Saluki Pride: Tina Sickinger wins SIU’s A/P Staff Excellence Award

Much of her work is behind the scenes, but Tina Sickinger plays a very pivotal role in the university’s success.

Sickinger, the recruitment and retention officer for the Graduate School, School of Law and Center for International Education, received university’s Staff (Administrative/Professional) Award recently, one of eight Excellence Awards to honor faculty and staff for superior scholarship and creative endeavors, teaching and service. The award is for a staff member whose performance goes above normal job requirements in furthering the university’s mission that contributes to student success.

Karen Jones, associate dean and graduate school director, said Sickinger “is the master at juggling the needs of many.” Her work since June 2022 helped allow graduate school applications, admissions and registered new students to increase, including organizing programs and students from across campus to participate SIU’s first campuswide graduate student recruitment event.

Sickinger’s “work ethic, dedication to SIU, service to students and the genuine warmth with which she interacts with everyone,” is inspiring, said Rose M.T. Moroz, graduate school assistant dean.

“She is one of those behind-the-scenes workers who are continually performing crucial roles and furthering the mission of our university,” Moroz said. “She deserves recognition for her more than 10 years of making SIU a better place through her consistently excellent work, one day at a time.”

Camille Davidson said Sickinger “wowed me from day one.” Sickinger immediately went to work familiarizing herself with the law school, including the legal curriculum, feeder schools and the law school’s strengths, along with faculty, staff and students.

“To know that she has duties in two additional places is icing on the cake,” Davidson said. “She loves SIU. She knows the region. She is passionate about all that we have to offer.”

Sickinger is a two-degree SIU graduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in community health education and master’s in higher education, college student personnel. Before accepting her present post, she worked in a variety of capacities, starting in August 2010 for the Center for International Education.

“It is truly an honor to be nominated by those I work with on campus, let alone be selected,” she said. “I took a risk within in the last year and accepted a new position. This award reaffirms that decision for myself and gives me motivation. It is truly humbling and makes me appreciate the fantastic colleagues that I have in each of the units I work in and those across campus.”

Get to know TINA SICKINGER

Name: Tina Sickinger

Departments/Title: Graduate School, School of Law and Center for International Education; coordinator of graduate school, international education and law school recruitment and retention.

Years at SIU Carbondale: Nearly 13.

Give us the elevator pitch for your job.

In my current role, I support the recruitment and retention efforts for all graduate level and law school students, including international students. Daily, I work to coordinate recruitment and retention priorities, events, strategy, materials, people and goals, and provide knowledge of university systems and processes, while accounting for best practices. Ultimately, I serve as an ambassador for the university who assists coordination in all things graduate-professional enrollment management and support services.

What is the favorite part of your job?

I love getting to share the good news of SIU. When speaking to students about their future and what SIU has to offer — it is a reward. To know that I can be a small part in helping someone complete their goals and making the choice to further their education — it is the best part! I love getting to meet students, faculty, staff and alums from different fields of study, backgrounds and areas of life and celebrating their accomplishments.

Why did you choose SIU?

SIU chose me. I have been a Saluki since I was a child, and it was my first choice when I was deciding on where to pursue my undergraduate degree. After my undergraduate studies, I transitioned into a full-time role on campus within the Center for International Education, where I was a longtime student worker. I served as an immigration specialist before my current role and had the privilege of serving many students, researchers and visitors from several different nationalities. I am happy to say that this university has provided me many opportunities for which I am very grateful. I am very proud to say that I am a two-time graduate of SIU Carbondale.

My favorite activity away from work is …

Away from work, I am a TV junkie and sports fanatic, and enjoy reading fiction. I love getting outside and dancing — both are things I do not do nearly enough. I have two kids and a husband who are my world and keep me very busy. Otherwise, I have a strong appreciation for diversity, travel and other cultures. Though, I do not get to travel nearly as much as I would like to in my down time.

What was your first car, and would you like to have it once again if you could?

My first car was a 12-year-old Ford Escort that I bought for $500. I drove it up to 300,000 miles, and someone in my family drove it after me. This car had a whole personality that included a busted exhaust, so everyone knew when I was coming and going. I called her Betsy, and she was the best $500 I have ever spent. She even moved me down to Carbondale when that time came. I like to think I have upgraded since that time.

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