April 11, 2007
Student overcomes adversity to earn honorsCARBONDALE, Ill. – Jene A. Pulliam of Rockford has experienced more
than her share of adversity in her young life.
The Southern Illinois University Carbondale College of Business and
Administration student was raised by a single mother, after her 18-year-
old brother was shot and killed in gang violence when she was 10 years
old and her father died of stomach and liver cancer when she was 13.
"I know that both of these events happened for a reason," Pulliam said.
"I am a better person today because of the events of my childhood."
Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Pulliam drew strength from her
This weekend, the senior majoring in finance will be recognized as one of
the "Most Distinguished Seniors" at SIUC. The
Southern Illinois University Alumni Association and Student Alumni
Council sponsor the annual awards ceremony, set for 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 14, in Student Center Ballroom D.
The Distinguished Senior Award is presented annually to 25 students who
enrich the University and Carbondale community through their service
activities. To qualify, students must complete a lengthy application
process, earn a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 and receive positive
recommendations from University and community officials.
Pulliam is a stellar student and a star volleyball player. She was
named to the Missouri Valley All- Conference Scholar-Athlete Team.
The busy student is also a volunteer for several community
organizations, including SIUC volleyball Camps, SIUC basketball camps and
That's not all. Next month, Pulliam will become the first person in her
family to graduate from college. "It's something I take great pride in
because I hope that it becomes a precedent in my family now and I hope
that what I am doing will be an inspiration to the rest of my family for
years to come," she said.
Since her husband passed away, Pulliam's mother, Kathy, has had heart
failure, a brain tumor and other ailments but her health problems will
not keep her away from the "Most Distinguished Seniors" banquet and
"My mother loves SIU," Pulliam said. "She's come and spent more than a
month here with me before and she loves her trips here. I know that my
brother and my father love the fact that I am at SIU also, because I
know that they can see that I have become a better person while here."
In so many ways, Jene's story exemplifies SIUC's long-standing mission. The University has a history of serving first-generation college students and a long-standing commitment to diversity.
Pulliam is grateful for the opportunities SIUC's business college have
given her. She is now deciding between job offers in Bloomington and
"I know that without the help of College of Business staff,
faculty and the Placement Center that would not be a possibility," she
Michael L. Haywood, the college's director of minority programs and undergraduate recruitment, said, "Jene is so driven. Her future looks so bright, you have to wear sunglasses."
U.S. News & World Report ranks SIUC's College of Business and Administration among the top 100 public business colleges nationwide. The school offers bachelor's,
master's and doctoral degrees – one of only three public institutions in
Illinois to do so. Through its fully accredited programs (by the
Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), students prepare
for challenging careers in business, industry, government and education.
For more information, visit www.cba.siu.edu.