Donation provides extra support for college students

A local university received a big check Wednesday that could give your child a leg up in their education.

AT&T donated $75,000 to SIU-Carbondale’s Rising Scholar’s and Summer Bridge programs, which serve 80 students every year.

As first generation Americans, Rebecca Tompkins and Brian Laurore say college was a lifelong dream.

"My parents really wanted me to go to college, because they wanted me to do better than they did," said Tompkins.

"I wanted to get away from home, but not too far, so SIU was a perfect fit," said Laurore.

Each realized adjusting to college life would offer unique challenges.

"I’m a very nervous person," said Tompkins.

Which is why Chancellor Brad Colwell says they were selected for a program that kick-starts their college career.

"The Summer Bridge program and Rising Scholars provides that little extra boost," said Colwell.

Getting students on campus early helps them acclimate socially. Once school starts, the programs provide mentoring, tutoring, career coaching, and scholarships.

"They want the best for you," said Laurore.

"I made so many new friends that coming to school in the fall it wasn’t that bad at all," said Tompkins.

"If you come in and talk about how you’re just going to stick with a B, they’re going to push you to get that A," said Laurore.

Once threatened by the Illinois budget impasse, Colwell says the donation will now allow the programs to expand from 62 to 80 students.

To be eligible for the Saluki Summer Bridge and Rising Scholars programs, a student must have at least a 2.7 GPA.

For more information on each program, click here.

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