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Voices of ACES Blog

My journey at Illinois

Ben Riseman

When I reflect back on the beginnings of my journey at Illinois, I am so grateful for how things have played out and the position I am in now. When I was initially applying for college, I nearly didn't apply to Illinois at all. I had my heart set on going out of state for years, and because of this, I hadn't even considered making an application. Fortunately, when I told a friend this, they instantly made me question my decision and strongly advised that I reconsider. I think about that moment a lot. If my friend hadn't convinced me to change my mind, my life would be completely different, and I would have missed out on so many amazing experiences and opportunities. So, I ended up applying to the Gies College of Business as my first-choice major with major undeclared as a second choice, and then I waited.

I remember being in the middle of online class in high school when I got my decision from Illinois. I excitedly rushed to open the email but was met with a mixed feeling. While I had been accepted for the General Studies major, I had been turned down from the business school. Until this moment, I was certain that I wanted to study business in college and so with stubbornness, I decided that I wouldn't be going to Illinois. Months later when the emotional reaction had faded, I started to think a lot about what I really wanted to do. I started to look at Illinois more as a whole, and not just at one small aspect of the university. This led to me discovering the advertising program.

When I came to Illinois, I was in the very unusual position of being an undeclared major who knew exactly what they wanted to do. I filled my schedule with all of the classes needed to transfer majors, and I got involved in the American Advertising Federation (AAF), where I learned a lot about how real-world advertising work gets done. I have made some great friends in AAF and joining it was one of the best decisions I've made in college. After my freshman year, I successfully transferred into the advertising program, and I've loved it ever since.

Currently, I am a junior advertising major with a business minor. I am super excited to be joining the College of ACES Office of Marketing Communications with a focus on content creation. I'm especially looking forward to bringing all the things I've learned in my classes to the team to help in any way I can. I will conclude by saying again how grateful I am that everything has played out the way it did. It wasn’t what I expected, but I wouldn't change any of it. To anyone reading, if you are unsure or uncertain about things, have faith. Things may not go according to plan, but what you do next is what matters most.