Students are seen standing and talking.

(Top, from left) Bryson Scholars Lucas Thiesse of Algonquin, Illinois; Ace Escamilla of Addison, Illinois, and Natalie Esteban of Skokie, Illinois, play roles during a communication studies class activity as Shelby Swafford, communication studies assistant professor of practice and class instructor, takes notes, and CJ Wormely of Chicago, one of the lead program counselors and a 2021 Bryson Scholar, observes from the doorway. (Bottom): Esteban, Escamilla and Thiesse talk with Swafford during a communication studies class. (Photos by Russell Bailey)

July 02, 2024

SIU’s Bryson Future Scholars Program launches students toward success

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — When classes start this fall at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, dozens of incoming students will have already earned 8 credit hours and gotten a head start on their college careers, thanks to their participation in the Dr. Seymour Bryson Future Scholars Program this summer.

From all over Illinois as well as Missouri, Alabama and more, the 47 students arrived on campus June 30 for a four-week immersive campus stay. They will enjoy a true-life SIU college experience, residing in Neely Hall, getting acquainted with campus and community amenities, learning about resources available to them as Salukis and much more.  

“The goal is to help Bryson Scholars build a strong foundation, to give them a chance to experience college life, establish a routine and learn the basics in advance,” said Kristopher Marshall, director of Exploratory Student Advisement, which coordinates the program. “By giving them the opportunity to get acclimated with all of the resources and units of campus such as financial aid, sustainability, Saluki Cares, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the writing center, and the city of Carbondale and community too, we can give them a jumpstart toward success in college and beyond.”

Proven record of success

This is the fourth year for the revamped program, and it already has a proven track record, according to Marshall. Last year’s participants had a remarkable 90% success rate and an average GPA of 3.11.

The students are chosen to attend SIU through a selective admissions process and receive assistance to help transition from high school to college.

bryson-scholar-026-sm.jpgThe Future Scholars program was created in 1991 by the late Seymour Bryson, a triple alumnus of SIU who retired in 2008 as associate chancellor for diversity and Rehabilitation Institute professor. After a brief hiatus, the program was reestablished in 2021 at the behest of Chancellor Austin Lane, with funding from the SIU Foundation.

The program includes three university core curriculum courses: communication studies, English and University 101 orientation. It also provides access to campus resources, visits from campus and community partners, time management instruction, workshops, mandatory study table time featuring tutoring and academic coaching, and a variety of other benefits.

In addition, the participants get acquainted with faculty and administrators as well as their peers, enjoy team-building activities, and participate in community service. Many of the program counselors are graduates of the Bryson Scholars Program themselves.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews will find a variety of opportunities for engaging photos, stories and videos while the Seymour Bryson Scholars are on campus through July 27.

Media are welcome at:

  • The July 7 community service activity as students participate in conjunction with the Sustainability Office. They will meet outside Neely Hall about 11:30 a.m. and engage in a campus cleanup project in the vicinity of Thompson Woods until about 1 p.m. From 2-3 p.m., they will be in rooms 150/160 in the Student Services Building making keychains from recycled materials and writing sustainability pledges.
  • The after-dinner study table times set for 6:15-7:45 p.m. Sunday through Thursday each week on the 7th floor of Morris Library in Rooms 722, 724 and the Tutoring Center.
  • The Awards Banquet and Presentation at 6:30 p.m. July 26 in the Old Main Room at the Student Center as family and supporters are welcome to join participants for an awards celebration.

Students will be participating in a variety of other activities, including touring facilities and using campus amenities at various times.

All times, dates and 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 and coverage opportunities, contact Kristopher Marshall director of Exploratory Student Advisement, at 618-453-4351, 618-203-4321 or

Throughout the program, each week will have lessons and programs focusing on a theme, Marshall said. The themes include:

  •  Sacrifice.
  •  Perseverance.
  •  Vision.
  •  Success.

The Bryson Scholars will also take part in educational cultural enrichment field trips where they will engage in educational and cultural experiences as they learn about history and more. The trips are sponsored in part by Narratent Digital Marketing, owned by SIU alumni Desmon Walker and Allen Shelton who are both former exploratory students. The itinerary includes visits to:

  • Springfield, Illinois, on July 6 to visit the Lincoln Library, the Vietnam Veteran Memorial and the State Capitol.
  • Louisville, Kentucky, on July 13 to the Muhammad Ali Center.
  • Memphis, Tennessee, on July 20 for the Civil Rights Museum.