Benton’s Bayless thankful for scholarship support

Peyton Bayless, Franklin County
Peyton Bayless, Franklin County

By Jeff Wilson

From an early age, Peyton Bayless has seen the impact SIU can have on local families and students.

“Both of my parents went to SIU,” said Bayless, a Benton Consolidated High School graduate. “My mom came back to school when I was little, so I came with her and grew up around campus.”

Studying elementary education, he plans to graduate in the Fall of 2025 and begin his career as an elementary school teacher. He also hopes to stay in Southern Illinois after graduation.

“I have had a great experience at SIU,” Bayless said. “All my teachers are really support. My classmates have been really great.”

Scholarships have played a significant role in his journey. He has received the Leo J. Brown Teacher Education Scholarship, Melinda and Pete LaBarre Elementary Education Scholarships, and the Roye R. and Floralee Q. Bryant Education Scholarship.

“Taking all the necessary steps to apply for the scholarships was a long process, but it was definitely worth it,” Bayless said. “They have helped me be able to get the experience that I need.”

Teaching candidates in the School of Education spend their entire final semester as student-teachers, which requires full days in local classrooms. Students aren’t paid for this work, and many require extra financial support.

“That last semester is five days a week of student teaching. The only time you can work a paid job is at night, and that’s after a full day of working in a classroom,” he said. “Scholarships show that people really care. They’ve been in my shoes, so they know the financial burden that exists. They know how much it takes, and they’re helping future teachers.”

Being an SIU student a Southern Illinois resident, the impact of his scholarships means a little extra to Bayless.

“If you’re lucky enough to receive a scholarship, it can change your life,” he said. “Someday I’ll look back at the great things that came from my experiences, and I really hope I can give back and offer those experiences to others.”

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