STELLAR Student profile: Dawn Embry

Senior speech communication major Dawn Embry always wanted to enlist in the U.S. Air Force and hopes to work with congressional members after graduation, but she never imagined receiving SIUE’s STELLAR Student Award.

Photo courtesy of Dawn Embry

Embry said she was shocked to find out she was offered the award, which honors and develops “some of the star student achievers” in the College of Arts and Sciences, according to the STELLAR website.

“I didn’t know there was a STELLAR program. I didn’t know who would have nominated me,” Embry said, “and I was very excited because I’d only been here a semester before I had gotten the nomination.”

Embry, of Alton, transferred from Lewis and Clark Community College with an associate’s degree in science to pursue a bachelor’s degree in public relations. She said she chose speech communication because she loves all aspects of the program.

“I love writing. I love working with people. I love planning. It just seemed like a good fit all the way around,” Embry said.

Her ultimate career goal is to work with congressional members, but in the short term, Embry said she is considering pursuing a master’s of public administration (MPA) or a civilian internship with the U.S. Air Force.

As a political science minor, Embry is interested in the public service and non-profit aspects of an MPA program, but had earlier plans to join the Air Force. Embry said she was in Air Force Junior ROTC during high school and planned “to ultimately enlist.” However, she had two children and later suffered a spinal injury that required surgery, leaving her unable to enlist.

Gaining experience outside of the classroom, Embry is president of SIUE’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). She joined the organization after taking a class with speech communication professor Stacey Howard, who is the PRSSA faculty adviser and also the professor who nominated Embry for the STELLAR award.

“[Being involved in PRSSA] takes what we learn in the textbook into practice,” Embry said. “It also creates networking opportunities. I’ve met so many connections. It’s actually how I met the person for the internship for the air force, so it’ a great way to get your foot into the door.”

Embry also decided on SIUE because of family ties to the area and the university.

“I do have two children, and their father lives in Alton so it made him be able to still be a part of their lives,” Embry said. “Also my grandfather [Robert Fortado] was head librarian at Lovejoy Library and an English professor out here for many, many years. So I had fallen in love with the campus and university at a very young age.”

Embry’s Interests outside of school include writing poetry, reading and spending time with her family.

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