Not sure what career path to take? Do what you love!

Feb 12
Jean Drasgow, Director of Career Services

Since Valentine’s Day is this week, I think I need to write about love. I’m not going to talk about romantic-love, I’m going to talk about work-love. I often get asked by students, “Can you find me the career I can do with this degree that I can make the most money?” I sink down in my chair because I feel like I’m arranging a marriage based on money rather than love.

I regroup and start probing to determine what gives this student the most joy. I ask questions like, “What activities do you do that when you do them, time flies by? Or “What work do you do that leaves you exhausted, but feeling accomplished?” When the students start talking about what brings them joy, I’ll see changes in their expression. Their eyes will light up, they’ll have smiles on their faces, and their body posture opens up—similar changes anthropologists observe when an individual is speaking about the person in whom they are in love.

So I can tell you the careers with higher-than-average earning salaries, but will your heart race with excitement when you head to work each day? Will your eyes light up when you are talking about your work? If you cannot dance into work most days, you may not be doing work that you love. So for this Valentine’s Day, give yourself a gift of finding a career that you love so that you will love what you do!

happy valentines day

Good times…and not so good times

Feb 12
Kathryn Martensen, Assistant Dean and Director of Advising

We all go through ups and downs in life, and to help get through difficult times, I am inspired by a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., that’s in a frame on the wall in my office. It says, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Good advice plus a delicious chocolate chip cookie from Bevier Café—that’s my recipe for staying strong when the going gets tough!

Painting the barn red

Feb 7
Marise Robbins-Forbes, ACES Director of Development, Crop Science and NRES
I was reminded this week that being a part of the ACES family doesn’t end with graduation or even with retirement. Several former students of much beloved agronomy professor, Dr. A.W. Burger (taught from 1953 to 1986), came back to campus to announce their fundraising initiative to renovate a Turner Hall classroom honoring Dr. Burger and his wife Phyllis. Flying, driving and skyping from four states, Mike and Cara Hardinger, Bill Kirk, Jerry Brookhart and wife Mary, Mark and Becky Baxa, Harold Reetz, Barb Schumacher, Sue Gray and Larry Hageman shared stories of how this dedicated teacher and his wife shaped their careers and impacted their lives. Through the classroom and through leadership of Field and Furrow, Dr. Burger’s high standards, frank guidance and passion for excellence made their mark. As Dr. Burger would say, we “painted the barn red!”
Dr. Burger honored

That was fun

Feb 7
Walt Hurley, Professor of Animal Sciences

One of the units that I use in the lactation biology course is about mastitis, an inflammation of the mammary gland. The unit consists of a lecture to help students frame their thoughts about the topic, extensive online background information (the “book”) and two online mastitis case studies that they can solve on their own. These are great case studies of mastitis in dairy cattle herds that were developed by Dr. Dawn Morin in Vet Medicine.

Few of the students have a background involving dairy cattle, lactation, or mastitis. To help them, we use an exceptional learning resource – the dairy farm. Students enjoy visiting the farms and it helps them put into context the basic concepts of dairy cattle management and facilities as they relate to mastitis. Students rotate among eight stations in groups while working to complete an assignment in which they relate the new information and each station to the online cases that they had previously completed.

Through this activity, they practice their vocabulary, gain a better understanding of underlying principles of mastitis, apply their on-site learning to the cases, analyze the facilities as they relate to mastitis, and evaluate the new information with respect to the cases. And, all that happens while bonding with their groups and learning from each other. What do they have to say about this adventure? “That was fun!”

This is only the beginning. Wait until you see what they are up to next.

Walt Hurley's Lab

Famous in ACES

Feb 6
Claire Benjamin, Senior in ACES

This week, I’ve felt famous. I had a literary feature article published in the News-Gazette on Sunday about being the last generation on my family farm. As if that wasn’t neat enough, I’ve received a tremendous response from my College of ACES professors, coworkers and friends. I’ve been overwhelmed with kind words, thoughtful emails, and even extra copies of the article. 

In the College of ACES, we are more than just an academic community. We are a family, and this week has made me realize that I couldn’t have chosen better.

Claire Benjamin

More than winning

Feb 5
Jennifer Shike, Director for Communications and Marketing

Running out of gas. Winning Louisville. Placing a class backwards. Meeting their spouse. Judging cattle in the bitter cold. Practicing oral reasons in the van. Throwing the coach in the swimming pool. Creating memories that would last a lifetime.

I couldn’t help but laugh along as students and alumni shared stories from their time participating on University of Illinois livestock and meats judging teams last Saturday night at their annual reunion. My husband Dan was looking forward to honoring the 2002 team, the first team that he coached by himself as a graduate student in the Department of Animal Sciences. Not only was this team extremely talented and motivated, but they also marked a year of change for the livestock judging team program.

In preparation for his introductions, Dan spent two hours looking up how the team placed at every contest. And when he met with the team before the banquet, not one of them could remember what awards they won. Now this wasn’t because they didn’t win any – they were one of the most successful teams in recent history and won the coveted year-end award. However, what they remembered and spent their time talking about were the friendships they made, the miles they traveled, and the things they learned along the way. Needless to say, Dan changed his introduction.

In the College of ACES, there are so many opportunities to gain experiences like these – experiences not remembered by winning or losing (though we do quite a bit of winning around here!), but experiences measured by friendships and lessons learned.

Illinois Judging Teams Banquet

My favorite day on campus

Feb 4
Ellen Reeder, Senior in ACES

If you ask me, every day on campus is a good day. I love the people I see, the things I’m involved in, and the opportunities I have here. But, when it comes to picking a favorite day on campus there is one day every year that is hard to beat. It even trumps the snow day we had during my freshman year. It’s practically a campus holiday. It’s ExplorACES.

ExplorACES is a two-day open house that is organized by students, for students. This event gives future students the opportunity to visit the college, ask questions, and experience what it’s like to be a student in the College of ACES.

When I attended ExplorACES as a sophomore in high school, I had no idea that I would eventually be one of the co-directors helping to plan this event. It’s amazing to look back and think about myself as that shy sophomore in high school. I was scared to death to talk to any of the students, and I made my parents do all the talking. I was just glad to be out of school for the day.

My mom brought this memory up the other day when I was visiting with her about how the ExplorACES 2013 planning is going. She reminded me of that quiet kid that was transformed by the end of the day. She said I never stopped talking on the way home. I’m sure it was a long three-hour drive for my parents, but I also think it’s symbolic of the many three-hour car rides they’ve spent visiting for Mom’s and Dad’s weekends, Homecoming, awards banquets, etc.

As the planning goes on, I am continually thankful for the alumni that started ExplorACES while they were students, the parents and future students that attend each year, and the committee of my peers and ACES faculty who are committed to the success of my favorite day on campus, ExplorACES.

Ellen Reeder and Amelia Martens at ExplorACES

Recruiting new students

Jan 31
Doug Parrett, Interim Head of the Department of Animal Sciences

It is exciting to be able to participate in ACES recruiting programs for next year’s new students. Animal Sciences has a large number of highly qualified students who are admitted and we are working hard to convince them to come to Illinois. Receptions, emails and YouTube are all contact methods that help us tell our story.

When this semester started, I was amazed that more than 200 of our undergraduate students are involved in internships, undergraduate research projects and experiences that occur outside of the classroom. Hands-on learning experiences are a valuable part of the Animal Sciences curriculum. We recognize that students need a good foundation of coursework to enable them to improve their decision-making and problem-solving skills. We are working hard to add group projects and hands-on labs to enhance their learning experience.

During spring break, we will host field trips for students with interests ranging from companion animals to dairy cows. We are proud of our diverse department and bright students who are highly motivated with a passion for animals and good sciences.

Working with Farm Animals course

India: A land of senses

Jan 30
Claire Benjamin, Senior in ACES

I knew I wouldn’t have time to study abroad for a semester when I hopped on the three-year graduation track, but that wasn’t about to stop me from making the most of the study abroad opportunities offered at the University of Illinois. Taking the GLBL 298 class that got me halfway around the world to India, was the best decision of my college career.

India is indescribable. It excites all of the senses: the smell of incense, the sound of honking cars, the sight of brightly colored saris, the taste of chi tea, and the feel of cold tiles under barefoot feet in Hindu temples.

I am so grateful that I stepped outside my college (and my comfort zone) to experience a beautiful and diverse country with a diverse group of students from across this campus.

Claire Benjamin in India

I see winners…I see them all the time

Jan 28
Kathryn Martensen, Assistant Dean and Director of Advising

Remember the kid in the movie The Sixth Sense? Well, here in ACES Academic Programs, I see a different—quite different, thankfully!—kind of people all the time. Award winners! I’m surrounded by them.

Amelia Martens, a senior in Agricultural Communications, was recently crowned Miss Illinois County Fair Queen (see for a photo of the official crowning). Amelia is an excellent student, an exceptional student leader, and just an all-around good person, so she’s always been a winner to me!

Dr. Laurie Kramer, the Associate Dean for Academic Programs and my supervisor, was just named the recipient of the 2013 University of Illinois Moms Association Medallion of Honor. The Medallion of Honor award was created in 1966 to pay tribute to those individuals who, by example and service, have used their talents to enrich the lives of others. Dean Kramer will be honored at a breakfast during Mom’s Weekend on April 13.

Sarah Adams, Office Manager in ACES Student Development and Career Services, is the newly-announced winner of the 2013 Marcella M. Nance Staff Award. One of the College of ACES’ Staff Awards for Excellence, the Marcella M. Nance Staff Award recognizes civil service support staff of the College of ACES for excellence in performance.

And there are others with pending nominations, so stay tuned!