ANNA — Southern Illinois University's basketball coach, Barry Hinson, led with his coaching this morning, his big full voice filling the packed auditorium at Anna-Jonesboro Community High School, where he was talking about bullying.
Hinson encouraged the students to stand up to bullying and then to work at improving communications, spending some time in face-to-face interactions instead of via social media.
He told the crowd that he looked at them when he attended their football game against Du Quoin, getting a chance to see what they were like.
"I'm excited for this school, because everything is contagious," Hinson said. "What I saw your football team do, what I saw your band do, what I saw your cheer team do, what I saw your student body do, what I saw your community do was absolutely outstanding. Thumbs-up emoji, no poopie emoji, whatever the fricking emoji is you use to get excited. But this place, Anna-Jonesboro High School, has got it going on."
Hinson was not invited out to the school in response to any particular problem, but just to share with the youth, one of the school's football coaches, David Sullivan, said. Sullivan said he is on a committee with Hinson, who visited the school about five years ago.
"Any school's got some problems, to some degree," Sullivan said. "But I think for the most part we have a great school here."
Hinson encouraged the children to practice compassion toward each other, especially initiating conversation with someone who might not look so happy, standing up for others and living lives of purpose.
"I love being here today and talking to you," Hinson said. "I love what I do. If you don't love what you're doing, stop and find what you do love because life's too short," Hinson said to applause.
One of the students, high school basketball standout Jake Parr, said the one thing he was impacted by was what Hinson said about being on the alert for and standing up to bullying.
"(From that I learned to) step up for that individual and help them out," Jake said.
Students like Heidi Mitchell and Lexi Smith, both 17, said they like that Hinson used humor to get his point across and relate to the students.
"He was able to relate to the students a little bit more, so we wanted to listen," Heidi said.
"That showed that he was actually interested in the school and not just coming here and saying a speech," Heidi said. "He wanted to make an impact on us."
"He related a lot back to football and how we have such a great community and how football is really bringing us together, and how that needs to carry over and we need to be like that every day, in our every day lives," said Heidi, who plays volleyball for the school.
"He was awesome," 17-year-old Jacob Zimmerman, a basketball player at the school, said. "He involved comedy (to talk about) touchy subjects … like bullying."
CARBONDALE — Celina Maniece is a proud double alumna of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, so she was quick to partner with the university’s Small Business Development Center for help in developing, testing and marketing a new app and business. Her BizClips project, which also involves SIU students and local businesses, seeks to connect businesses, professionals and consumers through video-based imagery.
Maniece, currently of Laredo, Texas, grew up in Du Quoin and earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2006 and her master’s in workforce education and development in 2010. After years of research, she conceived the concept for a company and app to help business owners decrease marketing expenses while streamlining their hiring process.
As Maniece began to develop her company and app, she reached out to the SIU Office of Economic and Regional Development for technical assistance in Southern Illinois. The professional, interactive, video-based social media networking app and site is now in the research and development phase.
In early spring 2017, Maniece began collaborating with the Illinois Small Business Development Center at SIU. Robyn Laur Russell, director of business development and international trade, and Greg Bouhl, SBDC director, are providing assistance to Maniece regarding conceptualization, development and programming of the app as well as business processes and how to monitor company and product development.
They also assisted her in the earlier stages of app development in learning to evaluate the work of programmers. In addition, they’ve lent their expertise in creating marketing messaging to make it appealing to the public.
The SBDC has helped her conceptualize different ways and places to market the app, which Russell characterizes as a “fun, interactive, turbo-charged link between students, companies, professionals and the public that could revolutionize how people and businesses connect.”
BizClips is designed to help businesses and professionals seeking employment connect. Consumers can also get involved as they can learn about and rank businesses and their products or services. The SBDC is working to connect BizClips with SIU students and with businesses in the region to help test the app before it goes mainstream. Students who are interested in being involved in the cutting-edge product testing, providing feedback regarding functionality and utilization, can join a private beta test group that will launch in October.
Maniece, a member of the SIU Alumni Association, is looking for up to 200 SIU students from the region as well as additional businesses. Interested parties should send their email address (Android-based) or Apple ID, along with information as to whether they are SIU students or area businesses to email@example.com by Friday, Oct. 13. They will in turn soon receive the beta version of the app.
Along with early free access to the app and the benefits it offers, those involved in the testing will also be able to connect with counterparts in Texas who are simultaneously testing it as well. The combined data and input from testing in the two pilot regions will be used to improve the app before it goes to market.
Maniece is also working with Norma Rodriguez, certified business adviser at the SBDC at Texas A&M International University in Laredo. Russell notes that Maniece, through working with the SBDCs in the national network, became “small business management certified” and that this entire project shows how people, universities and agencies can collaborate to foster success.
The SIU connection will continue in the future, too, Russell said. Chelsea Robbins, an SIU marketing alumna from Du Quoin who attended SIU from 2003 to 2004, is serving as the point person for BizClips in Southern Illinois, and plans are underway for Maniece to work with SIU marketing classes as they offer their expertise, just as they frequently do for other area businesses.
“The collaboration involving SIU and the SBDC with BizClips is a perfect example of knowledge creation and expanding partnerships that support innovation,” Russell said.
The Illinois Small Business Development Center/International Trade Center is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and is hosted by SIU Carbondale. For more information about the center and many services it provides to new and expanding businesses, visit www.sbdc.siu.edu, call 618-536-2424 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.