Saluki Pride runs deep in Shahan Bellamy’s family. Two siblings earned degrees from SIU and an older brother, Dorian, is a senior majoring in sociology. An uncle is pursuing his master’s degree in psychology, and Shahan’s mom, Edwina, earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from SIU. They all are great ambassadors for our university.
Shahan, who graduated from Marion High School, is a junior majoring in cinema and photography, part of our College of Mass Communication and Media Arts. I enjoy visiting with him each month when I join host Jennifer Fuller for a radio interview on WSIU’s “Morning Edition.” Shahan handles the technical side of things for the program.
He didn’t start out as a Saluki. Shahan began his college career at Bradley University, but learned it did not have a cinema department.
“I had heard great things about the department here, and I loved the experience my family has had at SIU. I thought it would be a great fit for me,” he says.
Shahan admits he was a bit nervous transferring from Bradley, which is a private university and far smaller with an enrollment of 6,000 students.
“SIU has exceeded my expectations. And, growing up here, I thought I knew the university. I have met great faculty and made great use of the new media center in my college. I have learned tricks they use in Hollywood in my editing class and enjoyed my Africana Studies class. I was worried about it because it’s a big university, but it is because of that size and the resources here that I have had so many opportunities.”
Shahan loves the academic environment. He invests a great deal of time in reading and studying, and says he always is thinking about school because he enjoys learning. In fact, he took Latin in high school — he says “it was really cool” — because he wanted to learn how Latin influences modern language.
His goal is to help others learn, as well. He wants to earn his doctorate and teach at the university level, focusing on communication and culture, and how media affects people’s perceptions.
Shahan also is passionate about mental health issues. He and another student are in the process of forming a campus chapter of Active Minds, a national organization for college students that provides information, leadership opportunities and advocacy training. Active Minds has more than 350 campus chapters.
“Our goal is to educate people about mental health issues and the stigma, so students feel more comfortable talking about them with professors and others,” Shahan says. “I suffer from bi-polar disorder, so it has impacted my life.”
Shahan has been pleased with the help and support he has received through our Office of Disability Support Services and Student Health Services.
“I just want other students to know that there are options, that they don’t have to suffer on their own,” he says. “Active Minds is a good way to make your voice heard. Life can be difficult anyway, and when you put mental health issues on top of it, it gets more difficult.”
Through his commitment to helping others, Shahan is making a positive difference on our campus.
RITA CHENG is chancellor of SIU Carbondale. Her column appears weekly in Southern Plus.