Pair with potential interviews for SIU’s top scholarship

By Jessica Brown @BrownJessicaJ, Daily Egyptian

SIU may be seeing double in Fall 2015.

William and Matthew Galik, 17-year-old Carterville High School seniors, interviewed this past weekend for the Chancellor’s Scholarship at SIU.

Being born 16 minutes apart is about the only discrepancy in the list of accomplishments these twins have accumulated. 


The Chancellor’s Scholarship is a full ride worth more than $85,000 over the four years of an undergraduate program, and is being awarded to about 25 of 476 finalists. Those not receiving the Chancellor’s Scholarship are still eligible for the University Excellence scholarship, which is full tuition renewable for four years, valued at about $34,000.

Chancellor’s and University Excellence Scholarship Interview Weekend consisted of interviews with some 460 applicants along with campus tours, the opportunity to sit in on classes and an RSO expo.

Rae Goldsmith, university spokeswoman and interview panelist, said the interview, though important, is not the only way candidates are evaluated.

“You’re looking for students who have done their homework about SIU,” Goldsmith said. “We need students who are ambitious and who will bring a lot to campus. We’re looking for bright students who are capable of being leaders here.”

Matthew, who plans to study physics, and William, who will study mechanical engineering, are strong applicants who agree there is more than one aspect to consider when awarding the scholarship.

“A person with good test scores who’s not involved? I don’t know if a college would want someone like that,” William said. “They want someone who’s well-rounded, who’s good at academics, who can relate to other people, be involved with the community and make a good influence.”

Though test scores are not the only factor considered, the twins certainly have them covered.


Each earned a perfect 36 on his ACT last April– Matthew scored a 36 in each of the four categories, and William had a 36 in each category except science, in which he earned a 35.

“We’ve taken them three times total,” Matthew said of the test. “When we were in eighth grade, we each took them and got 29’s. In the fall of our junior year I got a 35 and William got a 34, and in April, we took them and we both got 36’s.”

They said they credit their strong test scores to commitment to studies, as well as the cumulative preparation they had received during the three years of high school before taking the test.

“We didn’t really study super hard before,” Matthew said. “It’s difficult to cram for the ACTs. You have to be really well-prepared.”

The twins’ academic success is not limited to test scores.

Both have a 4.174 GPA on a weighted scale for all of high school—the highest GPA a Carterville High School student can receive. Matthew said they have taken various advanced placement and honors classes as well.

“We’re really involved in school and academic clubs,” William said. “We’re both co-captains of the rocket club and we’re in astronomy club.”

They are also members of Spanish club, the National Honor Society and the Scholar Bowl.

William and Matthew are candidates to be Presidential Scholars, too. They are in the process of finishing their essays and applications, which will then be reviewed to determine the victors. If the twins are among the 140 to win, they will get to go to the White House to receive a medal. About 3,900 high school students nationally are nominated for the award each year.

Though academics play a major role in their lives, the twins are also dedicated athletes.

Matthew and William have played basketball since they were young and plan to continue in college.

“There’s a good chance that we’ll be going to SIU, so hopefully we could walk onto the basketball team there,” Matthew said. “We are really excited that we have a chance to play in a Division I program.”

They are also considering playing basketball at Washington University in St. Louis and Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington.

When not preoccupied with academics and basketball, the twins can be found working on their music.

William has played guitar for eight years, and Matthew has played piano for 10 years.

“We actually have our own little jazz band,” William said.

The band, known as The Galaxy, includes the twins’ older brother on the drums and a friend as an upright bassist. They write their own songs as well as perform covers.

“Matthew’s a creative genius on the piano, so he makes some pretty awesome songs for us to play,” William said.

They said they want to get to the point where they can do live shows.

“We’ve done a couple outdoor shows; one in Johnston City and one at the Carbondale Community Library,” William said. “We’re hoping to get into a bigger jazz scene and maybe play in some restaurants.”

In addition to playing for The Galaxy, they are also members of their high school’s jazz band.

As a result of their engaged lifestyle, the twins rarely have any free time.

“We get extremely stressed sometimes,” Will said. “With all the scholarships that we’re doing, basketball and music, sometimes we get a little uptight.”

When the stress becomes unmanageable, Will said a break is necessary. “I’ll just watch a movie or something to take my mind off of things, then attack them with a free mind.”

However, the hectic schedule is a part of their lives.

“We’re so used to it,” said Will. “We’re always busy and we never have free time.”

As they grow older and more independent, they depend upon themselves to stay motivated rather than relying on being pushed by others.

“We’re naturally curious people, so we’re always trying to learn and better ourselves,” Will said. “If we take a day off we feel like we cheated ourselves a little bit, so I think that’s what kind of keeps us going.”

If selected, the twins would be part of the Saluki Scholars Program, in which scholars must maintain a 3.0 GPA, complete community service hours and attend events and activities to renew the award each year.

Recipients of the scholarships will be notified by March 7.