SIU graduate thankful for unique opportunities

Shaka Mitchell - Paul Simon Public Policy Instituteby Rebecca Renshaw

If Shaka Mitchell, a 2011 SIU Carbondale graduate, could sum up his experience with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute in one word, it would be “exposure.”

“The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute opened doors of opportunity for me. It gave me an avenue to meet a lot of influential people in business and politics. It also introduced me to the world of networking,” he said. “Had I not had that exposure, I would certainly not be where I am today.”

Today, Mitchell lives in Chicago and is making plans to open a fitness gym, but his path to owning his own business has been far from ordinary.

Upon graduating from O’Fallon Township High School, in O’Fallon, Illinois, Mitchell received a full SIU Presidential Scholarship. Mitchell earned a bachelor’s degree in business finance from SIU Carbondale in May 2011.

“Getting a good foundation in business has really helped me with opening my gym, but it was something completely outside of the world of business that ignited my passion,” Mitchell said.

While at SIU, Mitchell discovered an interest that would reshape his future. As a sophomore, he took a martial arts class with a Korean instructor and found he excelled at the sport. After graduating from SIU, Mitchell took his passion for martial arts to a new level. He enrolled at Yong-In University in South Korea and earned a master’s degree in Taekwondo.

“I was the only American to ever attend Yong-In University,” Mitchell shared. “I did not know any of the language and I knew no one there. But, that didn’t stop me from fulfilling my dream. Because of what I learned in South Korea and placing second in the Taekwondo National Championships, I can confidently say I am the best at what I do and what I can offer others. As for the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, it gave me the confidence to go fulfill my dreams.

As a student, Mitchell served the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute as an ambassador and a student worker. In those roles, he received opportunities to meet prominent people in both business and politics.

“One of my highlights was getting to meet businessman Chris Gardner. The motion picture, “The Pursuit of Happyness” is based on a book about Gardner’s life,” Mitchell said. “I was also influenced by the Vince Demuzio internship program were I worked at the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

“I would encourage SIU alumni and donors to support the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute by helping fund any of the existing endowed student scholarships. Having personally worked with Mike Lawrence, former director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, and knowing what a tremendous impact he had on my life, I would like to see monetary donations go to further his cause.”

To learn more about the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, visit To learn more about the needs of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, visit

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Student Spotlight: Alyssa Allison shares how the School of Law broadens horizons

SIU School of Law student Alyssa Allison

By Rebecca Renshaw

Alyssa Allison says she became interested in SIU’s School of Law when a former SIU track and field teammate told her about the program and how inspiring it is to learn about the law.

“Attending law school has changed my life and broadened my horizons. As I learn about legal issues, I have a greater understanding of how to help people who are having problems in life. Helping others is why I’m in this profession. On top of that, the faculty are truly concerned about the students here. I have come to know them as both mentors and friends,” Allison said.

Upon graduation, Allison plans to enter the Army JAG Corps to become a Judge Advocate.

“A Judge Advocate is a licensed attorney qualified to represent the Army and its soldiers in military legal matters,” she said. “I have several family members who are in the military, so it just makes sense for me to follow in their footsteps,” Allison said.

A third-year law student who works in the law library, Allison says her work has opened her eyes to the many services the law school library provides to both students and the public.

“This library is not just used by law students. It’s a federal repository that provides services far beyond Jackson County. It’s just a great resource to the community and the staff here is dedicated to helping provide the best legal research resources possible,” Allison said.

“If someone were to donate to the law school today, I would ask them to help students with scholarships. As an undergraduate, I received an athletic scholarship that made all the difference for me. Because of the scholarship, I was able to keep my costs down and focus on schoolwork,” she said. “I would also ask donors to help us purchase more library resources and computers. You’d be surprised at how much our resources and computers are used each day. We would definitely appreciate any donations made to help support SIU’s School of Law,” she said.

To learn more about the SIU School of Law, visit To learn more about the needs of the School of Law, visit

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Student Spotlight: Kinesiology Student Sean Gloss

Student Spotlight: SIU Kinesiology Student Sean Gloss

by Rebecca Renshaw

Sean Gloss is a teaching assistant in exercise physiology. He will receive a master’s degree in exercise science in May 2018 and plans on getting a Ph.D. in exercise science upon graduation.

Sean Gloss originally wanted to be a physical therapist but when he enrolled in a motor behavior research class led by Dr. Porter, he quickly changed his direction of study.

“I had this idea that research was boring, but Dr. Porter made the research really interesting and challenging all at the same time,” Gloss said.

The research, coupled with the program’s community outreach, is what ignited Gloss’ passion for the program.

“Everything in the kinesiology program has vastly broadened my scope of how I can help my community. The professors are my role models on how to conduct myself as an adult. Furthermore, I see the positive impact the Strong Survivor program makes on people who have cancer,” Gloss said. “The program also hosts the men and women’s health expos each year to educate the community about healthy lifestyle choices – all of these programs makes me want to be a better person and to give back to others.”

Gloss recognizes the program has many financial needs, but he says the biggest need is to have more exercise testing equipment. “Our students need more testing equipment so they could do more research. We also need to be working on the same equipment as what is found out there in the real world,” he said. “There are so many upgrades we could use – from a new hydrostatic weighing tub to treadmills – students would greatly benefit from new equipment.”

To learn more about the Department of Kinesiology, visit To learn more about the needs of the College of Education and Human Services, visit

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Mortuary Science planning the next step

CASA Mortuary Class and Lab

By Jeff Wilson

At SIU, students studying in studying mortuary science are preparing for a profession that requires compassion for others as well as expertise in psychology, anatomy, policy and management.

The university’s mortuary science program is one of only seven in the country to offer a bachelor’s degree, and it’s the only one of its kind in Illinois. With about 100 on-campus students and a growing online presence, the mortuary science program is thriving.

Through the Forever SIU fundraising campaign, those in charge of the program hope to take it to the next level and add more value by building an on-site crematorium.

“We would be one of the few schools in the country to offer one,” said Anthony Fleege, associate professor of mortuary science.

There would be many benefits, she added.

Students would receive hands-on training and be able to become Certified Crematory Operators, which currently comes at the extra cost of a two-day course at another location. Certification is required to continue in the profession after one year.

An on-site crematorium would also give the university a place to handle the removal of medical cadavers.

Plus, community and local coroners would benefit. More and more often, the cost of cremating the bodies of indigent people is falling on local government. The university could become the place to send those remains, providing valuable services as well as learning opportunities for students.

While the idea of a crematorium built onto the College of Applied Science and Arts building may not sound appealing, no one but those inside would even know it was there.

“There would be no smoke, no ash,” Fleege said. “It would be designed to fit in with the current building.”

All the planning is done, and building could begin once the funds are raised, Fleege said. The $250,000 sought by the college would cover building costs, equipment and long-term maintenance.

To learn more about the Mortuary Science program, visit To learn more about the needs of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, visit

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Law clinics add value for students, community

SIU School of Law student Nathan Davis

By Jeff Wilson

Nathan Davis is doing more than earning a degree from the SIU School of Law, he’s gaining valuable, real-world experience.

A third-year law student, Davis is working on dozens of cases for the school’s Civil Practice/Elderly Clinic.

“This is easily the best practical experience,” he said. “There are not many law schools that offer elder law clinics.”

Working with the law clinic allows Davis to go out and meet clients. It’s something that will allow him to hit the ground running after graduation.

“You can walk out the door and drop into a role at a law firm,” he said. “You’ll have a pretty good idea of what you’re doing. It makes you more marketable, in-demand.”

The clinic offers a variety of services, including estate planning, debt collection and powers of attorney for health care and property. It’s especially vital in the rural communities of Southern Illinois. All of his clients are older than 60 and most are very low-income.

“It’s important. They have nowhere else to turn” Davis said.

Helping those that need it most is rewarding, and Davis said he appreciates the experience.

“It makes you feel good and brings a smile to your face,” he said. “I say it’s good for the soul.”

Supporting the School of Law through the Forever SIU campaign ensures students are able to continue receiving such important training. It also helps ensure the community has access to law clinics that offer assistance to the elderly, veterans, juvenile, immigrants and victims of domestic violence.

For more information about the SIU School of Law clinics, visit For more information about the school’s fundraising goals, visit

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