Building 'Mile-long' Bridges in ACES
By Stephanie Henry
November 20, 2018

Remember George Bailey—rather the young George Bailey—in the beloved holiday movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life?” He thought he had life all figured out. The sky was the limit for him. George Bailey “lassos the moon” and all!

Remember this great line: “I know what I'm gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that. I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I'm gonna see the world. Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum. Then, I'm comin' back here to go to college and see what they know. And then I'm gonna build things. I'm gonna build airfields, I'm gonna build skyscrapers a hundred stories high, I'm gonna build bridges a mile long...”

If you know the movie well, you know that his life didn’t really turn out that way. It’s a sentimental movie about appreciating the life, family, and friends you have. But I especially like the takeaway of finding meaning in what you do and what you have in life, and discovering what really matters most to you.

Like young George Bailey, we have lots of young people who come to the University of Illinois with great big dreams to kick the dust of the towns they come from off their feet and build their own “mile-long bridges.” The good news is they have endless opportunities in the College of ACES to make those dreams come true. Hands-on learning opportunities, adventurous study abroad experiences, access to world-class research facilities, etc., all waiting for them when they arrive.

But there’s even more good news. When some of those students discover that the dreams they were chasing aren’t really what they wanted after all, ACES has resources to help them find a new direction. There are academic advisors and staff in the ACES Career Services office waiting to help students find the right path. I have met several ACES alumni, who started in one major, but discovered another field of study in ACES that excited them even more and led to rewarding careers.

Like George Bailey in the movie, it’s never too late to figure it out.

Whether you’re a student, the parent of a student, or a friend of the college, here’s wishing you a wonderful holiday season of finding happiness and what matters most to you in life.