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Nigerian PhD Student Receives Highest Award in an American University

Saidat Rasaq-Balogun, a Nigerian graduate, has received the 2024 highest award at Southern Illinois University (SIU).

Saidat Rasaq-Balogun, a Nigerian graduate, has received the 2024 Distinguished Student Award from Southern Illinois University (SIU).

Mrs. Rasaq-Balogun, along with seven other students from SIU’s campuses in Carbondale, Edwardsville, and Springfield, was honored by the university’s board of trustees and the Student Advisory Committee for the SIU System (SACSS).

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A graduate in Meteorological and Climate Science from the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Mrs. Rasaq-Balogun is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Environmental Resource and Policy at SIU. She also holds a master’s degree from the same department at FUTA.

“SIU is proud to have so many wonderfully accomplished students who are not only making a major impact on campus but also in the greater communities,” stated SIU System President Dan Mahony.

The SACSS selected one undergraduate and one graduate student each from SIU Edwardsville and SIU Carbondale, as well as students from the SIU schools of medicine, law, pharmacy, and dental medicine. The SIU board meeting took place in Carbondale on April 11.

Mrs. Rasaq-Balogun has significantly contributed to SIU as a teacher, researcher, and volunteer. She is deeply involved with international student organizations on campus, focusing on aiding international and African students. She is currently the Vice President of the SIU International Student Council and often provides temporary housing for international students facing challenges.

“She makes inclusivity a top priority and ensures that international students find communities where they belong at SIU,” the university noted.

Other award recipients include SIU Carbondale undergraduate student Sarah Lukavsky, School of Law student Shailey Park, School of Medicine student Ashley-Ann Walker, Edwardsville undergraduate student Isabella Pruitt, Edwardsville graduate student Amber Powell, School of Dental Medicine student Julissa Quinonez, and School of Pharmacy student Jessie Icenogle.

The SACSS advises SIU administrators on student-related issues pertinent at the system level. “This committee works very hard to be a voice for their fellow students and to recognize the outstanding work their peers are doing at SIU,” said SIU Vice President of Academic Innovation, Planning, and Partnerships, Gireesh Gupchup.

Mrs. Rasaq-Balogun, now in her third year at the Environmental Resource and Policy Department at SIU’s Carbondale campus, aims through her Ph.D. research to understand historical and projected future changes in warm seasons and heat stress in the Midwestern United States.

“This research is crucial for explaining global climate changes,” she said. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects increasing heat waves with 1.5°C of global warming, highlighting the need for understanding and preparedness for adaptation.”

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