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Voices of ACES Blog

How My Roots Run Deep at the University of Illinois

ALEC Freshman, Jennie Abbott on the Main Quad
ALEC Freshman, Jennie Abbott on the Main Quad

The purpose of roots is to act as a foundation: holding a plant straight and stable, and absorbing water from the ground to help it grow. The world's deepest root system reaches 400 feet under the ground. The deeper and larger the root system of a tree, the more strength the tree has to grow and spread its branches.

The University of Illinois is the “roots” of my life. In the 1930s, my great grandpa Bud was walking the same streets that I call home today and was sitting in agriculture classes like the ones I am taking now. He started the legacy of my family's education at the University of Illinois. Followed by him, my grandpa Tom studied in the College of Engineering, then my parents met in microbiology class while studying agricultural engineering during their time at the university. Branches from their trees, my siblings and I have followed in the family legacy. Two years ago, my brother, Jared, graduated with a mechanical engineering degree and my sister, Jamie, is currently a senior in agricultural and biological engineering. All the way up the root, here I am. I am a freshman in the College of ACES studying agricultural communications. Campus has evolved and technology has modified the way we learn, but some things never change. My family roots run deep here at the University of Illinois and now, I am thankful to call this university and the College of ACES home.

Growing up in a small town of just under 1800 people, I was worried about how life at such a big university would be. Just three years ago, I was set on going to a small rural college to find a community similar to the one I love back home. When I brought up my consideration of the University of Illinois, my family was ecstatic (no surprise there). They kept telling me, “I promise it feels small when you get there... you see so many familiar faces everyday... it is comfortable once you meet a handful of people” I could never wrap my mind around that. There are over 55,000 students on campus... How is that anything like home?

Coming up on the end of my eighth week living on campus, it makes sense now. Whether I am walking to class, getting lunch on Green Street, or sitting out on the Quad, I see a familiar face. I have made some of my closest friends in my ACES classes and living on campus. I joined Sigma Alpha, a professional agricultural sorority, along with a handful of many other major-related clubs that have grown my social network immensely. Being a part of the ACES family makes this big place feel like a small community.

The roots planted here by my family have given me security and comfort knowing the University of Illinois is the perfect place to kick-start my journey of becoming the person I want to be. They have given me the perspectives of past graduates who know the importance of soaking in every minute of the few short years I get to spend here. I am embracing every opportunity, branching out by trying new things, and creating my own roots here on campus.

I am grateful for this additional opportunity to be a part of the marketing and communications team in the College of ACES to share with others just how awesome this historic, beautiful, and community-based college is.