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Steven Dew named Lincoln Academy student laureate

By Pete Rosenbery

For Steven E. Dew, receiving the 2016 Lincoln Academy of Illinois student laureate for Southern Illinois University Carbondale was a great honor.

Dew, a senior from Downs, is a University Honors Program scholar who is pursuing a double major – television/video production in the College of Mass Communication and Media Arts, and financial economics in the College of Liberal Arts. He has earned dean’s list honors in each of his seven semesters, has a 4.0 GPA, and will graduate in May 2017.

“The award was a huge honor and it also opened the door for me to meet and spend time with SIU administrators,” Dew said. He received the Abraham Lincoln Civic Engagement Award, which comes with a medallion, certificate of achievement and monetary award, during the annual Student Laureate Convocation, Nov. 12, in the Old State Capital in Springfield.

SIU Carbondale Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell attended, and Dew’s parents, Paul and Gina Dew, accompanied Dew to the ceremony. Dew said his favorite part of the event was the luncheon, where he and his parents sat with the Colwells, now former SIU Board of Trustee Roger Herrin, and Dr. Larry Jones, a member of the SIU Foundation Board of Directors.

“It was great for my parents and I to get acquainted and talk with all of them,” he said.

The Lincoln Academy of Illinois presents the award annually to a senior from each of the state’s four-year, degree-granting institutions of higher learning and this marks the 42nd year for the awards. 

Dew came to SIU Carbondale in fall 2013 as a University Excellence Scholar. He was surprised and happy when he received the email from Colwell notifying him of the laureate honor.

“I know there are many great candidates up for this award each year,” Dew said. “To find out I won is really special. It’s a big honor with a lot of great candidates from every college.”

Apart from his academic excellence, Dew, a 2013 graduate of Tri-Valley High School in Downs, is involved in a variety of volunteer efforts both in Southern Illinois and at home. As part of the university’s honors program, he has completed more than 60 hours of community service in the Carbondale area -- including helping during student move-in activities, picking up trash on local highways, and volunteering at a local animal shelter.

Giving back to the community is a core tenet of Dew’s faith. He volunteered for 10 years in the tech loft of Calvary United Methodist Church in Normal, and it was through that experience that Dew developed a love of videography. He is involved in the Great Banquet/Awakening community programs in the Bloomington-Normal area, along with a prison ministry retreat in the summer that helps connect children between 8 and 12 years old with their incarcerated mothers. He also performs in the Tri-Valley Fine Arts Boosters faculty and alumni fundraiser play to help raise funds for the high school’s theater program.

“I grew up in a Christian home so giving back has always been important,” he said. “Giving back is something I like to do. It is important for me to try to influence my community in a positive way. Volunteering is one way I use to try and do it.”

Dew said he knew SIU Carbondale was the place to pursue his degree when he arrived for a visit.

“I’ve received a very good education,” he said. “It was pretty easy to design my own degree, really. I had advisers in both colleges working with me to make sure I got into the classes I needed and I was well informed. I’ve received a good education that is really tailored to what I want as a career.”

Since his sophomore year, Dew has worked as a tutor in the university’s Achieve Program. The academic support program provides in-house assistance and serves students with learning difficulties to help them succeed and reach their goals. Dew’s focus is on economics and radio, television and digital media, but he also works as a general tutor.

“That’s really rewarding because I get to help other students,” he said. “Being able to help change or have an impact on other people’s lives is what is special.”

Dew is involved with the Movie Camera Movement, a registered student organization that writes, directs and produces original student films. As part of his classes, he was involved as a student volunteer with university’s inaugural ESPN3/Missouri Valley Conference broadcasts, filming ESPN basketball and softball broadcasts for the SIU athletics department.

He is also heavily involved in intramural sports on campus.

After graduation, Dew sees himself working as a financial adviser with video production on the side before pursuing videography full time. Dew and his high school sweetheart, Samantha Coulon, a senior at Ball State University, plan to marry in July.

“I want to use my economics degree to build a successful videography business,” he said. “That’s my true passion.”