So many members of the Scheller family have attended Southwestern Illinois College that they practically need a scorecard to keep track of who graduated with which degree in which year.
In all, 17 family members have attended the college starting with LeRoy (Wes) Scheller of Belleville, from 1955-56 when the institution was known as Belleville Junior College. Seven of his nine children followed suit along with two sons-in-law and four daughters-in-law. Three grandchildren have attended so far, the most recent being grandson Keenai Sampson, who attended SWIC dual credit classes at Collinsville High School from 2014-15. Granddaughter Tyme Sampson is currently in the Running Start program for high school students pursing an associate degree.
“It was close to home and inexpensive,” Wes said. “I think I received an education I couldn’t and wouldn’t have received any other place.”
Wes earned his Associate in Science Degree in Pre-Engineering and went on to earn a Bachelor’s in Engineering from Washington University. He retired in 1994 from Rock Hill Mechanical Corp., where he worked as a mechanical estimator. He believes his experience at the college helped him prepare for his career.
“I felt I could compete with anyone from any school,” he said.
His daughter, Jean Scheller-Sampson of Maryville agrees. Her classes, and her job in the Belleville Campus Library while she was a student, at then Belleville Area College helped foster her love of learning and launched her career in education.
“By the time I graduated from BAC, I realized I really did like to learn and wanted to keep going to school,” she said.
After earning her Associate in Arts Degree in 1981 from BAC, she went on to earn her Bachelor of Business Administration Degree and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology Degree from McKendree University; and Master of Arts Degrees in Human Resources Development and Management, and a Doctor of Management Degree, all from Webster University.
Today she is a chair and professor of management and marketing at McKendree University.
Affordability was a major factor in choosing SWIC for the Schellers. When Wes attended, tuition was only $5 per credit hour, and he received a $2 per credit hour discount for his military service. For his grandson, Michael Scheller of Edwardsville, being able to complete his general education classes at SWIC helped him save money to transfer to a university.
“SWIC provided the opportunity to complete my electives at a cheaper cost than a four-year school, which provided the financial flexibility to then pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree,” he said.
Michael earned his Associate in Science Degree with a concentration in Business Administration in 2002, his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration in 2004 and his Master of Business Administration Degree in 2006, both from Eastern Illinois University.
He is a manager of Pharma Review Operations at Express Scripts in St. Louis.
“Without the additional education, I would not have been able to get my foot in the door at my first and current employer,” Michael said.
For Tyme, the SWIC Running Start program was a great way to get ahead. Running Start allows highly qualified high school juniors to earn a high school diploma from their local high school or homeschool while simultaneously earning a degree from SWIC. She will earn her diploma from Collinsville High School and her associate degree from SWIC at the same time.
“So far, my favorite memory would have to be almost every anthropology class I have had, the students normally get really into that class,” she said.
Athletics has also played a large part in the Scheller family experience at SWIC. Jean and her sisters, Susan and Judy, received volleyball scholarships. Her brother Paul earned a baseball scholarship and her brother Gary, a basketball scholarship. Michael received a tennis scholarship. Jean also earned a volleyball scholarship to play at McKendree, which helped further her education.
They all agree: SWIC is a great place to start your education, especially for a student who is undecided on a major or a career path.
“I was able to complete electives and determine the career path I wanted,” Michael said. “There was a wide variety of classes to take, which allowed a student to get insight into different careers.”
For more information about SWIC academic programs, scholarships and the athletic program, visit swic.edu.