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Business college graduates give back

November 30, 2010, Greg Scott, SIU Foundation

Some alumni of Southern Illinois University’s College of Business are wasting no time in offering financial assistance to support students who are following in their footsteps.

Recent graduates of the college -- Candice McCloud (business management in 2007), Xavier Mims (management in 2008), and Janaya Tucker (accounting in 2007 and master’s in business administration in 2008) -- have in short order made a commitment to establish scholarships and offer additional assistance to current students.

Michael Haywood, Director of the Office of Minority Affairs in the College, says these alumni were recipients of scholarships and are eager to return the favor now that they have launched their careers.

“These individuals endured some economic trials to attain their own education. They were grateful for receiving scholarships and want to support others,” he says. “Additionally, they take note of the college’s limited resources and want to give back. This isn’t anything new … we’ve had similar commitments from our alumni for close to 25 years. But recently, we’ve had people giving back much earlier in their careers.”

Haywood says all three alumni assumed leadership roles on campus, pursued opportunities to attain experience in their chosen field and worked hard to live up to the scholarship requirements. Each worked for Haywood in some capacity as a student at Southern.

McCloud was initially inspired after speaking with Mims.

Mims approached Haywood; Tammy Cavarretta, director of development for the College of Business; and Dean Dennis Cradit shortly after graduation about creating a scholarship to help new students. Mims was the beneficiary of scholarships and financial assistance and wanted to help others. Therefore, he and Haywood selected two students to receive brand new laptops purchased by Mims, currently executive district manager for Aldi, Inc., in Chicago. The students were recognized at the 2009 College of Business Honors Day ceremony.

Upon hearing of Mims’ generosity, McCloud took the initiative to follow suit. She established the Gloria Dean Battles Scholarship, named after her late grandmother, who was a teacher for 30 years. McCloud is honoring her grandmother’s lifelong commitment to education.

“My grandmother was the matriarch of our family. Education has always been important in my family and she instilled that in us,” McCloud says. “Also, my mother attended college and attained a master’s degree. She received the ‘Teacher of the Year’ award in O’Fallon in just her second year. My brother and sister attended college as well.”

McCloud named the scholarship after her grandmother so other family members could contribute. She would like to expand it beyond the current $1,000 amount. The award is geared toward students in the business college who have a 3.0 grade point average or higher with preference given to minority students.

McCloud’s mother, and her father, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who has served 22 years in the military and recently returned from duty in Iraq, paid their way through college. She had to do the same because she was not eligible to receive financial aid.

“I want to help people who don’t receive as much financial aid. But I don’t want that to be the only criteria,” she says. “They have to earn good grades, work hard, and be successful.”

The SIU graduate is quite a success herself. McCloud has been a key account manager for the Coca-Cola Co. in Niles since June. She previously served as a district manager and recruiter for Aldi, Inc. in Batavia.

“SIU laid a strong foundation for my career and I learned a great deal. The college prepared me to take that step into the professional world,” she says. “I grew and learned the importance of time management and prioritizing. The experience of working and developing relationships in the classroom, and working with fellow students on projects in student organizations really prepared me for the professional world.”

The latest former student to follow in this path is Janaya Tucker, who received a bachelor’s in accounting in 2007 and attained a master’s in business administration in 2008. She derived inspiration from Mims and McCloud and established her own scholarship to assist current students in the College of Business. Tucker funded scholarships in the amount of $1,000, just three years after graduation.

An experienced associate with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Chicago, Tucker established the scholarship in appreciation for the education she received at Southern, which she says prepared her for a career in public accounting. She expresses appreciation for financial support earned that eased the financial burdens associated with attending college, and the guidance she received as a student at SIU.

“I was not awarded financial aid, so my education was funded through multiple avenues including my parents, student work positions, scholarships, and assistantships from the College of Business, as well as external sources such as the Illinois CPA Society and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants,” she says. “The funding I received allowed me to focus on my education and develop the knowledge and skills which I utilize on a daily basis in my career. Therefore, it’s only appropriate for me to give back.”

Tucker will fund her scholarship on an annual basis, with aspirations of increasing the amount in the future. The Janaya D. Tucker Scholarship will target an undergraduate majoring in accounting with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Preference will be given to an African American student.

“Hopefully, my scholarship will help ease the financial burden of attending college for current students, and in turn, allow them to focus on their college education. I do not want current students to be discouraged from earning their degree(s) from the College of Business due to the financial burdens associated with being a college student,” she says. “Also, I hope my scholarships will inspire other alums to give back to the College of Business.”

SIU Carbondale College of Business Dean J. Dennis Cradit says: “The generosity of Ms. McCloud, Mr. Mims and Ms. Tucker is inspiring. Their contributions exemplify their gratitude for the scholarships they received during their time at SIU, as well as their strong commitment to education.”

Rickey N. McCurry, vice chancellor for institutional advancement and CEO of the SIU Foundation, agrees: “The support exhibited by Candice, Xavier and Janaya is a tribute to their respective experiences in the College of Business and at SIU. They are expressing their appreciation of their education by giving back to their alma mater in short order. We are thankful for their generosity and the fine examples they are setting for students who are striving to follow in their footsteps.”

The college has more students who plan to follow the examples set by McCloud, Mims and Tucker, according to Haywood. He also states that their support demonstrated by the graduates offer current students goes beyond monetary rewards.

“They volunteer time to return to campus and conduct workshops. When our students hear about their career paths, it motivates them to succeed,” he says. “It’s really an asset to the college when alumni are willing to come back and assist in educating our students on important qualities and skills that are pertinent to succeed in corporate America. When someone gives you a blueprint on how it’s done, that is just as important as donating money.”