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Alumna Bailey McGuire thrives in DC, thanks to SIUE faculty

SIUE alumna Bailey McGuire

Having battled addiction during her first two years of undergrad and facing many life difficulties, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville alumna Bailey McGuire was unsure if she would ever finish her degree. With support from SIUE’s applied communication faculty, McGuire earned her bachelor’s in May 2022 and has since then become the executive assistant to the president at BROOKINGS in Washington D.C.

Lacey Sonderegger, instructor; Wai Hsien Cheah, Ph.D., professor of health communication; and Sarah VanSlette, Ph.D., professor of public relations in the Department of Applied Communications, were a few of the many extraordinary faculty members that McGuire attributes her success to.

“I was going through an incredible difficult time in my life and Lacey could tell without words being spoken,” said McGuire. “She sat with me in the back of the classroom and conversed with me like a long-time friend would. Lacey helped me see that I could finish this degree when I didn’t want to finish it myself.”

“Bailey stood out to me on day one,” said Sonderegger. “She was incredibly bright and while I felt she was experiencing some personal challenges; it was very clear she had enormous potential. She has accomplished so much by her own tenacity, strength and personal power. It a privilege to be part of her story and journey.”

After finishing her degree, she landed her first job at BROOKINGS, and within two months, she was promoted and began her current position working with the president of the company, a role that typically requires much more experience than what McGuire offered. She attributes her success in her current role to the experience she gained at SIUE.

“SIUE prepared me for the hybrid work model, public speaking, professional communication and diverse communication styles,” McGuire said. “SIUE also taught me to be prepared, adhere to deadlines, and to look through a lens that not many in DC have due to political climates and affiliations. Having an unaltered view on work and work ethic in a non-partisan establishment is integral to form opinions and actions.”

McGuire loved her time in the Midwest at SIUE but is hoping to connect more SIUE alumni to jobs in our country’s capital. She also hopes to support current students with accountability and encouragement, just as her faculty members did for her during her time at SIUE.

“I hope to stay connected through helping current students step into fields they might think they are not qualified for,” McGuire said. “I will always advocate for a fellow Cougar.”

Central to SIUE’s exceptional and comprehensive education, the College of Arts and Sciences offers degree programs in the natural sciences, humanities, arts, social sciences and communications. The College touches the lives of all SIUE students, helping them explore diverse ideas and experiences, while learning to think and live as fulfilled, productive members of the global community. Study abroad, service-learning, internships and other experiential learning opportunities better prepare SIUE students not only to succeed in our region’s workplaces, but also to become valuable leaders who make important contributions to our communities.

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