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.