Student Alumni Mentoring Program Award Winners Announced

Joliet, Ill. –  The University of St. Francis (USF) Alumni and Family Services Office announced today the winners of its annual Student Alumni Mentoring (SAM) program.

Through the SAM program, alumni mentors serve as a guide, friend, and resource who shares educational and professional experiences to provide career guidance and professional contacts with their student matches. Mentors are partnered with students based on similar career paths, interests, and goals and commit to two events per academic year – an induction reception in November and an etiquette dinner in February. Additionally, mentors commit to a minimum of one conversation per month with their mentees. The program runs for a six-month period (November through April) during each academic year and partners with the USF Career Success Center to create a robust, professional program for both students and alumni.

This year’s SAM program award winners include:

  • Mentor of the Year Award: Madison Blackwood ’15 – Manager for Membership Services & Events at the Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce (nominated by her student match, Liz Badalamenti, a marketing major with minors in communication, media arts and finance at USF);
  • Mentee of the Year Award: Cameron Moore – senior marketing major at USF (nominated by her alumni match, Carol Sheetz ’18, ’19);
  • Superstar Mentor Award: Sue Smith ’04 –Assistant Director of Graduate & Degree Completion Admissions at USF (nominated by her student match, Nicole Kulon, a management major at USF);
  • Superstar Mentor Award: Sharon Dalinis ’04 – Director of Client Services at All Campus (nominated by her student match, Clarissa Barkley, a marketing major with a psychology minor at USF);
  • Superstar Mentee Award: Andriana Acosta – junior-level international business and marketing major at USF (nominated by her alumni match, Keith Schomig ’13, ’17);
  • Superstar Mentee Award: Danny Griskell – senior management and marketing major at USF (nominated by his alumni match, Keith Schomig ’13, ’17), and;
  • Superstar Mentee Award: Fran Zarate – social work and psychology student who is beginning her master’s degree in social work degree at USF (nominated by her alumni match, Heather Poma ’02, ’11).

“We are incredibly proud of this program. Students learn beyond the classroom from alumni who graciously share their professional experience. We look forward to another great year,” said Aubrey Knight ’04, ’07, USF Director of Alumni and Family Relations.

Knight added that USF alumni interested in applying to be a mentor for next year’s program can do so now at Applications are due by Friday, Sept. 25.

The Student Alumni Mentoring program was established in 2012 as a way to bring students and alumni together to help to pave a path for students to succeed at USF and beyond. It also provides our alumni with great reason to stay engaged with their alma mater. Since its inception, the SAM program has graduated close to 1,000 student participants. Visit for more information on the program.

: :

Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, the University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

# # #