Expanded Opportunities— in the classroom and beyond
SIU alumni have a habit of making their mark in the world, many as innovators and entrepreneurs. They create their own opportunities—and create opportunities for others. One reason is that their time here at SIU taught them the habit of getting their hands dirty and making things happen.
Some of the most memorable lessons our students learn take place beyond the walls of the classroom. Through the SIU Alumni Association’s Externship program, more than 4,000 undergraduates have now completed spring break professional assignments—at Boeing or the Smithsonian, in fashion design or in the field with the EPA.
Back on campus, many students pursue impressive research projects, often as undergraduates. They take to the stage to perform and take to the skies to compete as national champion student pilots. They put themselves to work on the living lab of our 2,000-acre University Farms or build leadership through RSOs—our student-run campus organizations. On the athletics field, they hone strengths of character that will prove their value all life long.
For SIU engineering students, entering competitions that showcase their skills is something of a tradition. So is winning. This year, student-led teams placed first in the Mid-West region in both steel bridge and concrete canoe design competitions. Doing so, they honed abilities key to success in their profession: planning and problem-solving, communication and teamwork. Funds for supplies and travel help sustain the teams’ efforts, and fuel their ambitions to shine on the national stage.
Experiences like these are not just an exciting change of pace for our students, but often the most memorable and meaningful of their SIU years. They teach lessons in professionalism and leadership. They open students’ eyes to new possibilities.
Going forward, SIU is committed to providing more of our students with experiences that have this kind of transformative power.
In business, we want to make sure every undergraduate has the benefit of an internship. Through the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, we want to offer students the chance to travel for a semester to Springfield to work with a member of the Illinois General Assembly, researching issues and analyzing legislation. We intend to send more students to present their work at scholarly conferences, help more of them study abroad, and allow more of them to afford the opportunity of a summer of unpaid work so they can accept that outstanding internship.
In short, we want to multiply the number of options our Salukis have access to and minimize the financial obstacles that too often stand in their way.