It’s awards season at local universities, colleges

The Allsup Elevator Pitch Competition was recently held at Southwestern Illinois College.
The Allsup Elevator Pitch Competition was recently held at Southwestern Illinois College.

Local high school students showcased their bright ideas for products and services during the Allsup Elevator Pitch Competition recently held at Southwestern Illinois College.

Competitors had two minutes each to present their ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win five $500 prizes.

The elevator pitch name and the brief time frame allowed represent the amount of time an entrepreneur may have to discuss a business idea with a potential investor during a short elevator ride.

Top prizes went to Belleville East High School student Dane Smith III for The Rancid Notifier; Belleville West High School students Jamecia Laws for the Solar Charger and Nicholas Givens for the Expandable Cases; and Gibault Catholic High School students Jon Daniel for the Collar Cam and Lizzie Kuerz (for Andrew Reinholz) for The Spit-Tuner.

“These students came up with some very clever and innovative ideas,” said Sue Taylor, coordinator of the SWIC marketing and management programs. “We are proud to partner with Jim Allsup and Allsup Inc. to offer this competition and light a spark for future entrepreneurs.”

Judges included Darren Cross, assistant professor of management at McKendree University; Darcella Craven, executive director of the Veterans Business Resource Center; and Paris Rosenburg, assistant professor of economics and business administration at SWIC.

Competitors were judged on originality and feasibility of their ideas, and presentation style.

Other competitors included:

▪ Belleville East High School students Abigail Agne (for Anna Satterfield), Gada Hamed, Justus Howard (for Katie Kisro), Alixandra Parsons (for Gillian Lewis), Zephanie Sterling (for Jordan Baxter), Tori Stevens, Maleri Ward (for Nicole Wuebbels) and Wyatt Weeks

▪ Belleville West High School students Ian Baumann and Dillon Sunnquist

▪ Gibault High School students Megan Branz, Emily McNally (for Abigail Haloftis) and Sam Range

▪ O’Fallon Township High School student Jerren Fulcher.

For more information on the Allsup Elevator Pitch Competition or SWIC Business Division programs, contact Taylor at 618-235-2700, ext. 5434.

Lindenwood University-Belleville and the YMCA of Southwest Illinois partnered to honor 11 local high school seniors selected as recipients of this year’s Y-Scholars Award. An awards ceremony was held for the recipients and their families on April 29 at Lindenwood Belleville.

“We are thrilled to be working together with Lindenwood to strengthen and transform the lives of our youth through service and education,”Kate Diouf, associate director of quality and impact at the YMCA, said.

Every year, the YMCA presents one to two high school seniors at each of its seven branches with the Y-Scholar Award and $1,500 in scholarship funds. The winning students are selected based on their academic performance and the way they exemplify the organization’s core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility.

This year, recipients of the Y-Scholars Award will also receive $4,000 in scholarship funds from Lindenwood Belleville, should they enroll as commuter students, or $7,000, should they choose to live on campus.

“We are excited to work with the YMCA to offer scholarships and educational opportunities to our local community,” Reeta Piirala-Skoglund, dean of admissions for Lindenwood Belleville, said. “We look forward to our local recipients joining us on campus, and hope that we are their top choice in continuing their education.”

The YMCA is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits, strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. In 2014, the YMCA of Southwest Illinois engaged nearly 70,000 residents across Southwest Illinois in programs and services and currently has nearly 37,000 members. Y-Scholars is a competitive scholarship award that has been provided to youth in each of the area’s seven branches for the past three years.

For more information on the Y-Scholars program, visit

McKendree University Chapter 292 of Phi Kappa Phi interdisciplinary honor society installed 53 new members during its twelfth initiation ceremony for students at the Lebanon, Ill., campus. The April 23 ceremony at the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts was part of an Academic Excellence Celebration to recognize outstanding student achievement throughout the university community.

Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most selective all-discipline honor society. Individual membership is by invitation and requires nomination and chapter approval. Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors, having at least 72 semester hours, are eligible. Graduate students in the top 10 percent may also qualify, as do faculty, professional staff, board members and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction.

Installed as 2015-16 chapter officers were Dr. Robb Van Putte, president; Dr. Richelle Rennegarbe, president-elect; Dr. Brenda Doll, treasurer; Krysti Connelly, public relations; and Kenneth O’Dell, student vice-president. Marsha Goddard remains chapter secretary.

A Southern Illinois University Edwardsville student’s recent trip to a poverty stricken country to help give children recreational play is one reason why he won this year’s Kimmel scholarship, school leaders said.

Neil Abegg, a junior majoring in human resource management, received the scholarship Monday night at the Kimmel Leadership Awards Ceremony.

Abegg, of New Athens, will receive free tuition for one year, according to Michelle Welter, associate director for the Kimmel Student Involvement Center. The annual scholarship program is sponsored by the SIUE Kimmel Student Involvement Center.

The award was established to recognize students for their outstanding leadership and community volunteer service contributions, in addition to academic excellence. It is named for Carol K. Kimmel, a former member of the SIU Board of Trustees who died in 2008. She was an avid volunteer for many years and a devoted SIUE supporter who dedicated her life to education.

“Though I am just one person, I know that I can make a great impact in such poverty as I saw in (Negril) Jamaica,” said Abegg, who has a 3.2 GPA and more than 100 hours in community services. The junior was one of 11 SIUE students who built a netball court at Church Hill Primary School in Negril and provided school supplies and candy to the youngsters.

Kimmel Community Service is another (non-student) category in the Kimmel Leadership Awards. This year there were four recipients, Carolyn Catalano, office support specialist in the Foreign Languages and Literature department; Barbara Kusmierczak of Collinsville, Jodi Olson, admission and records officer in the Registrar’s Office; and Eric Voss, professor in the Department of Chemistry.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at or 618-239-2626. Follow him on Twitter: @scottwuerzBND.