Chelesea Lewellen is a Ph.D. student from Chicago studying education. She is a Marita A. Weaver Scholarship and Wayne S. Ramp Vocational Education Endowed Scholarship recipient.
Why did you choose SIU?
SIU has the benefit of close proximity to major metropolitan areas (Chicago and St. Louis) with a distinctive small-town feel. I appreciate the history SIU has to offer of being both an educational institution with a significant diverse student body alongside a feel-good approach to school-life balance. As a former SIU student, I enjoyed the far-reaching spirit of being a Saluki and encountered alumni both locally and nationally during my travels. SIU encourages the potential and challenges you to rethink authority, information, personal beliefs and trends. This institution inspires individual pontificate and creates thinkers. I returned to SIU to further embrace that spirit of education and atmosphere of positive change.
What inspired you to choose your area of study?
I chose to pursue a degree in education because education is the cornerstone of life. Whether one is seeking personal enhancement or professional development, education is the key component needed to realize one’s goal. Education is not terminal but a journey wherein the student acquires new knowledge, discards long-held assumptions and/or improves upon their knowledge base. Education is not terminal and continues long after a degree is earned or retirement reached. I find it thrilling to participate in such a vibrant area of study and continue my own never-ending path of knowledge and hope to inspire others to continue in an unending pursuit of knowledge.
What is your most memorable experience at SIU?
My most memorable experience at SIU occurred during my return to pursue my current degree. During graduate student orientation, Dr. Lee, then dean of the Graduate School, told us about the awesome responsibility and the exciting future graduate school held for each of us. His passion was not only evident, it was also infectious. I walked away from that orientation with an increased sense of the support that was available to me and eager to start my program of study. Each and every time I encountered Dean Lee, I felt a renewed sense of motivation. His warmth and sincerity is sorely missed.
Could you tell us about the impact of the scholarship on your education at SIU and your life in general?
Both scholarships are extremely generous and helped to offset the cost of pursuing my degree. As a graduate student, books, supplies and the cost of living is exceptional. The addition of these two scholarships reduced the out-of-pocket financial contribution and allowed me to refocus my finances and time towards other areas. I was able to relax and study without the distraction of an upcoming bursar payment. It helped both with my time and peace of mind; I am immensely grateful.
Why should people consider donating to SIU?
People should consider donating to SIU to contribute to the continued efforts to educate our society and help financially challenged students pursue their degrees. Financial burdens prevent far too many from pursuing advanced degrees. Additionally, the confidence boost a recipient feels is tangible. Donations are the gift that keeps on giving, and an investment in another person who otherwise may not be able to pursue a long-held dream of higher education.
If you had $1,000 to donate to SIU, what would you like to see that money benefit? Why?
If I had $1,000 to contribute to SIU, I would like to see the money awarded to an underserved and deserving student. Oftentimes, money is the one determining factor that prevents students from seeking advanced degrees. Investing in a student could ease the burden of fiscal concern and enable the distraction of making ends meet to be directed toward self-improvement. Small investments have the benefit of a huge return and the result is often invaluable.