AT&T contribution assists students

AT&T contribution assists students -- Paul La Schiazza, AT&T Illinois president, discusses a $50,000 contribution that assisted some incoming SIU Carbondale freshman students receive an early introduction to math- and science-related fields through the Saluki Summer Bridge to Success program.  With Schiazza, from left are freshmen Brian Laurore and Kelly Meloy, Student Support Services Director Renada D. Greer, Interim Chancellor Paul D. Sarvela, and SIU President Randy J. Dunn. (Photo by Steve Buhman)

August 26, 2014

AT&T contribution expands student opportunities

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Some incoming freshman students at Southern Illinois University Carbondale enjoyed an early introduction to math- and science-related fields through the Saluki Summer Bridge to Success program thanks to a contribution from AT&T. 

A $50,000 contribution from AT&T enabled 26 incoming freshmen to attend the intense two-week, on-campus residential program in July and receive comprehensive academic support in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).   They were among the 52 total participants in the Summer Bridge Program. 

“We are appreciative of the tremendous support AT&T has given to this valuable program, which has allowed us to nearly double participation in this important initiative and expand an emphasis in the critically important STEM fields,” said Paul D. Sarvela, interim chancellor. “Giving students the opportunity to develop the academic and personal skills required for success in these four fields will boost their confidence as they continue throughout their collegiate career.” 

By focusing on holistic and student-centered programs and services, Saluki Summer Bridge serves as a transitional experience helping all students become acclimated to the university’s educational environment and expectations. Students interested in math and science-related fields are prepared to then transition into STEM-related majors and less likely to change their academic choice. 

The AT&T contribution covered students’ housing, meals and textbooks. 

“While our company’s business is delivering connections through new technologies, we’re also truly committed to investing in the next generation of workers, dreamers and leaders.  In order to be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow, AT&T is investing to benefit Illinois students today,” said Paul La Schiazza, AT&T Illinois President.  “We’re proud to support the Saluki Summer Bridge to Success Program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the great potential of these young students.”

Renada D. Greer, Student Support Services director, said the program’s purpose is to give students a structure “very similar to what they will experience in the fall.” Students spend from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day in the classroom, including two hours in the library.  

“The academic rigor of STEM programs continue to be one of the biggest challenges for students entering STEM fields, especially for students who enter with varying levels of academic preparation,” Greer said. 

“The purpose of the SIU STEM Bridge to Success program is to provide support that will enhance student achievement in science, technology, engineering, and math and also increase participation of minorities in STEM fields,” she said.  

The experience allows incoming students to feel comfortable with the school, returning to campus and being successful until the time they graduate, Greer said. 

Two students predicted the program would help ease their transition to college. The fall 2014 semester began Aug. 18. 

“Summer Bridge was a great program because it allowed me to come to a large campus as a freshman and feel extremely comfortable with buildings, locations, classroom expectations, and a community of friends," said Brian Laurore, a mechanical engineering major from Nashville, Tenn. 

Kelly Meloy, a freshman business major from Chicago, predicted she could already see herself fitting in “very well at Southern.” 

“Just from being in the Summer Bridge program I have met many new people who have shown me new and exciting things. As I start my freshman year, I will be experiencing new classes, new people, new groups and difficulties. I am happy to say that one of my difficulties will not be fitting into my school.” 

This is the most recent collaboration between SIU Carbondale and AT&T.  In September 2013, the university and AT&T collaborated on “It Can Wait,” an anti-texting while driving campaign.