An ACES Adventure
May 27, 2022

Graduating from the University of Illinois has been a dream of mine since I could remember; I cannot put into words the emotions I felt walking across the stage on graduation day. Those steps signified an accomplishment I’ve been working towards my whole life. Although the journey was coming to an end, it paved the way for a new and unexpected path. Before I talk about that though, I want to start from the beginning of my career.

I started my collegiate journey at Parkland College in the Parkland Pathways program; this is a perfect program for students wanting a smoother transition from high school to college. I felt more prepared for a university than I would have two years prior because of my experience at Parkland. I was thankful for my time there, but I was ready to move on to the next chapter. I must admit though—my first official day at UIUC was nerve-wracking.

The College of ACES was not what I expected from a Big 10 university though, and I was pleasantly surprised. The class sizes were comparable to Parkland and the professors created a welcoming environment for every student, no matter their background. I was majoring in Agricultural Communications but didn’t have much knowledge of the topic I would be communicating about. I grew up surrounded by agriculture, but I didn't have much information beyond the usual crops and farm animals. Although, this never proved to be an issue because there were people with so many different backgrounds. I learned about base-level agriculture, but also the environment and how food systems operate from start to finish. It didn’t take long for me to feel comfortable with the material and find a passion for my future degree.

As graduation was approaching, I was unsure of what my plans for the future would be. Luckily, I was able to put my degree to use before graduating and gain more useful knowledge through an internship at the ACES Office of Marketing and Communications (OMC). I am extremely grateful for the time I have had at ACES and even more so that I was able to continue my time here. I currently work with both the Web and Social Media teams, so I’m able to utilize my knowledge in different ways. I never expected to be working on web content strategy, but I have enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone. The OMC team has been incredibly welcoming and I’m so happy that I am able to support my alma mater through my work.

My advice for incoming students or undergraduates would be to try things that are uncomfortable. I wouldn’t have made it to where I am today without some discomfort. Also, you will hear this a lot, but cherish the time that you have in college; it goes by a lot faster than you realize. Mental health is a key factor in maintaining a school/work/life balance. Be sure to take time to appreciate the accomplishments you have made, whether big or small. And most importantly; give yourself time to rest. So many students become burnt out—but if you set aside time to rest, your mind and body will thank you.