Before Illinois graduates go on to change the world, we asked them to share the places on campus that changed their lives. Explore campus through the eyes of our graduating Illini.
Lucas Gliozeris, Actuarial Science
Art and Design Building
“During my first semester at Illinois, I took a painting class just because it sounded like fun. I didn’t consider myself an artist by any means, but I was determined to try new things in college.
While my schedule was filled with economics and calculus, I found myself spending most nights in the Art and Design building working on painting assignments. I would focus on math-heavy coursework during the day, and then I would go to paint until at least midnight multiple times per week. The class introduced me to painting, which I still practice to this day. However, the importance of the location is it was the first place on campus where I discovered something completely new about myself.
As a freshman, I didn’t think I had anything left to learn about who I was or my capabilities. I didn’t think I could forge completely new talents in fields I had never been interested in. This university has shaped me, helping me discover new things about myself constantly, and the catalyst was a painting class in the Art and Design building.”
Xavier Morgan, Agricultural Communications
Funk ACES Library
“The ACES Library has played a major role in my studies—it’s also my favorite library on campus.
A hub of everything ACES, several of my accomplishments started right here, from co-founding an organization that promoted food security, sustainable systems, and human livelihood to planning a conference for people from all over the world to come to our wonderful university to network with administrators and people who advocate for global food security. Overall, the ACES Library has served as a home for my college experiences here at Illinois.”
Joe Clark, Wind Band Conducting
“When I came to Illinois as a master’s student in wind band conducting, I knew about the historical nature of the program. However, I had no idea about the Sousa Archives, a remarkable source of both inspiration and knowledge that was down the hall from my office in the historic Harding Band Building.
When I looked into putting on a basset horn recital, the band only had two basset horns. With the help of the Sousa Archives, we were able to restore one of the basset horns in their collections to allow us to perform a basset horn trio. Thanks to the Sousa Archives, I’ve been able to expand and share my knowledge of music with others. I was able to give a presentation on historical clarinet-type instruments to a visiting high school, including a large number of instruments I never expected to be able to see, never mind play.”
Kate Donlin, Mechanical Engineering and Medieval Studies
Illinois Fire Service Institute
“At Illinois, I unexpectedly discovered my passion for fire protection engineering.
My work in the research department at the Illinois Fire Service Institute has allowed me to meet some of the most highly respected professionals in the field, learn critical firefighting techniques, and perform experiments intended to help keep people safe.”
Stephen Cohn, Broadcast Journalism
Illinois Ice Arena
“When I came to college, I knew I wanted to do some sort of sports broadcasting. I imagined those sports would be the ones I’m familiar with, mostly baseball and basketball. Yet I ended up doing the play-by-play and color commentating for more than 75 Illini hockey games during my time in college—a sport I had never even come close to watching before my time at the university.
The ‘Big Pond,’ as we affectionally call it, at the Illinois Ice Arena helped me grow as a broadcaster and journalist, but also as a leader and mentor to those who were younger than me trying to get involved. After spending most of my Friday and Saturday nights at the Ice Arena during my final three years at Illinois, there’s certainly no place that’s played a more significant role in my journey as a student.”
Kealie Vogel, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
Plant Biology Conservatory
“As an NRES student, there are times during the winter when I miss the sight of lush greenery and brightly colored flowers. Luckily, there’s a place on campus that’s perpetually filled with brightness and blossoms—the Plant Biology Conservatory. I’ve spent countless hours working on research and my resulting senior honors thesis in the conservatory, drawing inspiration from the cycads, orchids, and banana trees.
The conservatory might be Illinois’ best-kept secret, but I don’t intend to keep it that way! My parents request a trip to the greenhouses every time they come visit campus, and you can spot me enthusiastically encouraging current and prospective students alike to check out the conservatory through my work as a student ambassador in NRES. I’ll be continuing on as a graduate student at Illinois in the fall, and I fully intend to keep coming back to the conservatory for years to come.”
Amari Banks, Advertising
The Undergraduate Library (UGL)
“Every semester, I would stay at the undergraduate library to meet up with friends and work through my assignments. The UGL was the center of my college experience, shared equally with my college family.
Over the past four years, I have never quite found a place that felt truly like home until I stepped foot in the UGL. I created some of my best work in the media commons, shared impactful conversations in Espresso Royale, and learned more about campus on the quiet floor. I would be lost without having the UGL as my prime resource.”
Darren Liu, Civil Engineering
Newmark Civil Engineering Building, Crane Bay
“I take a majority of my classes across the street from where I went to high school. While I’ve come a long way on my engineering journey, I haven’t gone far in my geographic one. Having spent my entire life in Champaign-Urbana in and around campus, Illinois will always have a special place in my heart.
When I was applying to college, I was torn between two career paths: civil engineering and cello performance. I was quite literally split between the occupations of my parents—my dad being a civil engineering professor and my mom being a musician. While I chose to study engineering, I never lost track of my artistic side. In my heart I’m still very much a performer, and I managed to combine that with the technical aspects of engineering. Illinois was the perfect place for me to achieve all of my goals.”
Sara Araghi, Molecular and Cellular Biology
Activities and Recreation Center (ARC)
“Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of today’s fastest rising sports. The grappling art incorporates techniques from a range of martial arts, such as Judo. It is also one of the central components of Mixed Martial Arts, my original background.
Serving as president of the Illini Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Club has been the most impactful and rewarding experience of my undergraduate career—and it all took place at the ARC. Here, I was able to help build an oragnization from four members to a 60-member roster. I helped rebrand the club on social media, arrange regular practices, and appoint official student coaches. From recruiting efforts to organizing a competition team, I became a voice for the campus combat sports community. Being able to share my Jiu Jitsu experience helped give our organization more visibility to the campus community.”
Joan Tessalonika, Accountancy
“I came to Illinois as a transfer student my junior year. My first semester, I was immediately thrown into the preparation of fall career fair. All my friends had their resume vetted, elevator pitch prepared, and everything. I, on the other hand, still had boxes unpacked in my apartment living room. My resume was empty, and I didn’t even know what an elevator pitch was.
I decided to join Ascend Pan-Asian RSO, which met in Wohlers Hall. This organization taught me how to better prepare myself for recruiting season. I made friends who helped me practice my elevator pitch and gave me so many mock interviews. I am proud to say that because of their help that I managed to land a summer internship with Ernst & Young. Most importantly, I found my best friends in Ascend who made my transition to Illinois a little easier and warmer.”
Scarlett Davalos, Social Work
The School of Social Work
“The incredible and supportive staff at the School of Social Work has made this building vital to my success. As a transfer student coming to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I was overwhelmed with emotions of excitement and nervousness. It was through the faculty and staff at the School of Social Work that I was able to calm my nerves and make my transition to this university a pleasant one.
The faculty and staff at the School of Social Work want to see their students succeed and help in doing so. I am so grateful to have been accepted to such a wonderful school, where staff and faculty truly care about their students academic and personal success.”
Nattapon Jaroenchai, Geography and GIS
Asian American Cultural Center
“The Asian American Cultural Center is an important place on campus for me because it’s where most of my friendships have started. I’m a graduate student in geography and GIS, and this place has become my second home. The cultural center hosts a broad range of events from all types of cultural backgrounds. From Japanese cuisine to international movies week, I was able to make so many friends just by attending all that the center has to offer. Here, we cook new foods, learn about different cultures, and feel comfortable doing so.”
Daniela Cabrera, Theatre, Scenic Design
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts
“The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts became my place since my first year as a graduate student. Every one of its rooms to even its hallways became an important place to tell my story as a set designer.
I have designed drama, musical, and opera sets in all kind of rooms from the properties shop to the theater itself. I have always found a place where my creativity can be free. Krannert’s hallways have celebrated all my success and have been there to see my failures. I was never afraid to try again and test out new ideas while surrounded by amazing people.”