Category Archives: Scholarship Recipient

Dennis documents eclipse, connect with scholarship recipients

Left to right: Robert Dennis, Dorcas Brou and Ethan Grimm

By Jeff Wilson

Robert Dennis ’84 embarked on a unique journey to capture the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

His decision to travel to SIU for the eclipse was motivated by both professional and personal reasons. Invited to participate in the Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast Initiative, Dennis seized the opportunity to witness the eclipse on campus, reconnect with SIU, and engage with students who have benefited from scholarships he has established.

“Several locations were considered, but Carbondale was the obvious choice … to experience the event on campus, come home so-to-speak, and visit with students in my old stomping grounds,” he said.

Equipped with an arsenal of photography gear, he immersed himself in the eclipse photography experience. Describing the thrill of the clear skies during the eclipse, Dennis was excited to photograph such a phenomenon at his alma mater.

“It was a bit overwhelming at times,” he said. “You could feel the crowd’s excitement like electricity in the air.”

Connecting with Scholarship Recipients

During the eclipse, Dennis connected with scholarship recipients Ethan Grimm and Dorcas Brou, sharing memorable moments and capturing a selfie together. Through interactions with students throughout the event, Dennis witnessed their enthusiasm and dedication to their craft.

“I shared my work on the day with many of the CAM (College of Arts and Media) students,” Dennis said. “It was a true pleasure to engage in their enthusiasm as they worked on the production.”

Dennis hopes that scholarship recipients will remember the privilege of witnessing such a rare astronomical phenomenon and be inspired to give back to their university.

“I encourage each recipient to reach back to the school during their careers … to bring others along to share in their success, and give back often,” Dennis said.

Beyond the eclipse, Dennis remains committed to supporting scholarship recipients throughout the year. From phone conversations to social media interactions, he maintains a connection with students, offering guidance and mentorship.

Scholarship dinner honors donors, encourages philanthropy

By Jeff Wilson

On Friday, Nov. 3, the SIU Foundation hosted the 10th annual SIU Scholarship Dinner in the Student Center Ballroom. The event, which celebrates the impact of scholarships, was attended by more than 100 donors and 73 scholarship recipients.

“We have so many more scholarships available, and so many more students accepting those scholarships, that we’re going to need a bigger room next year. This is our biggest crowd ever,” said Matt Kupec, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations and CEO of the SIU Foundation.

During the 10 years of the event, the Foundation has awarded 12,748 scholarships, totaling more than $28 million. In the most recent fiscal year, the Foundation awarded a record number of scholarships (1,645) and total scholarship dollars ($4,931,584).

“Right now, one out of every seven students on our great campus receives a scholarship through the Foundation because of one of you and your generosity,” Kupec said.

SIU System President Dan Mahony emphasized the value scholarships present to the students and the university.

“For students, scholarship support can make the difference and enable them to finish or help them decide whether to come to SIU in the first place,” he said. “It’s critical to our university’s future and our ability to increase enrollment. It has a generational impact. It impacts the student, affects their families, and the generation after that.”

Dr. Amanda Martin ’07 ’08 provided the keynote address, and shared the story of how a fateful high school trip to SIU changed her life.

“We came to an event at SIU for FFA, and my name was randomly drawn to receive a scholarship,” she said. “I knew at that point I was meant to be a Saluki.”

Majoring in agribusiness economics, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s from SIU’s College of Agricultural, Life, and Physical Sciences. She also met her husband, Nick, in class.

“I absolutely loved the passion of the people that I had around who were focused on feeding a growing world and helping other people. I knew that one day, because of the experience I had at SIU, I wanted to give back to the place that helped me gain so much both personally and professionally,” Martin said.

LaMya Roach, a junior from Metropolis studying information technology in the College of Engineering, Computing, Technology, and Mathematics, gave the student perspective. A McNair Scholar, she has received the Sabrina Dawn Atkinson Scholarship and Mike Lawrence Scholarship. She was recently selected for the 2024 Alexander Lane Internship through the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

“As a first-generation college student, I knew that paying for college was going to be a huge hurdle. I was able to receive some amount of financial aid, but I knew that wasn’t going to cover all the costs. However, I wasn’t going to let that deter me,” she said. “When I saw the email that I had received a scholarship, I was so elated, and the stress I had been holding went away. I am so thankful for my donor because he is allowing me to continue my education, and he will never know how much that means to me.”

For more information about the SIU Foundation or to make a gift, visit siuf.org.

Donor pays it forward with the Don and Edith Braden scholarship

Anna Miller, the recipient of the Braden scholarship.

Last year, Wayne Braden established a scholarship and made a generous planned gift commitment to honor his parents, Don and Edith Braden, who were from rural southeastern Illinois. The scholarship is awarded to a student who graduated from Thompsonville High School or Hamilton County High School in Illinois.

This year, Anna Miller from McLeansboro was the recipient of the Braden scholarship. She and Wayne recently had a telephone conversation about the scholarship. It was then that Braden learned about the connection between Miller’s great grandmother and Braden’s grandmother.

“My grandmother, Ellen Lager, was very good friends with Anna Miller’s great grandmother, Susie McFarland. My grandmother was a widow and she and her children lived on a farm three miles from Thompsonville, Illinois,” said Braden. “Whenever Susie McFarland had to go into town, she would pick my grandmother up in her car to go shopping with her. They were very close to one another during those hard years. Learning that Anna Miller’s family and mine were connected made this scholarship award even more touching for me and my family,” said Braden.

Upon graduation from high school, Miller found herself in a similar situation as Wayne Braden’s father.

“Like my father, she did not have the funds to go to college. It is extremely rewarding to lend a hand to a young person like her to help her achieve her dreams. Her great grandmother showed great kindness to my grandmother and this scholarship is helping to pay it forward for me,” said Braden.

Miller is appreciative of the financial help she received from Braden.

“I am very thankful for the Braden scholarship because it has helped stabilize my finances over the course of the semester. By creating scholarships, donors make a tremendous impact on the lives of students like me. Scholarships and financial aid have allowed me to attend college without any student loans. Therefore, I will have a fresh start when I graduate,” said Miller.

Wayne said he has donated to charitable organizations much of his adult life and has been involved with the Salvation Army for several years.

“Charitable gifts are wonderful, and everyone should give back,” he said. “This scholarship in honor of my parents means so much more than just giving to an organization. Realizing I was helping a young woman accomplish a very important goal feels deeply satisfying.”

Wayne Braden currently lives in Portland, Oregon, and his sister, Judy Braden Armstrong who also helped establish the scholarship, resides in Maryville, Michigan.

Saluki love story leads to scholarships

Nick and Amanda Martin are paying it forward by establishing the Martin First-Generation Agricultural Student Scholarship.

Two $500 scholarships will be awarded annually to support first-generation students studying agricultural sciences who are also members of Sigma Alpha sorority or Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity.

Nick graduated from SIU in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in plant and soil science, and Amanda earned a bachelor’s degree in 2007 and master’s degree in 2008 in agribusiness economics.

Amanda grew up in the small town of Du Bois, Illinois, and credits her agriculture teacher for igniting her love of agriculture.

“I got involved in FFA in high school, and I fell in love with the service mindset,” Amanda said. “Farmers work every day making sure we can all live.

They are literally responsible for feeding and clothing the world. It is a noble profession.”

Nick fondly remembers helping his grandfather with his farm and working on other farms.

“I initially majored in architecture at SIU but it just wasn’t the right fit,” Nick said. “I talked to Karen Midden in SIU’s Department of Plant, Soil, and Agricultural Systems, and she helped steer me to a major in agriculture. Like Amanda, I fell in love with agriculture, especially landscape horticulture.”

SALUKIS IN LOVE

Nick and Amanda met through the Agbassador program, which is a student recruitment organization comprised of 12 outstanding students selected by faculty, administrators, and students. Students serve as speakers and present at high schools, community colleges, and attend career fairs and open houses across the country.

“Our advisor was Lucas Maxwell, and he would drive us to conferences and recruitment activities, so we had a lot of van time,” Amanda said. “I met Nick Martin through this organization and our team was always together. The longest journey was to the University of Florida for the national agriculture ambassador conference. I figured if we could stand someone for that long of a trip, then that’s a good indication that we’d get along.”

After their graduation, the Martins stayed in touch with Maxwell, and they developed a strong friendship that still exists today.

“We knew exactly who we wanted to officiate our wedding, the mentor that was with us from the start. Lucas became ordained online so he could officiate our wedding,” Nick said. “We got married in a historic little church called Kornthal Church in Jonesboro that sits in the middle of farmland. We felt it was appropriate to get married in the middle of such a big agricultural area. It felt natural and right to us.”

The wedding reception was basically a Saluki alumni event, Dean Gary Minish even gave a speech.

After leaving Carbondale, Nick and Amanda moved to Auburn, Alabama, where Nick graduated from Auburn University in 2011 with a master’s degree in forestry. During this time, Amanda served as the coordinator of recruitment for the Department of Poultry Science. They moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where Nick joined Bartlett Tree Experts, the world’s leading scientific tree and shrub care company. During this time, Amanda served as a middle school science teacher as part of the TEACH Charlotte program. Nick was then able to transition to a remote position in 2012, so Amanda could pursue her Ph.D. in higher education administration, which began at Auburn University. While enrolled in classes she worked with the Auburn University College of Agriculture as the coordinator of recruitment and alumni relations. Another door opened for Amanda and the team moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2016. Amanda finished her doctorate at LSU and became an Assistant Dean for the LSU College of Agriculture.

The couple recently moved to Algonquin, Illinois, where Amanda works with the executive team at the American Egg Board at the Chicago headquarters. Amanda’s background within agriculture and education, continue to guide her professional career. She assisted with the White House Easter Egg Roll, and her current focus project is on developing the college internship program. Nick is now the vice president of Bartlett Consulting where he leads an international team throughout the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. His work has taken him to numerous university campuses in the U.S., several U.S. Army bases, oil refineries in Canada, hurricane-ravaged properties in Florida, the historic mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, and his all-time favorite, several royal properties in the United Kingdom including Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace.

GIVING BACK

The impetus behind establishing the two $500 scholarships is due to a $500 scholarship Amanda was offered through the SIU College of Agriculture.

“No one in my family had gone to college, and it just wasn’t on my radar,” Amanda said. “So, when I received that scholarship offer, it made me feel like someone believed in me. I felt for the first time that I could be successful, and it was enough to make me commit. We would love to grow our scholarship and help more students in the future.”

Nick says he hopes more people give back to SIU in whatever capacity they have.

“With our careers, we don’t have a lot of time to volunteer, but over the years we saved and what we can give just might help a student out with paying for books,” he said. “Whatever you can do to help out is important.”

Nick was recently honored at last year’s Ag Banquet and received a MidCareer Alumni Award.

“It was great to be back in Carbondale last fall to receive such a great honor. We would love to get more involved with SIU now that we live in Illinois,” he said. “We have plans for attending Homecoming and going to a football game. We love being back in the place where we fell in love.”

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Meet Scholarship Recipient Kierra Greer

Kierra Greer stands in front of SIU clocktower with hands on hips, smiling and wearing a graduation cap.

Kierra Greer is a psychology major who is graduating in December 2022.

Why did you choose SIU?

I chose SIU because SIU chose me. When the other schools didn’t give me a chance, SIU did. I have been 3.8 GPA student since.

What would you tell a prospective student about SIU?

I will tell them that SIU is here to support you along the way. Whatever your goals are, there’s a group of people at SIU waiting to help you accomplish them.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?

My passion to help others and see them become the best version of themselves is what sparked my interest in psychology. Also, I want to be a part of effective solutions for the youth when it comes to the heavy burden of mental health issues.

Kierra Greer holds her one-year-old son in front of the SIU Banterra Center.

What motivates you as a student?

My son motivates me! I’m a first-generation college student. I want him to follow in my footsteps and know that if mommy can do it, so can he.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?

My most memorable time at SIU was this commencement photoshoot with the First Saluki Center. As I was taking the photos in areas that meant the most to me, I got emotional. Success is not always easy, and to overcome obstacles as a single mother has been a blessing.

Have you received any scholarships as a student? Do you know the name of your scholarship(s)?

Yes, I received the Fred W. Samson Scholarship.

How has this scholarship benefited your academic and professional goals?

It has allowed me to start the next phase in my education journey. It also removed the stress of financial burdens, which helped me focus on my academics more.

What would you say to convince a potential donor that establishing a scholarship fund is important?

Students are the future, and many of us want to be a positive change for the future. Sometimes all we need is a helping hand to make it through. Your help would change someone’s life forever as well as their community.

How will you continue the legacy of your scholarship?

I’m going to continue my education this spring at SIU to pursue my master’s in counseling and rehabilitation, so that I can become a licensed therapist.

Kierra Greer holds hands with her son and walks up the steps of the SIU Banterra Center.

How would you like to give back to SIU one day?

I would like to create a scholarship for single mothers just like me who are going to school, succeeding, and trying to overcome obstacles.

What kind of doors have opened for you because of the scholarship?

I will be able to start my master’s program next spring with the release of my transcripts and degree.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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.

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.

Scholarships allow student-athletes to thrive

Evan Martin, a member of the SIU baseball team, was drawn to SIU because of the opportunities for financial assistance.

“Being raised by a single mother, the biggest factor when it came to deciding where I wanted to go to school was making sure it would not put her in any uncomfortable financial situations,” he said.

His mother, Barbara Graham, is an SIU alumna, which opened more scholarship opportunities for Martin. He received legacy, academic, and athletic scholarships.

“These scholarships have been the greatest thing that has happened to my family and me,” he said. “It gave my mom a chance to take a deep breath and focus on herself for the first time in 21 years.”

Martin played the 2021 season as a redshirt freshman, hitting .261 with 10 doubles, five home runs, and 31 RBIs. In the Salukis’ MVC Tournament win against Valparaiso, he was 3-for-4 at the plate with two doubles and three runs scored.

“My Saluki experience has been unbelievable,” he said. “Since my first day on campus, the coaches, staff, faculty, and everyone else in Carbondale has welcomed me with open arms.”

Studying mathematics with the hopes of working in the analytics department of a Major League Baseball team, Martin has found success off the field at SIU as well.

“The math department at SIU has provided me with a holistic mathematics education, but statistical analysis is my focus,” he said. “I was able to take multiple 400-plus level statistics courses that use many of the same programs being used in Major League Baseball. I feel as though this blend of playing baseball and taking courses that enhance my understanding of data and statistics will make me a well-rounded candidate when I am able to pursue my career.”

Salukis Forever

Student-athletes like Martin are the main beneficiaries of the Salukis Forever fundraising campaign.

The $25 million campaign, which launched in February, coupled with appropriate cost-cutting, and increased revenues from other sources, will provide sustainable funding to drive Saluki Athletics forward. “Receiving these scholarships has assured my mother that all of her hard work has paid off,” Martin said. “I know it makes her so happy to see how successful I have become, and that matters to me more than anything else.”

By supporting the Salukis Forever campaign, more student-athletes will have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Martin and others like him. For more information, visit www.foreversiu.org/athletics.

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

A love of teaching inspires others

Lida and her class at Tamaroa Grade School where she began her teaching career.

Lida Lisenby Taylor’s life and commitment to education are being remembered through a scholarship fund set up by her daughter, Cynthia Taylor Rice.

The Lida Lisenby Taylor Future Educator Scholarship Fund is awarded to a student enrolled in the school of education and majoring in teaching, counseling, or administration. The student must be a graduate of DuQuoin High School, Pinckneyville High School, or Tamaroa Grade School.

The scholarship was created by Rice in honor of her mother, who strongly believed in the power of an education.

“She came from a family of educators. My mom began her teaching career in Tamaroa after graduating from SIU in 1942. She was offered a position in DuQuoin where she taught English and Latin until her retirement in 1968,” Rice said.

Rice said that through the years she has met many of her mother’s students and they would share how important Latin and her mother were to them throughout their lives.

Lida and her roommates in front of their Carbondale boarding
house when it was Southern Illinois Normal.

“I had one of her former students tell me what an influence my mom had been on his life. He said my mother wasn’t just a teacher but an educator of the highest degree. His message and the many letters she received from scholarship recipient students have made me very proud of my mother and her influence on others,” Rice said.

When Taylor passed away in 2003, Rice went through the process of cleaning out her mother’s home.

“I found Latin projects and posters and memorabilia throughout the house. She had Roman chariots and Parthenon replicas everywhere. I remember one of her biggest projects was throwing a Roman banquet for the students. They wore togas and drank Roman punch. She pulled out all the stops for her students,” Rice said.

Rice said the scholarship is a way for her mother to continue to influence future educators.

“There are not too many things in the world that are more important than being a teacher and loving what you do. That philosophy very accurately describes my mother and her love of teaching,” said Rice.

Meet Jamie Newton, recipient of the Lida Lisenby Taylor Future Educator Scholarship

Jamie Newton, a senior majoring in elementary education is a recipient of the Lida Lisenby Taylor Future Educator Scholarship. Newton looks forward to teaching first or second grade after she graduates.

“I’ve always had a love of school and learning. SIU has provided me with the tools and confidence so I can be a good educator,” Newton said.

Newton is grateful for the Lida Lisenby Taylor scholarship and how it has lessened the burden of her student loans.

“I would like to tell Mrs. Rice how thankful I am that they have so graciously chosen me to be the recipient of the Lida Lisenby Taylor Future Educator Scholarship. I feel so grateful to have her support because she has helped give me the opportunity to further my education at SIU. The scholarship has definitely helped lift some of the weight of student loans,” she said. “Although Mrs. Rice does not know me personally, she will always be a part of my journey throughout college and into my future career. Her contribution has left its mark on my life and will affect the students that I will one day teach.”

Newton hopes others will follow in the path of Mrs. Rice and give to students who need financial assistance.

“For many students like me, scholarships help pursue our dreams and lessen the burden of student loans. Being the recipient of a scholarship, I understand how it comforts us to know that we don’t have to be alone while trying to pursue our dreams,” she said. “I also hope that someday I will provide the same sense of relief that I have felt after receiving a scholarship.”

Engage with us on LinkedInFacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Meet Senior Taylor Hartke

Taylor Hartke, a Teutopolis, Illinois native, is a senior majoring in Agricultural Communications. Hartke is the recipient of the 2021-2022 College of Agricultural Sciences Leadership Scholarship. In earlier years, Hartke received the  School of Agricultural Sciences Leadership Scholarship.

What do you enjoy most about being an SIU student?
I enjoy the opportunities SIU strives to provide its students. Regardless of your interest, major, or career path, there are opportunities to gain valuable experiences both inside and out of the classroom. SIU, its faculty, and staff are committed to supporting students and providing them with the necessary tools to be successful both now as well as after graduation.

Why did you choose the major that you did?
Growing up, I had the privilege of being raised on my family’s diversified grain and livestock farm. This immediate involvement in the agricultural industry allowed me to develop a deep passion and appreciation for agriculture. Through various leadership roles in organizations like 4-H and FFA, I built upon the foundation of being raised in agriculture and discovered my passion to communicate about it. Collectively a variety of experiences and opportunities have led me to be pursuing a degree in Agricultural Communications with the ultimate goal of serving the farm, the farmer, and the consumers. I plan on utilizing my knowledge from being raised in production agriculture to bridge the gap that lies between producers and consumers by generating consumer trust and cultivating understanding.

How would you describe your favorite(s) professors/staff/admin at your college?
Committed. I’m very grateful for the commitment they have to my success both inside and outside of their classroom. Regardless of the time of day or how busy their schedule is, they make time for me, and they value my perspective as a student.

Did you benefit from a scholarship? If so, how?
I am extremely grateful for the financial support I have been gifted. The generosity of donors has provided me with some of the most amazing experiences to learn and explore a variety of opportunities. Their generosity has lessened the financial burden that paying for college can be ultimately providing me with ample time to focus on academics while maintaining high levels of involvement across campus and in my community.

Are you involved in any student organizations and, if so, in what capacity?
I am grateful for the involvement I have been able to have across our campus through a variety of student organizations as well as employment opportunities. I am currently serving as President of Sigma Alpha Sorority, which is a professional agricultural sorority, as well as President of our Collegiate Farm Bureau Chapter, Financial Chair of Agricultural Student Council, an Agbassador, a Saluki Ambassador, and a member of the Agriculture Education Club, ATA, and Collegiate FFA. I also serve on the national scale as an Agriculture Future of America Student Ambassador.

What would you say to encourage donors to give back to SIU?
Your donation is an investment. You have the power to invest in the next generation of leaders across a variety of professions and industries. I am extremely humbled to have received such support and know that it serves as encouragement going forward as I strive to make a difference in the lives of others as I know that I will encounter challenges. Regardless of if you personally know a student or not, you become an integral role in their success both educationally and beyond.

What is a fun fact about you that you would like to share?
For my siblings and me, being part of the Saluki family started prior to stepping foot on campus as students. We were raised rooting on SIU and our frequent visits started at homecoming in 1999. My siblings and I, a set of quadruplets, were 5 months old and our mom marched as an Alumni of the Marching Salukis. My parents, David & Korrie Hartke, are both proud SIU Alumni. My mom received her degree in Radio/Television and my dad in Animal Science.

They, in fact, met at SIU!

Although my brother, Dustin, decided trade school would prepare him best, my brothers Alex and Garrett, as well as myself are all Salukis. Alex graduated in May 2021 with his degree in Agribusiness Economics and Garrett and I are seniors. Garrett is a Crop, Soil, and Environmental Management major, and I am an Agricultural Communications student. All three of us have worked in different capacities on campus while also being highly involved in a variety of RSO’s. In fact, a large majority of my aunts, uncles, and cousins have chosen SIU to pursue their education as well.