March 24, 2022

Dinner with 12 Salukis offers networking for students, alumni

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale alumni recently shared a meal with nearly 200 students as part of the SIU Alumni Association’s Dinner with 12 Salukis program. 

Twenty-one groups of alumni and students had dinner in and around the Carbondale area, March 18-19. The Dinner with 12 Salukis program is designed to bring current students together with alumni to network and learn about different professions, as well as the role SIU played in shaping them. Alumni sign up to host up to 12 students for dinner either in their homes or at a local restaurant. This is the second year for the program, which follows the 2021 pilot year. 

Jeff Gleim, executive director of the SIU Alumni Association, said participation practically exploded for this year’s event. 

“It was amazing to see the reception both students and alumni had when we started planning,” Gleim said. “It goes to show that our students are eager to listen and learn from our alumni. Likewise, alumni never fail in sharing that Salukis-helping-Salukis spirit. We’re proud to have coordinated this effort, because everyone gets so much out of it.” 

Among the alumni hosts this year were SIU Carbondale alumni Wayne and Michelle Sirles of Alto Pass, Illinois. They co-own the popular Rendleman Orchards in Southern Illinois. Wayne also serves as a member of the alumni association’s national board of directors. 

“I just had so much success after going to SIU, I feel like it’s our duty to give back to our alma mater,” Michelle Sirles said. “We utilize the university and call upon our old departments there to help us when we need it, and we rely on students to help us in our retail. Mostly, we want them to have a good experience.” 

Isaiah Storey, a junior who attended a dinner with alumnus James Mayer of Mayer Networks, said the recent dinner was about branching out and tapping into the knowledge of alumni who have been where he is. 

“I always try something different, you always want to be different, you always want to learn more,” Storey said. “You never know everything, but I promise you if you utilize your resources you’ll definitely learn something new.” 

“Dinner with 12 Salukis” events are hosted during the spring semester each year. Alumni and students are encouraged to visit for more information about the program, as well as when registration for the 2023 program will begin.