March 20, 2023

Campus community invited to participate in Imagine Your Genius at SIU

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. –You may be under the antiquated notion that “genius” denotes a person of extraordinary, superior intelligence or creative ability. But an event set for SIU Carbondale next month instead argues that word applies to all of us.  

The everyday talent and creativity of the Saluki community will be on tap during the Imagine Your Genius Showcase, set for 5-8 p.m. April 6 at Shryock Auditorium. The event will feature students, staff and faculty showcasing their genius, skills, creativity, research and passion.  

All are invited to attend. Those SIU students, faculty, and staff interested in participating should plan on signing up at by March 31.  

The campuswide event celebrating the SIU community's diverse talents and abilities also aligns with the university’s Imagine 2030 strategic plan and its commitment to promoting engagement, collaboration and inclusivity among students, faculty and staff, said LaShonda M. Stewart, professor of public administration in the College of Business and Analytics, and director of the Chancellor’s Scholars Program. 

“The movement acknowledges that everyone has a genius within themselves that can be expressed through their passion, profession, art or talent,” Stewart said. “It also aims to promote inclusivity by breaking down traditional notions of genius and inspiring the SIU community to showcase their unique strengths and abilities by coming together and inspiring others to explore and develop their own potential.” 

The event will also provide students with an opportunity to display their leadership skills and abilities, Stewart said. 

“Several students are assisting with planning, organizing, developing, coordinating and budgeting the event, and they are doing a phenomenal job,” she said. 

bruce_george.jpgBruce George, founder of the Genius Is Common movement, will also be on hand for the SIU event, Stewart said. George, who also is co-founded of the award-winning Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry Jam on HBO, will speak and serve as a judge for the performances. 

“Genius manifests itself through each being’s own unique way of expressing their passion, be it their profession, their art, or their talent,” the movement’s website states. “Positioned to become a part of the American lexicon like Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ and Sprite’s ‘Obey Your Thirst,’ ‘Genius Is Common,’ in just a few words, levels the playing field of who is traditionally thought to be a genius.” 

George is also an executive producer, writer, poet, entrepreneur, author, speaker and social activist. Born and raised in New York City, he has written poetry, prose and articles for over 36 years. 

Organizers hope the event also will serve as a retention tool and promote a sense of belonging and connection within the SIU community. It is aimed at breaking down silos and expanding working relationships and networks while supporting SIU's goal of promoting collaboration and interdisciplinary learning. 

Stewart said the event is aimed at creating opportunities for networking and mentorship among faculty, staff and students, which can be particularly valuable for first-generation students and underrepresented groups in fields such as STEM to establish connections within the field. 

“By connecting with faculty members who share their interests and backgrounds for example, these students can gain valuable insights and guidance on pursuing their education and careers,” Stewart said.  

The event is co-sponsored by the office of the Vice Chancellor for Anti-Racism, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the SIU STEM Education Research Center, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Center for Teaching Excellence, office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, and the College of Liberal Arts.