By Pete Rosenbery
CARBONDALE, Ill. — For Alexis Bergman, Brock Kabat and Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s other top scholars, the opportunity to excel in the classroom is due in part to a little white ball.
The annual SIU Carbondale Chancellor Academic Scholarship Golf Outing later this month is a critical component in attracting the best students to the University and helping them achieve their highest potential. Hosted by Chancellor Rita Cheng, the golf outing is Friday, May 18, at Hickory Ridge Public Golf Center in Carbondale.
“These scholarship recipients are outstanding role models in the classroom and in the community,” Cheng said. “Other institutions extend similar scholarship offers, and the support of our golfers and sponsors is critical to attracting these high-caliber students.”
Registration for the golf outing and event sponsorship are still available. The recommended registration deadline is May 9. Sponsorship information or tournament registration is available by contacting Barb Bogard with the SIU Foundation at 618/453-4914.
Bergman and Kabat are two of the current SIU Carbondale Chancellor Academic Scholarship recipients, and for both, the scholarships play an integral role in their current success and in what each hopes to accomplish. Bergman, a junior from Quincy, is a 2009 recipient. She is majoring in zoology with a minor in chemistry; her field of interest is marine biology with an emphasis on public outreach.
The scholarship enables her to “submerse myself in a passion that stretches far to the coast,” Bergman said.
The scholarship “has allowed me to pursue my true interest in marine biology,” she said. “Without the financial burdens of college, I was able to use my funds to travel to Gloucester, Mass., and intern for The Whale Center of New England, where I collected behavioral data on humpback whales and educated the public on the species and its conservation.
“This opportunity allowed me to learn about my field outside of the classroom and showed me that my true passion lies in educating the public about the creatures I love,” she said.
The University’s most prestigious scholarship covers in-state tuition, mandatory fees and double-occupancy room and board for four years. The competitive scholarship is worth approximately $80,000, and is renewable for all four years as long as students maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point average.
Kabat, also a 2009 recipient from Scheller, is a junior majoring in physiology with a minor in chemistry. He is interested in medical research, particularly oncology or cardiac care, and hopes to attend medical school to earn a Doctor of Medicine degree. Kabat is considering applying for National Institutes of Health-accredited Medical Scientist Training Programs to earn both an M.D. and doctorate to pursue clinical research.
Earning the scholarship “has been and continues to be critical to my success,” he said. “Being recognized and rewarded for being a scholar has motivated me to give my best effort in the classroom as a student and a model citizen for the community.”
Success in the classroom and in the community is a common theme among chancellor scholarship recipients. Three previous recipients — Lee Stewart, Jessica Stout and Jordan Kabat — earned national honors last week with their selection to the annual USA Today All-USA College Academic Team. Only 60 students nationwide earn the honor each year.
Many scholarship recipients also regularly earn the University’s “25 Most Distinguished Seniors” honor.
Approximately 100 scholarship semifinalists participated in interviews in February. The graduating high school seniors who comprise the 2012-2013 Chancellor Scholarship class will be at the golf outing to meet participants.
“This tournament is about the students,” said Bryan C. Vagner, assistant vice chancellor with the SIU Foundation. “This money is used to recruit the best and the brightest students to SIU Carbondale. Participants tell me this tournament is one of the best that they attend.”
710 Bookstore and Attitude Designs is an event sponsor. Randy Johnson, the general manager, said the scholarship highlights the University’s success. The business looked to provide something with a positive campus impact and the tournament sponsorship is a good fit, he said.
“There is nothing that affects us more than enrollment,” he said. “This event fits what we were looking for in two ways — providing financial support for students and providing a way to bring quality students to campus.”
Brock Kabat, the son of Mark and Lori Kabat of Scheller, chose SIU Carbondale over St. Louis University due to the scholarship’s financial aid, more research opportunities, and family tradition. He is the third generation to attend SIU Carbondale.
He is president of Scholars United in Making Major Impacts a Tradition (SUMMIT), a registered student organization for all presidential-chancellor scholars. He is also vice president of Kappa Alpha Order, a Greek social fraternity, and entertainment chair of “Up ‘til Dawn,” a collegiate fund-raising arm of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Kabat notes the University offers many great research opportunities to students interested in pursuing them. He has worked in the School of Medicine’s physiology department for three years researching the role of forkhead transcription factors in pituitary development. His research looks to “uncover the role of proteins responsible for cell death in pituitary organogenesis.”
Bergman, the daughter of David and Susan Bergman of Quincy, plans to go to graduate school and study marine biology. Becoming a scholarship recipient was a goal of hers since she was a high school freshman, and the impetus for working hard for her grades and active involvement in high school, Bergman said.
“It shaped me to be a leader and make a difference through the talents I have been given,” she said. “Seeing my actions and hard work pay off gave me such satisfaction and taught me that I can accomplish incredible things.”
She is involved in the Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge Program and has spent time during spring break building homes for low-income families. She is vice president of the Wildlife Society-Zoology Club, which participates in the annual Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge clean-up day, as well as Green Earth Inc., which helps to rebuild and manage trails. She is also the SUMMIT secretary and volunteers for “Up ‘til Dawn” each year.
Bergman said she chose SIU Carbondale because of the zoology program and the opportunity to “learn first-hand from the outdoor classroom that this campus is a part of,” adding the important opportunity to learn from “esteemed faculty who have supported and guided my undergraduate career.”
“I knew that I was not only going to learn about zoology from books, but also from Thompson Woods and Campus Lake,” Bergman said. “It was everything I hoped for in an institution, a school that cared as much about its environment and the ecosystems it supported as I did.”