April 11, 2007

Student overcomes adversity to earn honors

by Sun Min


Jene A. Pulliam

CARBONDALE, 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

Just Read!

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

St. Louis.

"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.