Scholarships set the stage: Students display work ethic, dedication during production of ‘Punk Rock’

SIU Theater Department

By Jeff Wilson

The students in the Christian H. Moe Laboratory Theater are hard at work.

Sets are being built and painted, lines are being rehearsed, choreography is being perfected, and there’s always something more to be done.

“It’s a labor of love,” said senior Patrick Burke, stage production manager of the upcoming presentation of “Punk Rock.”

Scholarships at work

The play focuses on a group of teens in England as they deal with the pressures of their final year of high school. It will feature an all-student cast; all of the production has been completed by students; and even some of the funding has come out of the pockets of students.

“We’ve received donations from family, the community and set up a GoFundMe page,” said senior Kyle Aschbrenner, the play’s director. “Some of us have even used scholarship money. We’ve raised between $1,100 and $1,200.”

A recipient of the 2018 Verizon Scholarship and Department of Theater Undergraduate Scholarship, Aschbrenner said he and his fellow students are passionate about their work.

“In this department, we’re given a sense of autonomy,” he said. “Scholarships are especially helpful in accomplishing something like this.”

Christian Boswell, a senior who will portray one of the main characters in the play, is also the fight choreographer. The training he’s received while at SIU is a direct result of his DOT Undergraduate Scholarship

“That’s been what has allowed me to attend workshops all across the country and work with groups like the Society of American Fight Directors,” he said.

Burke, who transferred to SIU after earning an associate degree at Rend Lake College, is a recipient of the Ronald Naversen Scholarship for Theater Design and Production. Naversen is an emeritus professor of theater and still an active part of SIU’s program.

“I could talk about Ron for 30 minutes,” Burke said. “Receiving that scholarship was a validation of my ability.”

Years in the making

The play was chosen by many of the students during their freshman year. They decided to make “Punk Rock” their senior project, with the hope of starting a new tradition at SIU.

“Being right out of high school, the play definitely spoke to us,” Aschbrenner said. “Now, the themes of the play speak to us more introspectively. It’s still very relevant to us today.”

About 25 undergraduate students have been involved in the process. Even though only a handful are featured on stage, many more are working behind the scenes.

The planning started in February. The physical production work started in early October. Many students have spent long days – and nights – working on the show.

The students are working on much more than acting. They create the sets and secure props and costumes. Behind the scenes, there is woodworking, painting, welding and other disciplines at work.

“There are a lot of aspects to it,” Burke said. “We’re prepping all the spaces and doing all the work. There’s a very fine attention to detail in this production.”

See the show

The three performances of “Punk Rock” will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, and Saturday, Nov. 10, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, in the Christian H. Moe Laboratory Theater.

Tickets are available online at events.siu.edu, by calling 877-SALUKIS (877-725-8547) or in person at the SIU Arena or McLeod Theater box offices between noon and 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Individual tickets are $18 for adults and $6 for students.

Third-generation Saluki receives talent scholarship

Leah Sutton - SIU scholarship recipient

Leah Sutton, a freshman in Art History is a third-generation Saluki from Highland, Illinois. Sutton received the SIUC Talent Scholarship, which is awarded to an incoming student, on a basis of portfolio review.

Sutton shared her excitement when she received the award letter this summer while home with her family. “I saw the letter, ripped it open, and then started yelling to my parents, ‘Guess what I just got in the mail!?”

Sutton says the scholarship really helped with the art supplies she needs for her major. “There are lots of expenses like pens, calligraphy tools, canvases, and paint. There are so many extra materials that are needed to pursue an art degree,” she said. Sutton has set her sights on a degree in Art and Photography. “My dream job would be to become a photojournalist for National Geographic,” she said

Sutton is thankful for the scholarship as it will provide more money for her family to save up for her younger brother to also enroll at SIU. “My little brother is a freshman in high school and he is an avid fisherman. He already knows what he wants to be, which is to get an engineering degree so he can design fishing equipment,” she said.

Sutton is thankful for the scholarship and hopes more donors will give so that students like her can get a quality education.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Otilia Santiago

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Otilia Santiago

Otilia Santiago is a sophomore from Chicago studying Pre-Veterinary Medicine and Science. She is a Harold and Nora Kuehn Animal Science Scholarship, SIU Dean’s Scholarship, and Kloth Scholarship recipient.

Why did you choose SIU?
SIU has a pre-veterinary program and a wonderful campus.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
I love the idea of being able to work with animals, while also expanding my knowledge about them.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
When i first walked on campus and went through Thompson’s Woods. I saw two falcons. I had never seen these type of birds in the wild before and they we perched on a branch very close to the path on the tour.

What do you brag about most when you tell your friends about SIU?
I brag that SIU is a beautiful university, with a great College of Agricultural Sciences and a wonderful campus.

Could you tell us about the impact of the scholarship on your education at SIU and your life in general?
It made paying for college a lot easier. I am to focus in class instead of thinking about money.

Why should people consider donating to SIU?
Donating to SIU helps students achieve their goals when they otherwise may not be able to.

If you had $1,000 to donate to SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit? Why?
I would like to see $1,000 benefit to the university farms, so more students could get hands-on experience working with animals.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Impact of scholarships featured at annual luncheon

In February, a group of donors and students gathered for the 2018 SIU Academic Scholarship Lunch. Dozens of scholarship recipients were given the chance to meet and thank the very people who made their scholarships possible.

“It’s amazing to see people who were able to be successful come back and give to people and help them be successful, as well,” said scholarship recipient Jacob Trammel. “I can’t express how thankful I am.”

Dr. Marsha Ryan, a member of the SIU Board of Trustees and scholarship sponsor, addressed the crowd during the annual event.

“What truly matters in our communities and at this university are the people we make of ourselves and the people we assist in the making of themselves,” she said. “The nice thing about SIU is that it’s a wonderful place to do both.”

Scholarship recipients Abbie Spiwak and Saikrishna Balasubramanian spoke about the significance of financial assistance and how they hope to make a long-term impact.
“The thing I’ve had in my mind since starting school and wanting to be a dietitian is to help other people,” Spiwak said.

“What this scholarship has enabled me to do is really achieve my dreams, and I hope to give back to other students someday,” Balasubramanian said.

Forever SIU campaign co-chair Dan Korte said students need support because they are the future.

“These young people are going to change the world and help propel the future that we depend on,” he said.

To make a gift, visit www.siuf.org/giving.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Corey Albrecht

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Corey Albrecht

Corey Albrecht is a senior from Algonquin, Illinois, studying civil engineering. He is a recipient of the SIU Dean’s Scholarship, SIU College of Engineering Scholarship and Waldemar J. Klasing Foundation Scholarship.

Why did you choose SIU?
I chose SIU because of the quality of the College of Engineering, the beautiful campus and region, the low cost of tuition, the scholarship opportunities, the proximity and ease of transportation to the Chicago suburbs and the dedication that students appeared to have on campus visits.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
I had always been good at math and science classes in high school, and I always had an interest in the structure of buildings and bridges.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
My most memorable experience at SIU was probably the scholarship luncheon this year. It was inspiring to see so many generous donors, hardworking students, SIU faculty and administration coming together to celebrate the successes of the university. It was basically all of the great components of SIU coming together to meet each other for a great meal and presentation. I really enjoyed the interaction with donors.

What do you brag about most when you tell your friends about SIU?
I mostly brag about how beautiful the campus and region is, the weather here compared to northern Illinois, the outstanding professors in our civil engineering program and our sports teams when they are doing well.

Could you tell us about the impact of the scholarship on your education at SIU and your life in general?
Scholarships have relieved a significant amount of financial stress from my life. This has allowed me to focus more on my courses and RSOs, and it has motivated me to perform better in my courses. It has also impacted my family and relieved financial stress from them, which is very important to me.

Why should people consider donating to SIU?
Donors, in my opinion, are probably the most important contributors to the health and strength of SIU. Scholarships assist in growing enrollment, give opportunities to students who would not be able to afford college and are role models for SIU students. Seeing individuals and couples who graduated from SIU and became successful motivates me and other students that one day we can accomplish the same level of success. Donors are role models to students and allows students to accomplish more with their help. This results in better students graduating from SIU and a higher quality alumni base.

If you had $1,000 to donate to SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit? Why?
I would like to see that money benefit the RSOs in engineering. From working with and being a part of Steel Bridge Team and ASCE, and seeing students in Baja and Robotics, Engineering RSOs consist of some of the brightest, most dedicated and hard-working students at this university. Engineering RSOs are essential for students obtaining hands-on experience in their field.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Scholarship, atmosphere enhance student’s Saluki experience

SIU Scholarship Recipient Nyah Addison

It didn’t take long for Nyah Addison to feel a deep connection to SIU.

“The main reason I came to SIU was the community,” she said. “My mom’s best friend went to SIU. The alumni are wonderful. It’s a family-type of feeling.”

A business student from Chicago, Nyah received the University Excellence Scholarship. It is available to academically high-achieving high school students who have demonstrated leadership skills.

The financial assistance played an integral role in her decision to attend SIU and decreased the stress that comes with making such an important life decision.

“The scholarship was the tip over the edge for me coming here,” she said. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t put too much on myself as far as loans are concerned. Without the scholarship, I probably wouldn’t be here.”

Before learning about the scholarship, Nyah considered attending a community college, but she’s thankful for the opportunity to be on a university campus and enjoy all the benefits it provides.

“Community college is OK, but this is a completely different atmosphere here,” she said. “I’m actually able to be on campus, be around the alumni and my peers. The scholarship was a big help to me, and I know it’s a big help for others.”

While scholarships can help attract prospective students to the university, Nyah said it’s the Saluki experience that makes the time here special.

“The community is great,” she said. “Everybody is really helpful, really nice. My overall experience has been great. I really enjoy that community feeling.”

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Esmeralda Valerio

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Esmeralda Valerio

Esmeralda Valerio is a junior from Chicago studying social work. She is a Harvey and Trish Welch Scholarship recipient.

Why did you choose SIU?
I chose SIU because it felt like home. I felt I could make some sort of impact on this campus and I am glad I have. I’m making my impact by working with New Student Programs.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
Having to work with other social workers growing up.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
Being part of the New Student Orientation as a team lead.

What do you brag about most when you tell your friends about SIU?
I brag about how proud I am to be a leader on campus through our New Student Programs office.

Could you tell us about the impact of the scholarship on your education at SIU and your life in general?
This scholarship helped me have peace of mind to not worry about my current financial struggles. The $1000 I received really did make a huge difference.

Why should people consider donating to SIU?
Because our students have heart, they are passionate for their institution and what SIU does to impact its students.

If you had $1,000 to donate to SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit? Why?
I would use it to create a scholarship for first generation Latinx students who struggle with physical or mental disabilities.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Abbie Spiwak

Abbie Spiwak (left) is pictured with her scholarship donor, Judith Rossiter (right).

Abbie Spiwak (left) is pictured with her scholarship donor, Judith Rossiter (right).

Abbie Spiwak is a sophomore from Crystal Lake, Illinois, studying human nutrition and dietetics. She is a James M. Rossiter Memorial Scholarship recipient.

Why did you choose SIU?
I chose SIU because of the kind and caring students and faculty, the campus, the surrounding areas, and much more. Everyone is always involved and wants to do something to help others, or to help the community. Professors are willing to give you their time and effort to help you succeed. SIU helps make well-rounded and highly-educated students.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
I have always been interested in health and helping others. This field of study gives me a wide range of opportunities in the health field. Americans are in great need of health and food specialists, and the need is only growing. I like making a difference in others’ lives. Also, I enjoy learning about the foods we eat, our bodies, and the systems food takes to get to us.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
I have had many memorable experiences at SIU. I got to go on a trip with other Chancellor’s students to St. Louis to see a symphony, and visit the Blue’s museum. It was a great learning experience and a time to bond with others.

What do you brag about most when you tell your friends about SIU?
I love to brag about the Shawnee National Forest and all the amazing nature on and off campus. I love having access to water sports, hikes, bike rides, rock climbing, and more.

Could you tell us about the impact of the scholarship on your education at SIU and your life in general?
Scholarships have helped me to succeed in school without having the stress and worries involved with paying off loans or having to work full-time with studying. I know that this takes a burden off not just me, but my family as well. I have been able to devote my time to my studies, so that I can succeed in my future career. I am able to save money now that can be used towards my future and other expenses.

Why should people consider donating to SIU?
People should consider donating their money to SIU because it will always go towards good students who will benefit greatly, and whose lives will be changed for the better because of the money donated. You would be helping students to achieve their dreams and receive the best education they can. You can change someone’s future by donating to SIU.

If you had $1,000 to donate to SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit? Why?
I would like my money to help a student at SIU studying nutrition and dietetics who is doing well in his or her classes and who would greatly benefit from the extra money, whether it be paying for tuition or other school related expenses. I would want it to go to a student studying in the health field, specifically nutrition/dietetics. $1,000 would help a student in many ways. I want to know it is going to someone who will use the money to help them succeed in school and in their career.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Simon Villegas

2018 Academic Scholarship Donor Luncheon

Simon Villegas is pictured with his scholarship donor, Debra Sarvela (left), and her daughter, Kristin Sarvela (right).

Simon Villegas is a sophomore from Morton Grove, Illinois, studying aviation technologies. He is a University Excellence Scholarship, David Rich Memorial Scholarship, and Jeremiah Eugene Price Aviation Technologies Scholarship recipient.

Why did you choose SIU?
I chose SIU because the aviation program is one of the best in the nation. Also, Carbondale is located in an area where there are a lot of activities.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
My interest in planes is what inspired me to study aviation technologies. The whole aviation industry amazes me.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
It was my first day of class when I was arriving on the bus to the airport and seeing the airport for the first time. My most memorable experience was when I saw the planes flying and the facilities and hangar with all the aircraft. I still remember the excitement and how good I felt about studying in this place.

What do you brag about most when you tell your friends about SIU?
Since I am in aviation technologies, I brag about all the planes we have, about my classes being hands-on and about the facility and airport we have where I go to class every day.

Could you tell us about the impact of the scholarship on your education at SIU and your life in general?
Being an immigrant who has been in the United states for five years, and the first to go to college here, my family can’t afford to pay for my education. I also have another brother who just started college too, and a sister in high school, so it is a lot of money for my family. Thanks to these scholarships, I am able to stay in school and pay for my tuition and living costs without my parents having to worry about it.

Why should people consider donating to SIU?
Because there are a lot of talented students who struggle to pay the cost of education, and all these scholarships and money invested on students makes a huge impact on their education, like it did on me.

If you had $1,000 to donate to SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit? Why?
I would like to see a student benefit from it, because I see the difference it made this year on my finances.

About the scholarship:
Mrs. Debra A. Sarvela wanted to establish a fund to provide financial support to students enrolled in the Aviation Technologies Program, in memory of her father, J. Eugene Price. Mr. Price established a career as an electrical engineer, specializing in flight simulation. His career began when Mr. Price was serving in the U.S. Army and continued for 40 years until his retirement from Hughes Aircraft.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Chelesea Lewellen

Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Chelsea Lewellen

Chelesea Lewellen is a Ph.D. student from Chicago studying education. She is a Marita A. Weaver Scholarship and Wayne S. Ramp Vocational Education Endowed Scholarship recipient.

Why did you choose SIU?
SIU has the benefit of close proximity to major metropolitan areas (Chicago and St. Louis) with a distinctive small-town feel. I appreciate the history SIU has to offer of being both an educational institution with a significant diverse student body alongside a feel-good approach to school-life balance. As a former SIU student, I enjoyed the far-reaching spirit of being a Saluki and encountered alumni both locally and nationally during my travels. SIU encourages the potential and challenges you to rethink authority, information, personal beliefs and trends. This institution inspires individual pontificate and creates thinkers. I returned to SIU to further embrace that spirit of education and atmosphere of positive change.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
I chose to pursue a degree in education because education is the cornerstone of life. Whether one is seeking personal enhancement or professional development, education is the key component needed to realize one’s goal. Education is not terminal but a journey wherein the student acquires new knowledge, discards long-held assumptions and/or improves upon their knowledge base. Education is not terminal and continues long after a degree is earned or retirement reached. I find it thrilling to participate in such a vibrant area of study and continue my own never-ending path of knowledge and hope to inspire others to continue in an unending pursuit of knowledge.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
My most memorable experience at SIU occurred during my return to pursue my current degree. During graduate student orientation, Dr. Lee, then dean of the Graduate School, told us about the awesome responsibility and the exciting future graduate school held for each of us. His passion was not only evident, it was also infectious. I walked away from that orientation with an increased sense of the support that was available to me and eager to start my program of study. Each and every time I encountered Dean Lee, I felt a renewed sense of motivation. His warmth and sincerity is sorely missed.

Could you tell us about the impact of the scholarship on your education at SIU and your life in general?
Both scholarships are extremely generous and helped to offset the cost of pursuing my degree. As a graduate student, books, supplies and the cost of living is exceptional. The addition of these two scholarships reduced the out-of-pocket financial contribution and allowed me to refocus my finances and time towards other areas. I was able to relax and study without the distraction of an upcoming bursar payment. It helped both with my time and peace of mind; I am immensely grateful.

Why should people consider donating to SIU?
People should consider donating to SIU to contribute to the continued efforts to educate our society and help financially challenged students pursue their degrees. Financial burdens prevent far too many from pursuing advanced degrees. Additionally, the confidence boost a recipient feels is tangible. Donations are the gift that keeps on giving, and an investment in another person who otherwise may not be able to pursue a long-held dream of higher education.

If you had $1,000 to donate to SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit? Why?
If I had $1,000 to contribute to SIU, I would like to see the money awarded to an underserved and deserving student. Oftentimes, money is the one determining factor that prevents students from seeking advanced degrees. Investing in a student could ease the burden of fiscal concern and enable the distraction of making ends meet to be directed toward self-improvement. Small investments have the benefit of a huge return and the result is often invaluable.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.