Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Randall Grider

Randall Grider, Bertrand Scholarship recipient at SIU

Randall Grider is a senior from Johnston City, Illinois, studying sociology.

Why did you choose SIU?
I chose SIU because I had firsthand experience with the campus environment while growing up in the area. I really enjoyed the feel of the campus, not too small and not too big, which is something I didn’t find at any of the other universities I visited.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
I really enjoy studying the social world and trying to understand our current social problems. Studying sociology has definitely been the right major for doing this.

What was your reaction when you received the Bertrand scholarship?
I was extremely grateful. Going to school full time while also working can be very stressful, so receiving this scholarship lifted some of that burden.

Do you have a message that you would like to share with Mr. and Mrs. Bertrand?
I would just like to thank them for their generosity. Not everyone is as kind or generous as the Bertrands are, and this truly makes a difference in so many students’ lives.

Why should donors consider establishing a scholarship fund for students?
Donors can truly impact so many people’s lives by establishing a scholarship fund.  From the student’s perspective, receiving a scholarship is so helpful.

Has receiving this scholarship inspired you to give back to SIU in the future?
I have worked with the Johnston City Music Alumni Association in giving scholarships to local high school seniors each year, who mostly go to SIU.  But I would definitely like to set up a larger scholarship fund in the future if I am able to.


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Kyleigh Decker awarded the Virginia Gordon Scholarship

Kyleigh Decker, SIU Softball

By Drew Novara

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Kyleigh Decker, a junior from Casey, Ill. and member of the Saluki Softball team, received the Virginia Gordon Scholarship for the 2018-19 academic school year. Decker is studying to become a physician’s assistant.

“When you talk about Kyleigh, she really embodies what student-athlete means,” said head softball coach Kerri Blaylock. “She’s one of the best athletes we have and in the classroom she’s working hard to pursue her dream of becoming a physician’s assistant. She’s just phenomenal.”

“When I signed my National Letter of Intent (NLI) to come to SIU, I knew that I would have to start focusing on a future beyond athletics,” said Decker. “That’s when I found a love for medicine.”

Her hard work in the classroom has paid off as she has been recognized for her academic achievements in each of her first two years at SIU. She is a two-time National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Scholar-Athlete, was named to the MVC’s Academic Honor Roll and is an MVC Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award recipient.

Decker has excelled on the softball field as well. As a freshman, she hit a two-run home run in her first plate appearance and went on to start 17 games for the Salukis. As a sophomore, Decker started in all 53 games. She hit .273 with seven doubles, two triples and seven home runs to go along with her 23 RBIs. She finished second on the team in runs scored (33) and third in home runs (7).

Said Blaylock, “she’s one of the most mature and driven players I’ve ever coached.”

“The Virginia Gordon Scholarship isn’t just an award to me,” said Decker. “It’s an opportunity to open new doors and to become the person I’ve dreamed of being!”

Ameren Corporation Frankie Muse Freeman Trailblazer Scholarship

By Rebecca Renshaw

Longtime civil rights leader, lawyer and activist Frankie Muse Freeman passed away earlier this year at the age of 101.

Freeman, whom some would later call “Frankie Freedom” became a civil rights attorney who fought to end segregated housing and promoted equalrights in St. Louis and nationwide during the civil rights movement.

Upon her passing, Ameren Corporation established the Ameren Corporation Frankie Muse Freeman Trailblazer Scholarship. In October 2018, Ameren contributed $5,000 to the SIU School of Law. This will be the first of four payments of $5,000.

The scholarship specifications stipulate that the award be given to a full-time third-year law student in good academic standing, with specific preference given to a student who identifies as a female from an under-represented community with a demonstrated commitment to diversity and social justice.

The first recipient of this award is SIU law school student Adaku Oti. Oti is a third-year SIU law school student from Toronto who is deeply committed to humanitarian efforts. She was nine-years-old when she created a foundation in support of orphanages along the coast of West Africa. The foundation’s most recent donation has gone to the Children’s Home for the Deaf and those with Mental Disabilities in Accra, Ghana in January 2018 in hopes to advance the quality of life for the children and young adults that residethere.

“Receiving a scholarship from a company such as Ameren encourages me tremendously,” said Oti. “I am humbled they thought enough of my humanitarian efforts to help. Receiving this from Ameren makes me realize that everyone can contribute something small and it just might end up becoming something bigger.”

“We are very proud of the work of Adaku Oti, whose passion for helping those less fortunate embodies the founding mission of the SIU School of Law, which was “created in the public interest to serve the public good,” said Cindy Buys, interim dean for the SIU School of Law.  “We also are grateful to Ameren Corporationfor their support of our law students. These types of scholarships facilitateour students’ success in law school and beyond,” Buys said.

To learn more about how you can give to the SIU School of Law, visit learn more about the Forever SIU campaign, visit

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Scholarships bridge the gap: MEDPREP students receive, prepare to give back

SIU MedPrep Students

By Jeff Wilson

For many, a career in the upper levels of health care can seem out of reach. Finding the time and money it takes to earn the necessary education is a daunting obstacle for most.

In 1972, the SIU School of Medicine established the Medical/Dental Education Preparatory Program, better known as MEDPREP. The program provides assistance to educationally and/or economically disadvantaged students, and it has helped more than 1,000 students matriculate into medical or dental school.

Even with the MEDPREP option, students face an uphill battle when it comes to paying tuition and bills, while juggling classes, work and a personal life. It’s in this area that scholarships fill the void.

A lasting legacy

A longtime biology instructor for MEDPREP, Shirley McGlinn passed away in late 2012. After her death, the Shirley J. McGlinn Memorial Scholarship Fund was established to benefit MEDPREP students. To honor Shirley’s contributions, MEDPREP is holding a special fundraising drive this year to endow the scholarship to ensure student support for years to come.

McGlinn was well-known for her support of students. She believed in mentorship and providing financial support. Along with fellow MEDPREP faculty members, she authored several editions of “Meeting the Challenge of the MCAT,” which helps prepare students for the test.

The scholarship is one of only a handful that support MEDPREP students, and like all scholarships, further support is always welcome. [A gift of any size to the Shirley McGlinn Endowed Scholarship fund will help us reach our $25,000 endowment goal and ensure continued scholarship support for students.]

Inspired to make a difference

Stacey Joseph lived with her family in Haiti for 11 years before moving to Florida in 2004. They came for a vacation, but family and friends urged them to stay and seek asylum in the U.S.

“My parents wanted to create a better life for me and my siblings,” she said. “I was fortunate to have that experience to live in Haiti. I was able to observe the suffering due to the poverty and the lack of medical services. That got me interested in helping people. I saw that even in the U.S. there were some areas that had similar issues.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Florida State, Joseph knew she wanted to be a physician. Her sister had a friend who was in MEDPREP, so she decided to apply.

“I knew that it caters to students that are underrepresented in the medical community,” she said. “I could tell by reading the information online that it was a family-oriented program. I needed that guidance.”

After being accepted, Joseph was awarded the McGlinn Scholarship.

“It was very inspiring to receive that scholarship,” she said. “I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be a MEDPREP student. It changed me as a person. Without it, I don’t think I’d be going to medical school.”

Helping the community

Oscar Castro grew up in East Moline and attend the University of Iowa as an undergraduate.

“I struggled to effectively study,” he said. “High school didn’t prepare me as well as I would have liked.”

Now, he’s nearing completion of the MEDPREP program and has two medical school acceptances on the table.

“The program showed me the best way for me to learn and how to implement what I learned,” he said.

Castro has had steady employment since his high school days, but receiving the McGlinn Scholarship allowed him to put more focus on his studies.

“It gives me some wiggle room,” he said. “During busy times, I can reduce my work hours. That has really helped me.”

While he hasn’t settled on a specialty, he knows that he wants to give back to his community and the program that opened so many doors for him.

“I would like to return to my hometown area and serve that population,” he said. “I want to help people who are in my former position and contribute to the MEDPREP scholarships. I think it’s important to help those people advance to where they want to be.”

Easing the burden

Chinue Wilford has always loved kids. She plans to go into pediatrics after her days in MEDPREP.

“Kids just bring a certain type of energy into a room,” she said.

Of course, becoming a doctor hasn’t always seemed to be a likely route for Wilford.

“Being an African-American female, there’s not a lot of representation,” she said. “There’s not a lot of people in the profession who look like me.”

Even with the opportunities provided by MEDPREP, financial assistance has been key to her success. The McGlinn Scholarship eased the burden on her and her parents.

“Financial aid can only do so much,” she said. “It was a great relief. My parents have helped me all they can, but I have other siblings that plan to attend college and also need financial assistance.”

Giving is important to Wilford, and she hopes to help others with her donations in the future.

“You never know what individuals are going through and what kind of impact you can have on their lives,” she said.

How to give

Donations can be made year-round at For specific information on MEDPREP scholarship giving, please visit and click on “About/Scholarships.” On March 6, donors can help celebrate the SIU Day of Giving my visiting and making a gift to benefit the scholarship, program or unit of their choice.

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, 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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.”

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