Paul and Nikki Bell | William and Paula Bushelle

Paul and Nikki Bell | William and Paula Bushelle

The Will Bushelle Scholarship was established in 2014 by friends and classmates Nikki and Paul Bell, after Will’s tragic death in a car accident.

As an SIU student, Will was active in the university’s Leadership Development Program, a student- and faculty-lead RSO training program in the College of Engineering, Computing, Technology, and Mathematics that uses industrial projects, applied leadership experiences and personal coaches to prepare students for positions of leadership in their chosen professions.


Will Bushelle: kind, generous, loving, loyal, intelligent, strong, honorable and brave are just a few words that describe this hero. A hero is, by definition, a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities. Not many people leave this world a hero, but Will defined what a true American hero can be.

Will’s family taught him that education and self-discipline were essential for long-term success in life. As a child, he was proud to be an Eagle Scout, which instilled in him self-reliance and confidence. As a young man, Will knew that education would give him opportunities to realize his dreams. After graduating high school, Will acted on his other lifelong dream and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Will successfully completed basic underwater demolition/SEAL Training (BUDS/S) and was assigned to active service in SEAL Team 4.

With the honor of being a decorated Navy SEAL, Will’s focus turned toward his education which would establish a concrete foundation toward his path to success. Will attended Southern Illinois University where he worked on campus at the Student Recreation Center and continued to serve the U.S. Navy as a member of SEAL Team 8. Will worked hard to excel in his studies and always made time for community service and friendship while in school. Will earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology with a minor in Business Administration in 2004. Will was proud of his alma mater and believed his time on campus was the stepping stone for his future.

Will continued his service as a Navy SEAL after graduation, serving with SEAL Team 5 and SEAL Team 17. During his time with the SEALs, Will received the Navy Commendation Medal with Valor, Navy Achievement Medals, Meritorious Service Medals, Combat Action Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal and various other unit and service awards. In civilian life, Will began a career as a Manufacturing Engineer after graduation. Will always made time for SIU, teaching Engineering leadership classes virtually and providing career coaching to future graduates.

Will’s friends and family have created this scholarship to honor his memory and recognize the amazing life that he led. He fought wars, climbed mountains. married, made lifelong friends, and loved his family and country. To say Will lived life to the fullest would be an understatement; he set challenging goals and worked hard to achieve them. Our dear friend, Will Bushelle, was taken from us too soon. This scholarship is to honor his life and carry his memory forward for those who receive it.