Student learns important lessons in, out of the classroom

Southern Illinois University



April 13, 2017


Student learns important lessons in, out of the classroom

Higher education teaches many lessons, and not all of them have to do with a student’s major.

For Allison Dartt, coming to SIU and studying computer engineering was a natural choice. Having always done well in math and sciences courses, she was looking for a way to sharpen her critical thinking skills, and the College of Engineering was a perfect fit for the Clarksville, Tenn. native.

“I wanted something that would challenge me and help me find ways to solve complex problems,” said Campbell, the daughter of Christy and Mark Campbell. “I also knew an engineering degree would be a great foundation for a variety of career paths, even if I decided not to stay technical.”

SIU, with its acres or picturesque campus and proximity to so many places of natural beauty and a national forest, also called to the young engineer’s heart as a high school student.

“I fell in love with SIU’s natural beauty and hospitality,” she said. “So when I became a Saluki, I wanted to give prospective students and their families that same experience. I became a Saluki Ambassador and helped give guided tours within my first month on campus. Serving as a tour guide and in leadership in this great organization has been one of the most rewarding experiences.”

A winner of a the prestigious SIU Chancellor’s Scholarship, Campbell threw herself into her college experience, earning top grades, securing two valuable internships, conducting research both at SIU and another university, serving as vice president of the Engineering Student Council, joining a sorority and serving as assistant director the SIU Leadership Conference.

She held it all together, but it was a bit much. And it taught her a valuable life lesson, as well.

“I was quickly in over my head and being pulled in too many directions. I wasn’t able to give my best self to any group or class,” she said. “I learned that it’s okay to say ‘no.’ I’ve always been a people pleaser and coming into college I said ‘yes’ to every opportunity. The great thing about college is that you can fall down, and that’s okay. You can just get right back up and try again, and that’s what I did. Eventually I learned how much I could handle and that I can definitely gracefully say ‘no.’”

Fiercely independent and self-motivated, her SIU experience also taught Dartt to appreciate the value and place of teamwork.

“I definitely was anti-teamwork coming into college and found it frustrating to work on projects with others,” she said. “But at SIU my perspective really changed. As a student supervisor at my on-campus job, team leader in group projects for class, and in leadership in student organizations, I learned that in order for the whole group to succeed, people need to be all in. I learned that I can’t do it all on my own. I began to look for what others enjoyed doing and what they really excelled at. Now, I can empower others and see the great value in and necessity of team work.”

Dartt also put the SIU alumni network to good use as a student, hitting it off with Matt Solverson, in the College of Engineering’s mentoring program.

“Matt offered job-hunting and interview advice and coached me through career decisions. From touring General Dynamics – where he works – to frequent meet-ups over lunch, he really helped me to stay grounded while finishing up my degree and applying for and eventually accepting a full-time positon. I am so grateful for his support,” Dartt said.

Now freshly graduated, Dartt has accepted a positon at Keysight Technologies in Colorado Springs, Colo., where she works as a digital marketing engineer. She started on Jan. 30.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to utilize my creative and customer service skills alongside my technical engineering knowledge,” she said.