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Callie Smith wins 2017 Paul Simon Essay Contest at SIC

A student essay reflecting on how opportunities given at Southeastern Illinois College and changes made while attending community college helps one to follow their passion has earned Callie Smith of Eldorado the 2017 Paul Simon Essay award at SIC.

Callie Smith of Eldorado (right) receives a $50 check from Dr. Karen Weiss, SIC Vice President of Academic Affairs, for winning the 2017 Paul Simon Essay Contest at Southeastern Illinois College.

“I am very excited to win this award,” said Smith. “I enjoy writing essays and getting to write an essay about how SIC has changed my life is such an awesome opportunity.”

Returning to SIC next year with a theatre scholarship, Smith will continue earning her associate of arts degree. After graduation, she is looking to transfer to Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky to pursue a bachelor’s degree and major in marketing.

Dr. Karen Weiss, SIC vice president of academic affairs, congratulated Smith on her award and presented her with a $50 check.  Smith’s essay will be entered into the Illinois Community College Trustees Association’s Paul Simon Student Essay Contest at the state level.  The winner of that contest will receive a $500 scholarship during an annual awards luncheon this summer in Normal.

“SIC has given me opportunities to succeed that I feel like I wouldn’t have gotten at a big university,” said Smith.  ”I get to save money and have fun while doing it.  I am very grateful for the opportunities SIC has given me.”

For more information on the contest, call 217-528-2858, ext. 1.

Smith’s essay by permission:

How My Community College Has Changed My Life

            Imagine graduating high school on a cool Friday night and waking up on Saturday morning with your dream scholarship in your pocket and an exclusive job opportunity waiting for you to start the day.  For me, I no longer have to imagine this scenario, I lived it.  In May, 2016 I graduated top of my class and the day after, I had a potential job in the President’s Office of my community college.

Not only did I receive the theatre scholarship I had been dreaming of getting, I got the job opportunity that was perfect for me.  I enjoy doing office work more than an 18 year old probably should, but I consider myself to be rather good at it.  In this job I have the opportunity to work for my college’s marketing department, a career that I have been told time after time to consider, but never did.  While working for marketing and struggling with deciding whether or not I wanted to stay in my intended major, psychology with a concentration in forensics, I performed the role of Marmee in Little Women.  The opportunity to play my favorite character in one of my favorite childhood books was a dream come true, regardless of the fact that it was community college theater, because that’s what makes it so awesome.  You get to know each of your cast members and form lasting relationships with them that I wouldn’t get on a higher level.  While performing I really took into consideration some of the advice that Marmee gives her girls.  When Jo is faced with a major problem, Marmee tells her to “Watch and pray, dear.  And never think it impossible to conquer your faults.” As many times as I rehearsed this line, it never really registered with me until the actual show dates.  At this point in time I started to think about potentially changing my major but never really wanted to bring myself to do it.  Two weeks after, I knew that I needed to change my major so after talking to our marketing coordinator and communications coordinator, I finally saw that marketing was the way I needed to go. Had it not been for this job opportunity, I never would have found what I loved.

I also have the opportunity to serve on my Student Government’s Executive Board as a student trustee, president of our Phi Theta Kappa honors chapter, and secretary of our Theta Sigma Phi chapter.  I have always been told that I have strong leadership skills.  My experience serving in clubs in high school prepared me for the challenges I would face now.  I love to serve others and do what is right.  My favorite club, The National Beta club, has a motto that says it best, “let us lead by serving others.”  I have never found a greater joy than serving others and that is exactly what my community college does. Leads by serving others.