July 22, 2021

Students receive 2021 SIU System Distinguished Service Awards

Four students from SIU Carbondale, including one each with the School of Law and School of Medicine, received the inaugural 2021 SIU System Distinguished Service Award at the SIU Board of Trustees meeting on July 15. In addition, seven students earned honorable mention and 12 other students were nominated.

The Southern Illinois University System, SIU Board of Trustees and the SIU System Student Advisory Board (SSAB) sought nominations of students who demonstrated an outstanding commitment to service benefiting their campus, their community and the SIU System. The SSAB received nominations from all of the campuses throughout the system and selected one undergraduate student and one graduate student from both the SIU Carbondale and SIU Edwardsville campuses and one student each from the SIU School of Law, SIU School of Medicine, SIU School of Dental Medicine and SIU School of Pharmacy.

The 2021 SIU System Distinguished Service Award recipients from SIU Carbondale, the SIU School of Law and SIU School of Medicine are:

  • Nelson Fernandes, senior, mechanical engineering. Fernandez is founder and project manager of the university’s Green Roof Project, which transformed an existing green space into a multidisciplinary innovation hub for experimental learning. Some of the project’s notable accomplishments are the installation of a smart irrigation system on the roofs, as well as the instillation of temporary wind turbines throughout campus that embrace renewable energy technology for the campus.
  • Otis Duncan, doctoral student, communication studies. Duncan states a personal motto that guides his life is “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” Duncan is the manager and board chair for the Rainbow Café LGBTQ Youth Center. He has helped hundreds of LGBTQ youth become healthy, proud young adults through outreach, education, and training. He has helped to bring pride to Southern Illinois both figuratively and literally by being one of the key organizers of the Southern Illinois Pridefest.
  • Daniel Asonye, third-year student, SIU School of Law. Asonye has participated with the SIU Law Journal and the school’s moot court board. He is active in student organizations and will serve as president of the Law School Democrats this year. He also is involved with the National Lawyers Guild Social Justice Initiative and during the fall 2020 semester was co-organizer of the “All Salukis Vote Initiative” that aimed to get as many local community members as possible registered to vote for the 2020 presidential election. 
  • Alexander Worix, SIU School of Medicine, 2021 graduate. Worix served in various leadership roles for the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) as well as president of the SIU School of Medicine’s SNMA chapter. He served as the social media coordinator for the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and as a volunteer for WhiteCoats4BlackLives. Alexander also notably served as a student coach for Student Hotspotting – a program that trains interdisciplinary teams of professional students to learn to work with clients with complex medical and social needs using patient-centered approaches. 

Seven SIU Carbondale students earned honorable mention. They are:

  • Bethany Peppers, graduate student, recently earning her master’s degree in higher education. Peppers spent her undergraduate and graduate student career serving in different roles on student government and multiple campuswide committees. One of her largest accomplishments was organizing Salukis in Springfield during the legislative lobby day.
  • Anna Wilcoxen, doctoral student, communication studies. Wilcoxen served as the president of Graduate Assistants United, the graduate student union, the past two years. This past year, she was the lead negotiator of the impact bargaining team for fall operations during COVID-19 pandemic. Wilcoxen has had an impactful voice on the working conditions of graduate students on the campus of SIU Carbondale.
  • Patrick Murphy, senior political science. Murphy is an extremely active student and has served on a variety of organizations and committees. He is president of the Omega Delta fraternity, has served as a senator on USG, was the past president of SIU’s United Nations Association and has had great involvement on local and statewide elections.
  • Vernecelyn Allen, a May 2021 aviation management graduate. Allen was a Chancellor’s Scholar and University Honors Program student. In 2018, Allen founded the SIU Chapter of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. She had a lead role in organizing the first Aviation Diversity Luncheon for the aviation program in 2020 and participated in the 2021 Air Race Classic, the only women’s air race in the nation.
  • Alyssa Roimiser, a May 2021 communication studies graduate. Roimiser was an extremely active student and served on an overwhelming number of organizations and committees. She was the president of the Student Alumni Council, the vice executive director of the Student Programming Council, and a member of the Emerging Salukis Leadership Program. In addition, one of her greatest impacts was serving first generation students through the First Saluki Center.
  • Theresa Kerouac, a May 2021 graduate in aviation management. Kerouac was the president and co-founder of the American Sign Language Club, as well as, the chapter president of the National Gay Pilots Association and the vice president for Alpha Eta Rho. In addition, she was the co-founder of the Aviation Diversity Luncheon in 2020.
  • Tristan Workman, senior in marketing. Workman serves as president of the Saluki Entrepreneur Corps and works at the Illinois Small Business Development Center. He also helped to create the first SIU virtual pitch competition in which students pitched their innovative ideas for the opportunity to win seed funding to advance their personal business plans. 

There were 12 other SIU Carbondale students nominated:

  • Jose D. Martinez-Herrera, doctoral student, education administration.
  • Cydney Goodrum, master’s student, communication disorders and sciences.
  • Chloe Goldbach, doctoral student, psychology.
  • Nathan Deatrick, junior, agribusiness economics.
  • Mackenzie Rosario, May 2021 graduate, cinema and photography.
  • Marissa Ivory, senior, exercise science.
  • Timothy McMeen, senior, special education.
  • Sandra Eversole, senior, history.
  • Angelina Kapp, senior, aviation flight.
  • Chelsea Mcgee, junior, German studies.
  • Leroy Jones, current master’s student and a recent graduate with a bachelor’s degree in health care enterprises and health care management.
  • Katya Saldana, senior, cinema and photography.