Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Allison Kellerman

Alli Kellerman, SIU Scholarship recipient studies abroad in Australia

Allison Kellerman is a senior from Nashville, Illinois, studying zoology and chemistry. She is a Chancellor’s Scholarship recipient. Kellerman is currently studying abroad in Australia.

Why did you choose SIU?
I chose SIU because it is one of three schools in Illinois that offers a degree in zoology, and it is by far the best of those three. I grew up going to the St. Louis Zoo fairly often, which inspired me to become a zoologist and research animals. SIU happens to be one of the main places St. Louis Zoo looks to hire employees from.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
I am so grateful that I chose SIU as this semester I am currently in Melbourne, Australia! I am absolutely loving my time studying abroad. I have seen so many interesting animals and had so many amazing experiences that I couldn’t even imagine growing up in the small town cornfields of Southern Illinois. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the semester has in store.

What do you brag about most when you tell your friends about SIU?
I love to brag about SIU’s amazing zoology program. I love the research the professors are doing and I love that I get to be a part of it by studying poison frogs in Dr. Brown’s lab.

Could you tell us about the impact of the scholarship on your education at SIU and your life in general?
This scholarship has absolutely changed my life. There is no exaggerating when I say that I probably would not be in school without this scholarship. My family has had a pretty tough financial time, particularly right as I was looking for schools. When that letter came in the mail, it was without a doubt the happiest day of my life as of yet. I knew this opportunity would open so many doors such as, an internship last summer with my favorite place on earth, the St Louis Zoo, and this study abroad opportunity that I am currently undertaking in the wonderful country of Australia. I cannot thank you enough for allowing these experiences to be possible for me, but also allowing me to go to college in the first place.

Why should people consider donating to SIU?
Donating to SIU allows the college to continue changing the lives of students from all over the world. There is such an interesting group of students that attends SIU, and I am so happy to be able to know so many of them. I would probably not be able to get a higher education without the scholarship I received, so I will be eternally grateful to those that donate to SIU.

If you had $1,000 to donate to SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit? Why?
I would like to see the money benefit research at SIU. They are currently cutting so many research opportunities at the school, which is a real shame. Now that so many people are getting a higher education, research is what sets the driven, dedicated, and brilliant students apart from the average. Do we still have opportunities to research? Yes, but the problem is now there is little to no chance of getting an undergraduate assistantship, which allows students to get paid for working at their research position. Because I cannot get paid for research, I have such little time to dedicate to really focusing on a project. Between my studies, the groups and clubs and sports teams I am in, and my job to make money, I have maybe two hours a week to put towards my research which is not nearly enough to develop a quality research topic and follow through with collecting and interpreting the data. This is why more money should be put back into the Undergraduate Research Program so that students like me can continue to do research.

You can support Chancellor’s Scholarships by making a gift online.

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The power of crowdfunding at SIU

SIU Crowdfunding platform Salukifunder

The power of crowdfunding

Crowdfunding allows students, faculty and staff to secure funding for the projects that matter to them most. It connects donors to memories of their alma mater, what is currently happening on campus, and creates a sense of community and connectivity for everyone.

So who benefits from crowdfunding?

Everyone does.

Over a year ago, SIU Carbondale began SalukiFunder, a crowdfunding platform that helps SIU students, faculty and staff raise money to make an impact on campus, in the community and globally.

SIU Crowdfunding platform SalukifunderJust recently, a group started a fund to memorialize a longtime friend, SIU alum, and staunch supporter of SIU athletics – Remy Billips. They hoped to raise $1,100 to install a memorial bench at SIU Campus Lake to honor Billips.

In less than two weeks, the group raised $1,100, which was the amount needed to purchase the bench and memorial plaque.

The power of crowdfunding at the SIU Carbondale campus serves as a reminder that this valuable resource is available and open to students, staff, and the community. For more information visit

The story of Remy Billips

Remy Billups was a loyal two-degree SIU alumnus who loved his alma mater.  From his days as a Saluki Cheerleader and team mascot in school, to serving in leadership roles for the SIU Carbondale & SIU Edwardsville Alumni Associations, Saluki Maroon was in his blood.  A devoted sports fan, Remy rooted hard for his Salukis and beloved Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Blackhawks & Chicago Bulls.  He also held a position in merchandise sales for the latter three organizations: a role Remy truly thrived in.  Most important, Remy was a beloved friend to so many.  So many of us were blessed to have known Remy and call him ‘friend.’  And quite a few people would refer to him as their ‘best friend.’  His quick wit, humor and good nature made him a joy to be around.

SIU Unveils Impressive New Boathouse

Ralph E. Becker Pavilion at SIU Campus Lake

by Rebecca Renshaw

Carbondale, IL – Southern Illinois University Carbondale will unveil an impressive renovation of the Campus Lake boathouse on April 28.

Alumnus Ralph Becker contributed $1 million to renovate the popular boathouse, a focal point of Campus Lake for more than six decades. Construction workers have put the finishing touches on the project just in time for this year’s 45th annual Cardboard Boat Regatta, which is returning to Campus Lake this year. The structure sits at the starting point for the race.

The SIU Foundation will host a dedication celebration of the boathouse, located at 1493 Douglas Drive on campus, at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 28. The 45th Annual Great Cardboard Boat Regatta will be held at 1:00 pm that day.

“This boathouse holds many sentimental memories for our alumni, and I am pleased to say that it will create many more lasting memories for our students and those to come,” said Jim Salmo, CEO of the SIU Foundation and vice chancellor for development and alumni relations.

Ralph Becker’s vision

Becker, who will attend the dedication with his family, was one of the pioneers of the university’s radio-television program. He is a 1955 SIU graduate and an Alumni Achievement Award recipient.

Becker and his wife, Jane, live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and have been generous supporters of SIU. Becker’s philosophy is that once a goal has been achieved, one should work hard and set additional goals.

“I want to challenge everyone to give back to others, and to what is important to them,” Becker said. “It is extremely important to challenge others to do bigger and better than what I am able to accomplish. That is the only way progress will be made.”

Xanadu on the lake

Generations of SIU students, staff and community members have flocked to the boat house to enjoy a variety of outdoor experiences. One of the most popular was moonlight canoeing. Each month, when the moon was full, students and community members enjoyed a free canoe or paddleboat ride across the lake.

The boathouse has also been home to weddings, receptions and countless celebrations. The renovated facility will include event space for a variety of purposes, including classroom and social activities.

Many other events such as the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta were hosted at the boat house for over 40 years. Due to the draining and cleaning of the lake, the regatta was temporarily moved to a different location. Thanks to the restoration of the lake and the added benefit of a renovated boat house, the race is back where it all began.

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Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Victoria Estes

Scholarship Donor Luncheon: Victoria Estes and Christian Moe.
Victoria Estes, scholarship recipient, pictured with Christian Moe, scholarship donor.

Victoria Estes is a sophomore from Tremont, Illinois, studying theater. She is the recipient of the following scholarships: University Excellence Scholarship, Christian H. Moe Playwriting Scholarship, and Theater Scholarship.

Why did you choose SIU?
The campus is absolutely gorgeous, and the people are some of the friendliest people I have ever met. It felt so welcoming!

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
I have always had a passion for theater. I love to act, write and sing! Theater is the best avenue for me to explore all of those aspects.

What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
My most memorable experience was definitely the first Dawgs Nite Out when I was a freshman. I went with my newly found friends and we had a blast!

What do you brag about most when you tell your friends about SIU?
I’m a sophomore and I’ve already added so many new experiences that will look impressive when I go into the workforce.

Could you tell us about the impact of the scholarship on your education at SIU and your life in general?
It has allowed me to branch out and try more avenues of theater that I may not have had the finances to try without the scholarships. I’ve had more opportunities to add to my résumé than I ever thought possible!

Why should people consider donating to SIU?
There are many students that are brilliant and have wonderful plans to better the world, but they may not have the finances to receive every possible opportunity to reach those goals.

If you had $1,000 to donate to SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit? Why?
I would donate to a theater student interested in playwriting or dramaturgy because students should feel free to explore career paths that they never thought were possible!


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Design alumnus, entrepreneur strengthens legacy through philanthropy

Mark Stenftenagel, 1973 alumnus of the SIU Design program

By Jeff Wilson

Each spring, the SIU School of Art and Design hosts Design Days, which brings professional designers, both alumni and non-alumni, to campus.

With “Momentum” as this year’s theme, the focus was on moving the field of design forward. The event and its theme were each representative of the dedication needed to be successful.

Mark Stenftenagel is a good example of that dedication. A 1973 alumnus of the SIU Design program, Stenftenagel has made an impact through monetary donations and personal effort.

“I had an extremely rich, enjoyable experience at SIU,” he said. “The more I get involved, the more I enjoy it. It’s a great university. There are really good students here.”

Making a noticeable impact  

His philanthropy has helped the university’s Design program stay modern. In 2014, the program moved to a new workspace in Pulliam Hall, leaving behind the Blue Barracks on East Campus. A $30,000 donation from Stenftenagel helped ensure the program could thrive in its new location.

“Because of people like Mark, we have dedicated Design scholarships,” said Rob Lopez, interim director of the School of Art and Design. “It helps with recruitment and retention. Our students can be proud when they leave.”

Stenftenagel also facilitates the delivery of free furniture that comes from Merchandise Mart in Chicago. The mart is a wholesale design center, and when it gets new inventory, the old items need a home. Stenftenagel has made sure the SIU Design program is one of those new homes.

Before visiting SIU for Design Days on April 6, he loaded a truck and trailer (donated by his colleagues at Installation Specialists in Itasca) and brought a shipment of new furniture along with him.

From football to furniture design and beyond

Stenftenagel came to SIU on a football scholarship. He later decided to forgo football and focus on design.

“I wanted to study design, and I also wanted to play football,” he said. “Southern was the best place to do that. I hated to leave the team. It was tough.”

After his junior year, Stenftenagel took a break from the design program and started an on-campus preschool. He designed the furniture for the school so that it could be easily set up and broken down each day.

“It was called Alpha Preschool,” he said. “It had a really open environment, which is what a lot of schools are going to nowadays.”

After meeting his future wife, Margaret, a 1972 SIU alumna, Stenftenagel sold the preschool and finished his design degree. After graduating, the couple moved to Boston for about two years, before returning to Illinois and settling in Elmhurst.

In 1984, he founded Whitney Architects, which focuses on architecture and interior design. A year later, he started Q Design, which does industrial design, focusing mostly on furniture.

Mark Stenftenagel, 1973 alumnus of the SIU Design programA giant Q on the wall in the Pulliam Hall Design Wing, denotes Stenftenagel’s impact on the program. It represents the Q Lounge, which is filled with furniture he helped acquire.

“The world needs good design,” Stenftenagel said. “What we learned (at SIU) is more pertinent today. Design is the essence of problem solving. All kinds of companies are looking for design. The need is there.”

To learn more about the School of Art & Design, visit

The SIU Foundation is in the midst of Forever SIU, a three-year fundraising campaign. To learn more about the campaign and how to give, visit


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Estate gift will help others rise

Susan McClary (left) and her parents, Dan and Toccoa McClary (right).
Susan McClary (left) and her parents, Dan and Toccoa McClary (right).

By Rebecca Renshaw and Jeff Wilson

Dan and Toccoa McClary worked to ensure that their daughter, Susan McClary, had every opportunity to succeed. She didn’t let them down.

Susan, a renowned musicologist and 1968 SIU graduate, is furthering her parents’ mission by making a $400,000 estate gift through the SIU Foundation. The Don and Toccoa McClary Scholarship will benefit female Native American or African American students who enter programs focused on science, technology, engineering or math (commonly known as STEM).

Her parents were SIU professors who taught microbiology and math. Her father, who was Cherokee, grew up in Oklahoma during the Great Depression. He served in World War II; through the GI Bill, he was able to attend college and earn his doctorate.

“My parents were deeply committed to education, because the education they received allowed them to get out of the Dust Bowl,” Susan said. “They made an enormous jump in life by the virtue of education.”

That drive was instilled in their daughter, and Susan took their ambition to another level. After earning a bachelor’s degree in music from SIU, she received her master’s and doctoral degrees in musicology from Harvard University.

“My parents insisted on excellence in education. It was clear I had to make the best grades and always be focused on moving forward,” Susan said. “My father wept when he learned I was going to Harvard.”

She went on to hold a number of positions in higher education, spending time at the University of Minnesota, McGill University, the University of Oslo and UCLA. Currently, she is a professor in the Department of Music at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I work with a program that brings kids from the inner city to campus,” Susan said. “My parents would want kids who are disadvantaged to have the same opportunities I did.”

Her many accomplishments include being awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellowship from 1995 to 2000. In the spring of 2017, she received an honorary Doctor of Music Arts degree from SIU, the place her parents loved so dearly.

“It’s a beautiful area. My parents loved going to Giant City and Little Grassy,” she said. “The landscape is just gorgeous.”

Dan and Toccoa McClary stayed in Carbondale until their deaths in 1984 and 2005, respectively.

“It was quite obvious that I wanted to reinvest in higher education,” Susan said. “SIU is a really good place for kids who are the first generation to get their degrees. It’s where the money will have the greatest impact.”

For more information about the Forever SIU campaign, visit


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Meet SIU Scholarship Recipient – Rachel Bolerjack

Rachel Bolerjack - SIU Bertrand Scholar

Rachel Bolerjack is a senior from Mt. Vernon, Illinois, studying chemistry.

Why did you choose SIU?
SIU’s College of Science stood out among the other schools I was looking into because they seem to care more about individual students than the overall class size. SIU was also the only school that had not only an undergraduate research program, but a well-developed one. Finally, by being rewarded the Excellence Scholarship, I was able to go to my chosen university without putting an impossible financial burden on my parents and myself. My choice for SIU was a no-brainer.

What inspired you to choose your area of study?
For my entire life, I have always had a curiosity about the universe and how it functions; to the point where I would spend my entire summers watching the Science and Discovery channels.  I knew early on that I would want my career to be in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).  It wasn’t until my Intro to Chemistry course during sophomore year of high school that I discovered chemistry was my passion.  It was through this field that I could explore the inner workings of the universe and understand them.

What are your hobbies, interests, and/or activity groups that you are currently involved in?
Currently I’m involved in research on campus. I recently completed a semester of synthesis research on thermoelectric cooling nanomaterials in Dr. Ahmed’s engineering lab, and I am beginning to work on what eventually will be my senior research project with Dr. Wang in the chemistry department. I also work for the lab manager for the chemistry department to help prep teaching labs.

What was your reaction when you learned that you received the Bertrand scholarship?
I was extremely thankful for receiving the scholarship, as it is one of many factors that made it possible for me to achieve my goal of higher education. It is because of generous donors that I am able to attend SIU and receive the education and research experience that I’ve dreamed of. I will always be grateful to Gary and Marsha Bertrand for making this possible.

What does receiving the Bertrand scholarship mean to you? What difference did it make in your life?
All my finances are in my name since my family cannot provide any financial help, therefore I solely take care of them. When I was beginning my hunt for a higher education institution, it was difficult to find an institution with the degree and programs I wanted without having a high price. I was extremely fortunate to receive scholarships because without them I would not have been able to afford my degree at any university.  This includes this scholarship as well. Without it, my education would not have been able to be funded, which would have made it financially impossible for me to attend SIU.

How has the donor’s generosity impacted your view on your education and goals for the future?
It is because of generous donors that students are able to achieve their goals and make a difference in the world. After being able to achieve my goals through the help of donors and scholarships, I would like to one day do the same. The impact a donor has on a student’s life is monumental and after being on the receiving end I want to eventually be on the giving end.

How will the Bertrand scholarship help you make a difference in society?
My career goal is to lead research in solar technology to achieve efficient, resilient, and affordable solar cells. This goal cannot be achieved without first obtaining my education and research experience. My bachelor’s degree is just one of the many educational steps I am taking to obtain my desired career. Without this scholarship, my path to this career would have been very unstable, if not nonexistent.

Do you have a message that you would like to share with Mr. and Mrs. Bertrand?Thank you for your financial support to SIU students.  Without you, many students dreams and ambitions would remain just that. Education is a fulfilling part of a person that cannot be taken away but its obtainment can be impossible due to financial status.  It is because of you that this student can accomplish her dreams and she will always be thankful for that.

Why should donors consider establishing a scholarship fund for students?
Unfortunately, the world is not funded on grit alone. Just like research, a valuable education must be funded in some way, shape or form. There are many individuals who want to obtain a higher education but cannot afford it. They then settle for less than their dreams and the world loses out on an individual who can make a difference. Investing in students and the differences they will make is one of the greatest investments someone could ever make.

Has receiving this scholarship inspired you to give back to SIU in the future?
There will always be an individual who believes they cannot afford their dreams. With an increase in lower income families and rising college prices, investing in students is going to become more and more important. As someone who’s life was changed by a donor, I plan on one day returning the favor. I know the gut dropping feeling of seeing the average yearly price of an institution and it being more than what your house is worth. I never want to see a hardworking individual turn away from their hopes and ambitions because of a price.

How would you like to support SIU students in the future?
There are many ways to help SIU and future students, but the most probable way I would contribute is through a scholarship fund. It is because of these that I have been able to attend SIU, and I know others will be in the same position.


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Donor honors family with endowment

By Jeff Wilson and Rebecca Renshaw

When Jason Kane’s parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2017, he decided it was the perfect time to honor their legacy.

With a $25,000 endowment, he created the Scott and Lynn Kane Family Scholarship. It benefits students in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts.

Scott Kane graduated from SIU in 1967 with a degree in radio and television. He went on to serve on the Communications Alumni Board and be honored as the college’s Alumnus of the Year.

“My father made a difference at SIU,” Jason said.

During his time at SIU, Scott was a part of an expanding radio/TV department. His experience left him with fond memories of the university.

“The education was hands-on, and the students had great relationships with the instructors,” he said. “There was amazing success coming out of SIU. It had reach around the world.

The endowment will cement Scott and Lynn’s legacy at SIU, Jason said.

“It will allow students to know who my father was,” he said. “It’s tangible and meaningful. It impacts future generations. It’s a way to honor their legacy that goes into perpetuity.”

Jason’s mother, Lynn, is not an SIU alumna, but Jason said her impact was just as important.

“She stood by my dad the entire time,” Jason (pictured, far right, with his parents and other family members) said. “He was able to do the things he did because of her.”

“If people have dreams and goals, how do they reach them without an education?” Lynn said.

To learn more about the Forever SIU campaign, visit


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