2023 - Southwestern Illinois College

Find Your Purpose with Success Coaching

Sometimes, on that freeway of life, we find that we would like to make a turn. For instance, it  happened to Jami Houston, Director of Success Programs here at SWIC. Before she even began her first semester of college, Jami said she found herself changing majors.

“I applied to college as a history, pre-law major,” she explained. “I really had no idea what I wanted to do. A conversation with my dad, led me to think about sports marketing. When I went to orientation to register for my first semester classes, I knew I didn’t want to major in history, so the advisor changed me to undecided.”

Once Jami started the semester, she met with her advisor who “let me know some options including advertising, marketing, and leisure studies. I didn’t want to do the math required for marketing, so I chose advertising.”

If you have found that you are not thrilled with your major and you’re almost through the first (second or third) semester, you are not alone. About a third of all students change their major at least one time.

There are actions you can take if you are not sure about your current choice of major to help you narrow down the list or if you are still undecided. From creating a personal mission statement to identifying your interests, you can get closer to discovering your unique purpose.

But first, determine if you really need to change your major. For example, if you are struggling or uninterested in your classes, that may be a sign to consider a different degree plan. In addition, if you are not interested in pursuing a career in the major you have chosen, or if you only chose it because of the potential for lots of money, then you should probably change directions.

“Mean” professors and difficult courses are not usually reasons to switch majors.


Some methods that students have used to determine their major include knowing what they are good at and taking general education courses to help find out what they like.  Talking to an advisor or the Career Center can help you uncover your interests. Also, ask people with careers you’d like to have what their major was in college.

If you don’t have a strong sense of what your academic interests are, think about the classes and projects you have enjoyed.  Also, think about people who have changed your life for the better. Brainstorm how you like spending your time and list any skills you possess that you are proud of.

Another key to finding your interests is identifying what activities create a state of flow or put you ‘in the zone.’  These are terms that describe having a feeling of energized focus as you enjoy and are totally immersed in your what you are doing. This is a good indicator of something you may want to pursue as a career or hobby.

Also, spend time with people who inspire you. Make sure you are surrounding yourself with positive, goal-driven people who lift you up. You may even want to evaluate your relationships with friends to make sure you are not stuck in unproductive or unhealthy patterns of behavior.


If you’re asking yourself, “What is my purpose?” you’re not alone. One study showed that only ¼ of American adults say they have a clear sense of purpose.

Think about what you believe in and think about the social causes you support.  Even consider what you would like to be remembered for at the end of your life. Ensure that passion — not duty — drives your purpose. What are some ideals you believe are important for living a good life?

Also, what kind of impact or change would you like to bring about in your community or the world? A mission statement states what you are going to do and why. The mission statement serves as a constant reminder of what is important to you.

Finally, adopt a growth mindset because it allows you to:

  • Embrace challenges as opportunities
  • Persevere in spite of failure 
  • Accept feedback and constructive criticism

When asked how changing majors worked out in the long run, Jami said,  “After college, I did work in advertising/communication briefly. But since then I’ve worked in event management, recreation, human resources, college admissions, academic support, and leadership with every position building on the experience I gained from the last. While I didn’t end up with a career in advertising, I still use the skills I learned from the degree such as working with people, understanding cultures, and professional communication skills.”

If you would like some help with creating your mission statement or learning more about a growth mindset, you may use this link to make a coaching appointment:

*Be sure and always meet with an advisor before dropping or adding classes!

For More Information

Undecided? Here are four steps to choosing a major

Start finding your purpose and unlock your best life

How to Know When You Should (or Shouldn’t) Switch Your Major

5 ways to find your purpose before choosing your major

Lead with Strengths

It’s true, everyone will face complications or obstacles at some point in their lives.  When you hit that rough patch, how you react often determines whether or not you are successful. 

Like, if I fail a math test, which behavior will help me the most?  Blaming the teacher?  Feeling sorry for myself? Neither of those will help me learn the material or improve my score on the next test.

So how can you prepare for reacting positively to something bad that happens? 

Try this. To reach success, prepare to lead with your best qualities and strengths.  That makes sense, doesn’t it?

But how do you know what your best qualities are?

Well, we have two ways students can identify their strengths:  Success Coaching and the CliftonStrengths Assessment.

Success Coaching is about getting to know yourself, and, the Core Motivation Tool empowers the student through identifying their unique strengths and weaknesses. In coaching sessions, a student explores how to use this tool for personal and professional growth.

Through Success Coaching, a student can identify which strength to bring to a situation and practice using that strength. The Core Motivation tool helps a student gain a different perspective of themselves.  It makes changing less personal and thus easier to accomplish.

The second option, The CliftonStrengths Assessment, is a survey that will provide your top five personal strengths with an informational guide printed for each one with some practical uses.

CliftonStrengths empowers you to achieve outcomes faster and with less friction by intentionally leaning into what you do best. It’s a development tool – the more you use your strengths, the stronger they get. 

Both require at least one appointment with the Success Coach. The CliftonStrengths Assessment is a 60-question survey that takes approximately 30 minutes and is to be completed before the coaching appointment.

Find out what your best qualities are what they can help you become. Because it’s not the stressor, it’s how you react to it.

Make an appointment with Success Coach through Bookings, the QR code below, or call or visit the Success Center LA Room 1307 | 618-235-2700 ext. 5495

QR code

Start like a pro!  Sign up for Success Coaching!

Have you ever watched professional athletes on television and wondered what you could do if you had a coach closely supporting you along the way?

Well, now you can have a SWIC Success Coach to be there as you become as successful as you are willing to be.

Success Coaching is a new program to support students as they navigate the many demands of college life.

You come to the coaching session and decide what areas you would like to work on.  Maybe it’s procrastination.  Maybe it’s simply getting enough sleep.  Or, perhaps you are trying to figure out all the campus resources so you can make sure you’re not missing out on something important.

The goal is only limited by your imagination.

Success Coaching offers holistic support – meaning we build connections with others across campus, and provide you, the student, a network of helpful individuals plus the opportunity to design action steps to meet your goals.

Don’t know what your goals are?  We can explore that as well.

In Success Coaching we help you identify obstacles to learning and provide individualized support.

Your responsibilities: Keep an open and growth mindset when completing tasks.

During a 30-45-minute session, you will decide how often to meet, schedule the next appointment, and set the purpose of the meeting.

Make an appointment with Success Coach through Bookings, the QR code below, or call or visit the Success Center LA Room 1307 | 618-235-2700 ext. 5495

QR Code The Success Experiment

Launch in the Success Center!

Launch in the Success Center is one of the resources that I tell new students about.

Not only can they help with small technology problems such as resetting your password or getting into Brightspace, they can also help with figuring out where your classes are, introduce you to tutors, and show you how to study better.

I asked Jessika, one of my Success Coaching students, to tell others about this program for new college students. 

“Launch begins with a survey called the LASSI – the Learning and Studies Strategies Inventory. This survey asks about 60 questions related to how you study.

They told me the best way to get anything out of it is to tell the truth.

I mean if you’re having trouble with math and think about math all the way through the survey, it will affect your answers, right? 

You don’t have to focus on just one troublesome class. You can think about all of them in general. 

I changed how I approached my homework after I spoke with the Specialist about the LASSI. 

For example, I would ordinarily wait until about a week before the test to start studying for it.  BUT! I learned that the best time to start memorizing facts for the test is the first day of class for courses like biology and chemistry.  

But I also learned about the Success Center in general. I can go in there and just use the computers if I want to, or I can ask for help on my English or math or whatever.

They do a really good job of trying to help me solve a problem. They don’t necessarily claim to know all the answers, but they can help you sort out the problem and figure out how to get the answer. 

My recommended study tip is sometime during the first two weeks of the new semester, I urge everyone to go through Launch.

Not only will it help you get organized for the new semester, but they can also help you figure out how to study, where to study, when to study, and how to get an A in your class.

I know that my GPA (grade point average) improved because I always went to the Success Center to do my homework even if I didn’t ask for help; just being there kept me focused on my work.”

– Jessika 

So! Remember the first two weeks of the semester: go into the Success Center on Belleville or Granite City campus at least 45 minutes before closing and Launch Your Success.

Or give yourself time out of your day because it really pays off throughout the rest of the semester.

Thanks to our peer tutor for sharing their thoughts with us.

– Success Coach 

Response by the Success
Coaching Team 

The Success Center provides tutoring and academic support to all SWIC students.  This 2022 Class Climate result shows 94% of the students agree that they benefitted from receiving this support at the Success Center. 

Table 1 

FY 2022 Success Programs Top
Six Key Performance Indicators


FY22 SC % 

Percent of students who agree or strongly agree to the satisfaction survey question:  I am satisfied with and have benefited from my experiences in the Success Center. 


Thomas Mulherin named to the SWIC Foundation Board

Thomas Mulherin, Senior Vice President in Investments with Stifel Financial, has been named to the Southwestern Illinois College Foundation Board. As a member of the board, Mulherin will support the Foundation’s efforts to secure gifts for special educational and cultural activities that are not part of the college budget.

Within his newly appointed role, Mulherin brings decades of financial experience to the Foundation Board. Not only is he currently the Senior Vice President in Investments with Stifel Financial, but Mulherin has spent 25 years working specifically as a Retail Investment Advisor. He specializes in helping clients achieve their financial goals through financial planning and portfolio management.

In addition to his financial career, Mulherin furthered his experiences by serving on St. John’s Lutheran School Board of Education, along with being the President of said board. Currently, Mulherin serves on the St. John’s Lutheran Church Estate Committee. Alongside serving on community boards, Mulherin is a supporter of the local charity, Joshua’s Great Things. This charity raises money to fund pediatric brain cancer research as well as helping families with basic needs while taking care of a child in treatment.

Mulherin was born and raised in the Waterloo and Red Bud area, where he now resides with his wife and children. And given Mulherin’s background and experience within the local community, he is thrilled to be able to serve on SWIC’s Foundation Board where he can continue to help those around him.

Dr. Elizabeth Johns named to the SWIC Foundation Board

Dr. Elizabeth Johns, DNP, AGACNP-BC, PM-BC, Nurse Practitioner and Assistant Professor of Nursing at Maryville University, has been named to the Southwestern Illinois College Foundation Board. As a member of the board, Dr. Johns will support the Foundation’s efforts to secure gifts for special educational and cultural activities that are not part of the college budget.

In her new role, Dr. Johns brings decades of clinical and higher education experience to the Foundation Board. She has been serving her community in a myriad of ways through healthcare. Not only is Dr. Johns an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of the Adult Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program at Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri, but she also currently practices as an Inpatient Oncology/Hematology Nurse Practitioner at Washington University Siteman Cancer Center in Shiloh.

Dr. Johns is an alumnus of SWIC, having completed two years of her undergraduate work before transferring to Deaconess College of Nursing to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Dr. Johns received her Adult/Geriatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner degree from St. Louis University and went on to Maryville University to receive her Doctorate in Nursing Practice.

Given her chosen field, Dr. Johns is thrilled to be able to serve on the Foundation Board and continue to make a positive impact on the local community.

foundation board

SWIC’s Annual Plant Sale is here!

Dig out your gardening tools – it’s spring! The SWIC Horticulture program is selling reasonably priced plants, including vegetable plants, tropicals, perennials, annuals, and herbs. All plants at the sale were grown over the winter by SWIC students!

You can get your green thumbs (and fingers) on these plants at the annual Plant Sale April 20 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and April 21-22 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the SWIC Belleville Campus, 2500 Carlyle Ave. The sale will be held in the greenhouse, located on the southeast corner of campus behind the baseball fields.

“The SWIC Plant Sale is possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of our Horticulture students,” said SWIC Horticulture Program Coordinator Kurt Range. “The annual Plant Sale is a great way for our students to see their work come to life.”

Cash, credit, and checks will be accepted at the sale. Proceeds benefit the Horticulture program.

For more information about the plant sale contact Kurt Range at 618-235-2700, ext. 5135 or kurt.range@swic.edu.

The Screening of The Final 19

Southwestern Illinois College’s Veteran Services will host a screening event for the documentary, The Final 19.

The film follows the harrowing true story of Sergeant Dan Hefel and his journey as one of the final 19 prisoners of war to return from Vietnam. The film depicts his 1143 days spent in captivity, while also touching on life after the Vietnam War. In addition, this year marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the war.

The event will be hosted March 30 at SWIC’s Belleville Campus, in the Main Complex Theatre. Listed below is the schedule for the screening and panel discussion of The Final 19 with Sergeant Dan Hefel.

  • Meet and Greet with Sergeant Dan Hefel and Director Tim Breitbach.
  • 11 a.m. – Screening “A” and Q&A
  • 1 p.m. – Veteran Discussion Panel
  • 2 p.m. – Screening “B” and Q&A

“Hosting an event such as the screening of The Final 19 helps bring the community together,” said Veteran Services Coordinator Dan Nagel. “SWIC is honored to be a place where veterans can feel both seen and heard.”

SWIC has over 1500 enrolled Veterans as part of the GI Bill.

For more details about the screening of The Final 19, please contact Veteran Services Coordinator Dan Nagel at daniel.nagel@swic.edu

SWIC wins 1st in Mastercam Wildest Parts competition

SWIC Precision Machining Instructor, David Berry recently placed 1st in the Mastercam Wildest Parts competition!

Wildest Parts is a global event sponsored by Mastercam that gives both students and professionals opportunities to learn skills and earn prizes through CAD/CAM.

Within the Professional division, David Berry placed first among all of the participants! For his submission, Berry designed and created a desk piece, featuring a 12 blade, large wheel, compressor design. The part took a total of 2 weeks to fully create. One week was spent programming the parts and the next was spent proofing the program on the machine.

When creating a part from a blank piece of material, the machine needs about 10 hours to finish the project. Yet, despite the many hours spent on the part, Berry noted that the process helped broaden his knowledge of CAD when creating something with a multi-axis.

For more information on the Precision Machining Technology program, click here.