Clubhouse 145 donates $3,500 to the Dawg Pound

Clubhouse 145 presents check for $3,500 to the Dawg Pound.
From left: Emma Buesing, Dawg Pound executive vice president, Malayna Russell, Dawg Pound vice president of gameday operations, Jacob Bryant, vice president of gameday operations, Sean Cooney, Dawg Pound advisor, Jacob Vezensky, Office of Student Engagement graduate assistant, Zipper Brandhorst, Clubhouse 145 member, Tyler Lawrence, outgoing Dawg Pound chief of operations, Dylan Chambers, outgoing Dawg Pound president, Corey Crombar, Dawg Pound president-elect, Steve Falat, Clubhouse 145 member, Rick Runge, Clubhouse 145 member, Jolene Falat, Clubhouse 145 member, Tim Leonard, SIU athletic director, Matt Kupec, vice chancellor for development and alumni relations, and Byron Hetzler, Clubhouse 145 member, pose for a photo in the Banterra Center.

By Jeff Wilson

Saluki fans are good at lots of things, but for Clubhouse 145 the main three are cheering on the Dawgs, keeping the party going after the game, and giving back to the university.

The group recently donated $3,500 to the Dawg Pound. Last year, it donated $3,000 to the Balancing Education, Experience, and Reality (B.E.E.R.) Scholarship.

Clubhouse 145, named after the Banterra Center parking space at which they congregate after Saluki football and basketball games, has become a tradition like no other. Started a few years ago by Mike Austin, Rick Runge, Zipper Brandhorst, and Steve Falat, members of the group enjoy a cocktail and some Saluki pride after the games. Many others have become regulars at Clubhouse 145.

“It’s grown beyond our initial expectations,” said Falat. “Our goal is to have fun and show support for SIU and Saluki Athletics.”

Anyone is welcome to join the party, and the group accepts donations during their after-game gatherings. Of course, it takes regular participation to become an official member of Clubhouse 145, which includes branded hats and polos.

The support for the Dawg Pound comes at a moment when the registered student organization is more involved than ever before. Led by SIU senior Dylan Chambers, the Dawg Pound has become the largest RSO on campus. Chambers, who will graduate in May and is a member of Clubhouse 145, is handing the reins over to new Dawg Pound President Corey Crombar.

“Seeing this kind of support just shows how special the SIU community is,” said Crombar, an SIU freshman and Carbondale Community High School graduate. “It’s going to help greatly with travel expenses, giveaways, shirts, and so much more. We’re so thankful to Clubhouse 145.”

The Dawg Pound presents Clubhouse 145 with a lifetime membership.

Chambers also presented the members of Clubhouse 145 with an Honorary Lifetime Membership to the Dawg Pound.

For Sydney Mott, scholarships help bridge the gap from SIC to SIU


Sydney Mott, Saline County
Sydney Mott, Saline County

By Jeff Wilson

Sydney Mott’s experience with Southern Illinois University and its College of Business and Analytics started with a great first impression.

When transferring from Southeastern Illinois College, she was considering Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and the University of Southern Indiana.

“I knew I wanted to stay close to home,” she said. “I met Rachel Richey (coordinator of recruitment and retention for COBA) and Benna Williams (assistant lecturer in COBA), and I knew I was going to come to Carbondale. I didn’t even visit USI.”

The Harrisburg High School graduate and Eldorado native knew early on that she wanted to become a certified public accountant and pursue a career with the federal or state government.

“My parents both worked as correctional officers, and I knew I wanted retirement security,” Mott said. “I always loved math, and I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I took an accounting class at SIC and got a job at Kemper CPA Group in Harrisburg, and it all just clicked.”

During her time at SIU, Mott has received multiple scholarships, including the Bill and Barbara Beck Accounting Scholarship, Kenneth J. and Jacqueline M. Hull/Illinois CPA Society Accounting Scholarship, and the Robert and Patricia Sforza Memorial Scholarship.

“When you add them up, these scholarships take the load off,” she said. “Even though donors may not always see the people they support, it’s important to know that student success may not be possible without those donations. It’s helping students not just in school, but it’s helping them find a job and further their lives.”

The adjustment from community college to SIU has been smoother because of the people Mott has met along the way.

“Coming in as a transfer student, you’re being placed in a completely different world,” she said. “SIU has been great. I’ve made great friends. The people in the College of Business and Analytics want to see you succeed.”

Carbondale’s Hardley finds his path at SIU

Simeon Hardley, Jackson County
Simeon Hardley, Jackson County

By Jeff Wilson

Attending SIU wasn’t originally the plan for Simeon Hardley when he graduated from Carbondale Community High School in 2017.

He went to John A. Logan Community College and earned his associate degree, but he decided to take some time off while he figured out what he wanted to do.

“Naturally, I think kids want to get away from home,” Hardley said. “When I decided to pursue my bachelor’s degree, my support system was here. I grew up a big Salukis fan, and SIU felt like home. It’s a great place to grow and develop as a person.”

Hardley was worked with video, but it was taking a class with Julia Rendleman, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Advertising, that led him to choose a path in photojournalism.

“I just fell in love with it,” he said. “That class propelled me in this direction. I’m going to specialize in sports media.”

His journey has led him to a fellowship with the Pulitzer Center in Washington, D.C. After making the trip to the nation’s capital, Hardley stayed in Illinois and focused his work for the Pulitzer Center on the city of Cairo, Illinois.

Recently, he received the Linda K. Henson Photojournalism Scholarship, and he expressed his thankfulness for the financial relief scholarships provide.

“It plays a huge role,” he said. “It puts the idea in the back of your mind that someone trusts you and believes in you. It is so appreciated. It helped motivate me to finish school.”

Hardley said being from Carbondale and going to SIU has opened his eyes to the importance of alumni support.

“SIU has so many accomplished alumni, from athletes to producers, etc.,” he said. “Scholarships like mine show how connected our alumni are to students and the community.”

Lester follows call to serve from Cairo to SIU

Malia Lester, Alexander County
Malia Lester, Alexander County

By Jeff Wilson

Malia Lester wants to help people the way scholarships donors have helped her.

While attending high school in Cairo, Illinois, Malia’s life was changed forever by tragedy. After getting her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Eastern Illinois University, she’s now pursuing master’s degree in social work from SIU.

“My high school boyfriend committed suicide, and that led to questions about why it happened,” she said. “He needed someone to talk to, and I knew I wanted to make sure others had someone they can trust.”

Lester received the C.L. Pete & Margaret Odum Memorial Scholarship, and the timing was particularly meaningful.

“I’m living at home right now to save money. My dad passed away in 2021, and he had been contributing to my education,” she said. “The scholarship took a lot of financial stress off me. It felt like a sign. It felt like someone was looking out for me.”

Lester is an intern at Johnson, Alexander, Massac, Pulaski (JAMP) Special Education Services, which also has a bit of special meaning to her.

“When I was in high school, there was a junior high student who wouldn’t calm down until she talked to me,” she said. “She was a JAMP student. I’m going to miss my first set of kids when my internship ends.”

She and her fiancé plan to move to Charleston after graduation, and that’s where she hopes to begin a long career helping people in need.

“Honestly, I don’t care where I end up as long as I’m doing something I love,” she said.

The support she received from SIU and its donors is something that will stick with her well beyond her time as a student.

“It’s awesome that alumni donate,” she said. “It took so much financial stress off my shoulders. As a first-generation student, I was figuring it out on my own.”

Hamilton County’s Vaughan sought big golf dreams, family atmosphere

Kylee Vaughan, Hamilton County
Kylee Vaughan, Hamilton County

By Jeff Wilson

Kylee Vaughan is living her dream – playing college golf close to home.

The McLeansboro native and Hamilton County High School graduate is a junior at SIU and has received multiple athletic scholarships, including the Diane Daugherty Women’s Golf Team Scholarship, Jane Tally Phelps Athletic Scholarship, and Banterra Bank Scholarship.

“I started playing golf when I was 6 years old, usually at the golf course in McLeansboro or at Green Hills in Mount Vernon,” she said. “My mom and dad are high school golf coaches at Hamilton County, and my brother played at John A. Logan and Rend Lake College.”

Vaughan, now a junior, chose SIU over Murray State, citing the coaching staff and the university’s small-town feel as the deciding factors.

“My time at SIU has been great,” she said. “It’s like one big family. Everything from coaches to the support staff … it’s been a great experience.”

An exercise science major, Vaughan’s academic goals have evolved, and she’s now planning a future as a pharmacist.

“Scholarships have helped me focus on my schoolwork and getting my practices in,” she said. “Being a student-athlete is a major commitment, and time management is important if you’re going to fit everything in.”

Beyond scholarships, donors are vital to every Saluki athletic program. Funds are used to support equipment and facility upgrades, travel costs, uniforms, and more.

The impact donors have on individual students, the university, and thus, the entire region is obvious to Vaughan.

“It’s really important to give back,” she said. “You’re helping someone who’s in the same position you were in as a student. Donors make such a big difference.”

Scholarship guides the way for future educator from Pulaski County

Kaylee Rose, Pulaski County
Kaylee Rose, Pulaski County

By Jeff Wilson

Kaylee Rose graduated from SIU in December and is now teaching second grade at Lick Creek Elementary School.

“My mom and dad went to SIU, and my mom told me how great her SIU experience was,” she said.

The Olmsted native attended Pulaski County High School and then Shawnee Community College before transferring to SIU. She enrolled in the School of Education, following in her mother’s footsteps as a teacher and administrator. It was then that she received financial assistance, including the Donald E. Starzyk Family Scholarship.

“That scholarship helped me a lot,” Rose said. “I didn’t have to come up with the money myself or find student loans. I think it’s amazing that alumni decide to give back. They can choose to spend that money on anything they desire, but they’ve decided to help someone get through college.”

Teaching in a small school district has also further emphasized the need for funding and community support.

“Funding is the No. 1 issue at every school, especially in small districts like Lick Creek,” she said. “Starting out, teachers are severely underpaid, so not having student loan debt is important. The schools themselves require more funding, more community involvement. I’m grateful for my strong community. There are always people willing to help.”

While her time at SIU is over, Rose said she will look back on her time with great fondness because of the support she received and the experience she had.

“I loved my time at SIU. I gained friends that I have to this day,” she said. “I already miss being on campus.”

Donors make tremendous impact on Perry County’s Winter

Ink Winter, Perry County
Ink Winter, Perry County

By Jeff Wilson

The scholarships that Ink Winter has received have strengthened their bond to SIU since transferring from Rend Lake College.

Studying Japanese and German in SIU’s College of Liberal Arts, Winter has been awarded the Collins Family Saluki Scholarship and Helmut and Marry Liedloff in German Scholarship.

“It kind of warms my heart,” Winter said. “I’ll look more fondly on my time at SIU because of these scholarships. Someday I want to give back to people in a similar way.”

Despite commuting from Du Quoin, the Pinckneyville Community High School graduate is heavily involved both on and off campus. They are the secretary of two organizations, the Saluki Rainbow Network and Alternative Lifestyles, Identities, and Sexualities (ALIAS), and are also a COLA senator in the Undergraduate Student Governement and member of the Saluki Tabletop Gaming RSO.

“My scholarships prevent me from needing to take out student loans. If I didn’t have them, I would need a full-time job, which wouldn’t allow me to be so involved,” Winter said. “I work part-time now, so I’m thankful for the freedom scholarships offer.”

Winter plans to attend graduate school at SIU and study linguistics with a focus on Japanese.

“After graduation, I hope to travel and study the impact of bilingualism in certain areas,” they said.

Scholarships drive Metropolis’ Sparks forward

Dorian Sparks, Massac County
Dorian Sparks, Massac County

By Jeff Wilson

Saluki spirit runs deeply in Dorian Sparks’ family. Her grandmother attended SIU, and her parents met while SIU students.

“A lot of people from Metropolis go to Murray State,” said Sparks, a Massac County High School graduate. “I figured out my junior year of high school that SIU made the most sense for me.”

During her journey, she received two scholarships, one from the Friends of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and the other from the Society for Civil Discourse.

“The Paul Simon Institute scholarships provided me with a cushion going into college,” Sparks said. “The Society for Civil Discourse scholarship came as I was going into the end of the semester and had $1,500 on my bursar bill to pay off. It helped me avoid taking out student loans.”

Sparks originally came to SIU for the health care management program, but she recently changed majors and is now pursuing her degree in nursing.

“I still love health care management, but I’m really excited,” she said. “I’m a certified nursing assistant now, but I want to become a registered nurse.”

The scholarships have created a connection with her school and its alumni. Being from Southern Illinois has just made it all that much more special.

“So often it seems like people want you to go to college, but that’s all they want to do,” she said. “Our alumni pride themselves on the fact they went to SIU. It makes me feel really supported here. Thank you to everyone who helps. It’s going to push me to keep going.”

Gallatin County scholarship recipient: SIU is special, it’s home

Chloe Dennison, Gallatin County
Chloe Dennison, Gallatin County

By Jeff Wilson

Saluki spirit has been part of Chloe Dennison’s life from an early age.

“I’m a third-generation Saluki,” she said. “My grandma and both parents went to SIU. For my second Halloween, I was an SIU football player. It was ingrained from early on that SIU was the place for me.”

Although she’s originally from Raleigh, Illinois, she attended Gallatin County High School, where her mother was a teacher. When SIU introduced its nursing program a few years ago, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

“I wanted to be one of the early classes in the nursing program,” Dennison said. “I received lots of scholarships, including the SIU Nursing Start-up Scholarship, which made it a no-brainer.”

The financial support she received allowed her to avoid student loans and gave her extra appreciation for her time as an SIU student.

“I am extremely grateful. Alumni and donors have changed my life,” she said. “I have always been afraid of student loans, and these scholarships have allowed me to dedicate myself to being the best student and the best nurse I can be.”

She will graduate with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and work as a registered nurse. She hopes to work locally in a neonatal intensive care unit or pediatric intensive care unit. She also plans to pursue her master’s and become an acute care pediatric nurse practitioner.

“I’m not ready to leave Southern Illinois quite yet,” Dennison said. “The SIU community is so tightly knit. Everyone on campus wants to build you up. When I go places and see people with SIU shirts on, I make a point to go up and talk to them. It’s extremely rewarding to see how far SIU can send you.

“For the past three years, I’ve lived in Abbot Hall and met three of the most incredible people who have become my best friends. I know there are people out there that give SIU a bad rep, and I want them to know they are completely wrong. It’s a family. It’s really special. It’s home.”

Saluki Ball raises funds that bridge the gap for students

Chancellor Austin Lane speaks at the Saluki Ball.
Chancellor Austin Lane speaks Saturday, April 20, during the Saluki Ball at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk hotel.

More than 500 attend second annual fundraiser

By Jeff Wilson

The second annual Saluki Ball was a spectacular example of the generous nature of the Saluki spirit.

Attended by 520 SIU alumni and friends, the ball was hosted by Chancellor Austin Lane and the SIU Foundation on Saturday, April 20, at the Sheraton Grand Chicago Riverwalk hotel in Chicago. The funds raised benefit students who need assistance with their bursar bills to ensure they can stay enrolled in classes at SIU.

“Our focus here tonight is on our students, especially those who need your help the most,” Lane said. “Increasing our enrollment to 15,000 students by 2030 – as established by our strategic plan – requires not only efforts in recruitment but retention.”

Guests Julie Guida, Lynn McPheeters, and SIU Foundation Board of Directors President Diane Compardo, and her husband, Ron Wienstroer, pledged $20,000 apiece during the fundraising portion of the event. Many others donated amounts ranging from $10,000 to $100. McPheeters was also the Platinum Sponsor for the event, donating $25,000 beforehand.

Lane honored three alumni with the Saluki Lifetime Achievement Award – Greg Cook, Scott Moller, and Toni Williams.

Cook, who founded Cook Portable Warehouses with his father, attended SIU in the 1970s and has been a supporter of the university for decades. He has made significant contributions to Saluki Athletics, the School of Aviation, Touch of Nature Outdoor Education Center, and much more.

“I was always surrounded by a tremendous group of people,” he said. “It’s all about the giving of their time, talent, and treasure. I’m accepting the award not only on my behalf but also on behalf of all those who work behind the scenes and do so much for the university. It’s not just me, it’s a group of people coming together.”

Moller ’85 ’19 is the president-elect of the SIU Alumni Association Board of Directors. He has contributed to SIU in many ways. He and his sister, Julie Guida, donated $500,000 to the Alumni Association, and the Guida Moller Family Alumni Center was named in their honor. He has also contributed to the Saluki Alumni Plaza project and established scholarships in both the College of Business & Analytics and the College of Arts and Media.

“My journey is that of an unlikely college student who discovered his passion at SIU and put it to work to achieve professional success,” he said. “I meet Salukis regularly who express that something about SIU transformed them. It is a special place.”

After a 10-year career in the Chicago Public Schools system, Williams opened the Children’s Center for Creative Learning, which provides a nurturing and creative learning environment for children ages 6 months to 6 years. She is also the only Black women who currently owns and operates a McDonald’s franchise in Illinois and a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

“This honor is a celebration of my life’s work and a validation of the collective effort and dedication of all those who have been a part of my personal and professional journey,” she said. “Moreover, this honor is a testament of our beloved university and how SIU has always led the pack in a diverse, inclusive and equitable manner.”

Two SIU seniors were recognized with the Saluki Success Award during the Saluki Ball. Emily Bakri, vice president of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), and Dylan Chambers, president of the Dawg Pound and vice president of student affairs in the USG, accepted their awards from Chancellor Lane, President Dan Mahony, and Compardo.

Marc Silverman ’93, who co-hosts the popular daily radio show “Waddle & Silvy” on ESPN 1000, was the emcee, and Steve Falat hosted the fundraising portion of the evening. The crowd also heard speeches from Lane, Mahony, Compardo, and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton.

The night was capped with a live performance by legendary R&B group En Vogue.