progression, including in the very early stages,” she said. “Many have Alzheimer’s for up to 30 years prior to cognitive decline, so we want to intervene earlier to slow or stop disease progression and improve patient outcomes and quality of life.”

The center’s Beyond the Medical Center program also focuses on creative ways to improve the quality of life for both patients and caregivers through art therapy, music therapy and movement for individuals with dementia.

Springfield-area caregiver Janet Scott and her husband are two of the more than 4,800 patients and caregivers who have participated in one of these programs in the last two years.

“I cannot imagine what my life would be like had we not come here,” she said. “SIU has meant everything to me. They’ve been like my third arm; I’ve depended on them for so much.”

Currently, 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. By 2050, this number is projected to rise to nearly 14 million. Illinois communities will continue to be impacted by various forms of dementia as the population ages, and the Smiths are eager to be a part of the solution locally and beyond.

Gifts received by the SIU Foundation support the growth of the School of Medicine, including its medical research efforts.

For those interested in donating, visit

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Saluki Spotlight – Q & A with Dr. John J Cooper

Dr. John Cooper, he is an SIU alumni from the IMAE (IT) programDr. John J Cooper, a three-degree alumnus of SIU Carbondale, is now a professor and recruiter for the university’s Industrial Management and Applied Engineering (IMAE) program.

He received degrees in Industrial Technology (now IMAE) in 2004; Manufacturing Systems (now Quality Engineering and Management or QEM) in 2006; and Workforce Education and Development in 2011.

As both a professor and an alumnus of SIU, Dr. Cooper’s perspective is a unique one. So, we sat down with him to get his views on everything from SIU, to Extended Campus, and the importance of philanthropy.

Question: What did you like most about the SIU IMAE (and beyond) programs when you attended? 

Answer: To say my experience at SIU was life altering is no exaggeration. There were so many opportunities for growth as an individual that I found I learned as much, if not more, from my SIU experiences outside my classes as I did from the many subjects I studied. I had an opportunity to teach numerous classes and labs as a Teaching Assistant, serve as a manufacturing lab consultant for an award-winning SIU Robotics Team, present my research at a national conference, and so much more. None of these things would have been possible though without the support and guidance of the wonderful IMAE faculty and staff.

Q: What do you like most about your job, especially at your location?

A: My office is located at Daley College in Chicago. This area, Cook County, has the most manufacturing jobs of any county in Illinois and I see so much opportunity for those seeking direction as to career path possibilities. I really enjoy raising awareness of what is available academically and by extension, showing students the pathway to these life-changing opportunities in this well-paying field. Giving hope and a sense of direction to those trying to find their way, whether they are new to the world of work, seeking advancement opportunities in their current career field, or mid-life career changers like myself, is exciting stuff. To see someone’s eyes light up with a renewed spirit and sense of relief after struggling to find their way and have them come back after graduation and say I got a great job because of SIU, “Thank you!” is intoxicating. This is much so much more than just a job. We are changing people’s lives.

Q: What’s it like to interact with students all over the country to help them achieve their goals?

A: I have found that no matter where a student may be located geographically, there is a universal truth they all have in common. They want to get away from working two or three jobs with no benefits just to get by. They want a career with advancement opportunities, a living wage that provides them a healthy work/life balance, doing work they are proud of, and they aren’t afraid of the commitment and hard work needed to make these things happen. Having been in their shoes for many years, I feel privileged to now be part of a team in a position to support and nurture their dreams to fruition.

Q: What does being a Saluki mean to you?

A: When I reflect on my life, I remember growing up with a belief in two commonly accepted facts, education and hard work are the keys to success. I had attained a certain level of success before I came to SIU, but had hit a ceiling on my assent up the career ladder because my associate degrees from the local community colleges only took me so far. I had lots of ambition but no access to a bachelor’s in my rural location, so I spent many frustrating years locked in a dead end job with no potential for advancement. When my life circumstances unexpectedly changed and I was able to attend SIU and earn my bachelor’s degree, it was like the opportunities I had longed for previously, and so much more, were now within my grasp. When recruiting I say, “I am the poor kid who never thought I could go to college and now I am a university professor. SIU has definitely changed my life! Thank you, SIU!” Yes, it’s great to be a Saluki!

Q: Would you ever recommend any SIU Extended Campus, online or on-campus programs to another person?

A: Absolutely! Of course I know the high caliber of instructors in the IMAE and QEM programs and what those programs have done for me personally, so I recommend them without hesitation. Even though I don’t know all the instructors from the other Extended Campus programs, I do know that since SIU is an accredited institution, all instructors for our programs are highly-qualified so I am confident in the quality of those programs as well. But to take it a step further, as a recruiter for many years, I have had the opportunity to compare tuition rates with other universities and have found no other school more affordable than SIU. Plus, SIU has over 700 scholarship opportunities that make earning an advanced degree from SIU more affordable than ever. SIU is a great school, and we have thousands of graduates worldwide who couldn’t agree more!

Q: Would you recommend that others donate to SIU?

A: I would definitely recommend anyone seeking a worthy cause to donate to SIU. Growing up in a low-income home, I didn’t know there was money available for poor kids like me. Without the financial assistance I received, my life could have gone very differently. Your donation can make a huge difference in someone’s life. I know firsthand what a difference these donations can make.

Q: Would you ever consider giving back to SIU Extended Campus programs? If so, why?

A: Yes, I would. I believe there is a need for more outreach to underserved areas. Although I had heard of the IMAE program, I had no access to it because I lived in such a rural area. I would have enrolled in the program 15 years earlier than I did if local access had been available. The list of available online programs through Extended Campus continues to grow to reach those underserved areas, but more needs to be done.

Q: If you had $1,000 dollars to give to SIU, where would you decide it should go?

A: Without a doubt, I would give it to the IMAE program in the form of scholarship money for low income students. Not only does this degree open career opportunities to well-paying jobs, but there is so much need from low-income students like I was who just need a hand up.

To learn how you can donate to SIU Extended Campus, click here.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Hamilton County graduate receives Don and Edith Braden Scholarship

Brandon Peters, a freshman in aviation management, received the Don and Edith Braden Scholarship.

Brandon Peters, a freshman in aviation management, received the Don and Edith Braden Scholarship.

By Rebecca Renshaw

Brandon Peters, SIU freshman and recipient of the Don and Edith Braden scholarship award, graduated from Hamilton County High School in 2020 and is pursuing a degree in aviation management from SIU.

“I was accepted into other universities, such as Purdue and Western Michigan, but SIU just fit me better,” he said. “Plus, it is closer to my family. I also chose SIU because its aviation program is also one of the top programs in the nation.”

Peters recently spoke to his scholarship donor via a conference call and thanked him for the scholarship.

“It costs quite a bit to go to the aviation program, and I told Mr. Braden how thankful I was for his help. So many students here have significant financial debt, and I wanted him to know that with his help. I will graduate with minimal debt,” he said. “I am thankful for people like Mr. Braden who lend a helping hand to students like me.”

Peters also comes from Braden’s parents’ hometown.

“I played as a point guard for Hamilton County High School’s basketball team for all four years. I was fortunate enough to win the Jerry Sloan Award last year, and Mr. Braden actually knew Jerry Sloan (Hall of Fame NBA coach), so we had that shared connection,” he said.

Peters hopes to become a certified flight instructor and someday teach at SIU. Once he accumulates enough hours, he plans to become a commercial airline pilot.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.