young black man giving a presentation

Deon Craig, a Dr. Seymour Bryson Future Scholars Program participant from Cook County, Illinois, leads a discussion in a public speaking class at SIU this week.

July 13, 2022

Seymour Bryson Scholars get a jump start toward success by visiting SIU campus in July

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Deon Craig led a group of his peers in an upbeat discussion about the pros and cons of Wheaties, Trix, Cheerios and other cereals. They compared flavors, visual appeal and also discussed marketing and advertising techniques by the manufacturers during the public speaking class at Southern Illinois University Carbondale this week.

The young man from Cook County is among a group of 48 newly admitted Saluki students visiting the SIU campus this month for the immersive Dr. Seymour Bryson Future Scholars Program, which will give them a jumpstart on their college careers. The students are living on campus July 4-29, and during that time, they are taking three college courses for credit, complete with mentoring and tutoring assistance. They are also exploring the region, learning all about the services and programs available both on campus and off, getting acquainted with other students, faculty and staff, and taking educational enrichment trips.

Academically intensive

Craig said the public speaking class, a core curriculum course in the School of Communication Studies, as well as the English and University 101 (orientation) courses haven’t been easy. But all have been great learning experiences and he appreciates being able to earn eight college credit hours before he begins his freshman year in August.

His classmate Emma Garcia, of St. Charles, Illinois, said although it’s hard work and “intense” to cram that much study into four weeks’ time, the SIU faculty have been very supportive and helpful.

“The professors are very nice and open,” she said. “Mr. Jeff McGoy is such a great guy, too, and really helps us.”

The faculty are likewise impressed with the future scholars and their initiative and drive to succeed.

“These students always come to class very enthusiastic and engaged. They are excited to be a part of this program,” said Kevin McCarty, a doctoral candidate in communication studies and graduate teaching assistant for the public speaking class. “It’s an intense month for all of them but they are rising to the challenges of the program. It’s great that this program exists. I think everyone needs an opportunity to have a restart and be able to succeed in college, to be heard and have their needs met.”

History of fostering success, bigger than ever

The Future Scholars program was established in 1991 by the late Bryson, a triple alumnus of SIU who retired in 2008 as associate chancellor for diversity and Rehabilitation Institute professor. The goal is to provide extra tools for students who didn’t necessarily get the best grades in high school but have the potential to succeed in college. It also gives them a taste of university life before classes begin in the fall.

After a brief hiatus, the scholars program resumed in 2021 at the behest of Chancellor Austin Lane, with 28 participants and funding provided by the SIU Foundation. This year’s group of 24 women and 24 men is one of the largest ever to participate.

Throughout the month, the students are experiencing life as Salukis. They are living in student residential housing at Thompson Point as they complete their classes and learn their way around. They are participating in team-building activities, mandatory study sessions, and discovering the myriad resources available both on-campus and off.

In addition, they are getting the chance to meet campus and community partners, said Jeff McGoy, director of Exploratory Student Advisement, which coordinates the program.

“The goal is not only to give them a jump start on their academic careers at SIU but also to help start them on the pathway to career success,” McGoy said.

Expanding horizons

This year, a new element was added to the program. Each weekend, the participants are taking a field trip to a Midwest city for an educational and cultural enrichment experience. They visited the Arch and the Blues Museum in St. Louis on July 9. It was the first visit to the big city on the Mississippi for Craig, and he was impressed with the experience and what he learned.

The new Salukis will explore the Parthenon and Tennessee State Museum in Nashville Saturday, July 16, and their final trip on July 23 will take them to Memphis, Tennessee, where they will visit the National Civil Rights Museum. Garcia and the other Bryson Scholars said they really appreciate the “cool opportunities” the program is giving them.

Making connections

McGoy said the participants are also finding time to form new friendships and have some fun.

“I’m really enjoying meeting new people and experiencing everything about SIU and preparing to become a student here in the fall,” Craig said.

He and the other scholars are also getting acquainted with faculty, staff and administrators and exploring campus and the surrounding community, including touring/trying out the gym, pool and other facilities at the Student Recreation Center and visiting the Banterra Center, Saluki Stadium and much more.

Students who participated in the program last year are serving as counselors for this year’s program, McGoy noted, and they have helped develop some of the non-academic programming for the new Bryson Scholars.

The scholars say that they are grateful for the head start on their academic careers through the program, but they are equally appreciative of the chance to learn about the campus and resources and especially the chance to make connections.

“It’s really beneficial to meet so many people and connect with so many different personalities that everyone brings to the table,” Garcia said. “We’ve been able to make a lot of friends already and we’ve learned so much about what is happening here and what’s available, we can help our peers when school starts.”

Media Advisory

In coming weeks, reporters, photographers and news crews will find a variety of opportunities for engaging photos stories and videos of the Seymour Bryson Scholars on the SIU campus. Media are welcome:

  • Any weekday afternoon from noon to 1:50 p.m. in the Communications Building, Rooms 1018, 1020 and 1022, as the students will be participating in the communications studies class where they will give speeches and more.
  • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. at the tutoring Center in Morris Library, as participants are engaging with SIU faculty members and working on writing assignments and other activities.
  • July 15 at 6 p.m. as the students tour Saluki Stadium.
  • July 19 at 11 a.m. in Grinnell Hall as Chancellor Austin Lane hosts a luncheon for the Bryson Scholars.

All times/dates/locations are subject to change, depending on weather and other factors. For more information about the Dr. Seymour Bryson Future Scholars Program, or to confirm exact times and locations for specific events, contact Jeff McGoy, director of Exploratory Student Advisement, at 618-453-6807, 618-453-2422 or   


Emma Garcia, of St. Charles, Illinois, talks with her classmates in the public speaking class they are participating in during the monthlong Dr. Seymour Bryson Future Scholars Program at SIU. They are earning eight college credit hours taking this class and two others as they get a head start toward a successful university career. Photos by Russell Bailey