April 29, 2009

Three named to All-USA College Academic Team

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is again represented in the pages of a national newspaper that selects an elite group of top students every year.

This time, however, SIUC has not just one, but three students on the team.

The students are part of the 2009 All-USA College Academic Team selected and published this morning (April 29) by USA Today. Just 60 students nationwide make the team, with another 20 selected for honorable mention, from a field of hundreds. SIUC has two members on the second team and one receiving honorable mention.

SIUC is one of only five universities nationally with three students on the team. The others are Florida State University, Harvard University, Louisiana State University and the United States Naval Academy. Only one university -- Alabama -- has more than three students on the team; Alabama has six. Nine universities have two students on the team, including Brown, Northwestern, North Carolina and Yale.

The program honors full-time undergraduates who excel in scholarship and extend their abilities beyond the classroom to benefit society. Judges rated applicants based on grades, academic rigor, leadership, activities and an essay describing their most outstanding intellectual endeavor. All wrote about their undergraduate research activities.

SIUC students on the team are:

• Lisa Furby, a junior in mechanical engineering from Carbondale, second team. Furby is the daughter of Thomas H. and Leanne M. Furby of Carbondale.

• Sean Goodin, a senior majoring in physiology and philosophy from Red Bud, second team. Goodin is the son of Loretta Goodin, of Red Bud.

• Joe Batir, a senior in geology from Channahon, honorable mention. Batir is the son of Sonia and Greg Nagel, of Channahon.

Laurie A. Bell, assistant director of the University Honors Program at SIUC, said the students have earned a great honor and again brought national recognition to the University.

“These are outstanding students and we are extremely proud of their efforts and accomplishments,” Bell said. “We’ve always had great students here at SIUC, but it’s become a matter of identifying them early and challenging them so that they have time to build the kind of resume they need to put them among the best in the nation. They don’t have just good resumes, they are great resumes.”

The three students join SIUC’s other lone USA Today team member, Fahran Robb, of Pinckneyville. Robb was a member of the 2006 third team and received honorable mention on the 2007 team.

Furby said she felt frozen upon hearing the news.

“I was literally in shock,” she said. “This is such a big honor and there are so many people I have to thank. This never would have happened without their help here at the University.”

Furby was well deserving of the honor, Bell said. The Illinois Technology Foundation recently selected Furby as one of its “50 for the Future” competition winners, which identifies future leaders in the technological fields. As a sophomore, Furby also represented SIUC at a bioinformatics and bioengineering conference at Harvard Medical School.

“She has done tremendous work,” Bell said.

Goodin said making the team is an unexpected honor.

“I was very surprised and honored,” said Goodin, who is applying to medical school this summer. “I definitely did not think I would make the team.”

Bell said Goodin is a standout volunteer as well as top student

“He’s done 900 hours with AmeriCorps and 300 hours volunteering at the African-American Museum here in town,” Bell said.

Batir, who recently won a Fulbright scholarship to study geothermal energy in Iceland, is also a past winner of the Morris K. Udall Foundation scholarship. He said he had given up on the USA Today honor before finding out recently he was selected.

“When I found out there were three of us from SIUC I was ecstatic,” Batir said. “To get three of us on there is just amazing. I’m very happy for Lisa and Sean.”

Bell said Batir and the others readily take on challenges.

“They maintain outstanding GPAs while showing leadership skills, volunteering and taking 23 or 24 hours per semester,” Bell said. “They don’t back down from involvement.”

Lisa FurbySean GoodinJoe Batir