Join ACES in celebrating the Class of 2021! Through a challenging year, these students have persevered and shown what it means to be part of the ACES family. Here, a few of our graduating seniors share the challenges and successes of their time in ACES, as well as advice for their classmates.
Juhi Shah – Food Science and Human Nutrition major with a concentration in Dietetics/minor in Social Work
What are you doing after graduation? After graduation, I'm going to Boston University to get my master's in Nutrition and complete my Dietetic Internship! My dream is to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and work with people with eating disorders in underserved communities.
What’s a piece of advice you would give incoming freshman? As cheesy as this sounds, get out of your comfort zone and try new things! When I came into U of I, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I took some random classes, joined some clubs, and met people I never would have if I didn't take the leap. Although some of those things were a hit and miss, I don't regret anything I did over the past 4 years. UIUC has so much to offer and I guarantee that you'll find what you love to do if you get out there and look!
What has been the best part of your college experience, especially in the College of ACES? One of the best parts of my college experience has to be being a part of the FSHN community. I've met so many of my incredible friends through FSHN and the faculty are always rooting for you! Most of all, I'll dearly miss working at Bevier Cafe and their chocolate chip cookies:)
What have you learned this past year during the pandemic? During this past year, I've learned that we are all so resilient. There were definitely times this year where I was mad that the pandemic ruined my senior year and felt total FOMO of all the things that I could have done. But I think making the best out of a unique situation like this is something that we'll all be grateful for. Even though this isn't exactly how I imagined my last year at U of I would go, I made amazing memories with my friends that I'll cherish forever. I had such a fantastic 4 years here and I will miss everything about Champaign-Urbana. ILL!
Katelyn Eathington – Agribusiness Markets and Management/minor in Public Relations
What are you doing after graduation? The one good thing about remote work and learning is that I started my full-time, after graduation role in February, as a Talent Acquisition Partner at CGB Enterprises, Inc.
What’s a piece of advice you would give incoming freshman or next year’s seniors? If this past year has taught you anything it's to make sure you're spending time with your loved ones and enjoying the stage of life you are in! Your college years fly by fast, and if you don't take the time to enjoy them you will miss out on so much.
What has been the most challenging part of your college experience? When I started out, I said “yes” to everything which meant my plate was spread super thin. I realized I needed to prioritize my commitments and only say “yes” to things I truly enjoy.
What has been the best part of your college experience, especially in the College of ACES? The ACES family is one of a kind and when they say you're a family, they mean it. Some of my best college experiences have happened in Mumford Hall either getting guidance from advisors and faculty, learning an important lesson from a professor, or working in the College of ACES Dean's Office and seeing all the work that goes into this great college. The faculty and staff in the College of ACES want to see you succeed just as much as you do and that is so rare to find.
What have you learned this past year during the pandemic? During the pandemic, I truly learned the value of living in the moment since there weren't many moments we had with other people. I also learned that although for me it was hard missing out on monumental events, the entire world was going through this same experience of having certain monumental life events taken away. Rather than sulking or feeling sorry for myself, it taught me to live in the moment going forward and recognize that life throws you so many curve balls that just make you appreciate your moments even more!
Cyrus Arnieri – Animal Sciences with a concentration in Companion Animals
What are you doing after graduation? After graduation, I am taking a year off and committing to a year of service through AmeriCorps. I will be working for I Have a Dream in Milwaukee assisting college students with resources, resume building, and their academics. After my year of service, I plan on going to graduate school on an animal behavior path with the hopes of becoming a professor of animal sciences. It took me a while to find this path, as I came into the college hoping to become a veterinarian, but quickly realized this path was not for me. I struggled to find my way and began reaching out to my professors. Through the guidance of Dr. Fischer and Sarah Richardson, I was able to discover my passion for teaching and research and apply myself to this field.
My favorite part of my experience here at the University of Illinois has been working with the faculty. I have been a part of the Animal Science Ambassador team for two years and have been able to closely work alongside Katelyn Hamlow as I took on a video editing internship for the department. This past semester, I was also a teaching assistant for ANSC 101 under Dr. Anna Dilger.
My advice to any incoming freshman is to reach out to the faculty! They are here to help you and want to see you succeed.
Austin Parish – Plant Biotechnology, the new major in the Crop Sciences department
What are you doing after graduation? After graduation I am staying in Champaign and working at Gener8tor’s AgTech Accelerator as a Program Manager
What’s a piece of advice you would give incoming freshman or next year’s seniors? I would say that there is more to college than just the classroom. There are many great connections to be made, so make sure to reach out and take your time in college to build a strong network.
What has been the most challenging part of your college experience? The most challenging part for me was learning how to manage my time and keep track of assignments. Having an ibook helped me sort this out.
What has been the best part of your college experience, especially in the College of ACES? I have really enjoyed my classes here. My major is a smaller group of people and once we all got into our upper-level classes, we were able to connect with each other and the faculty to have a great learning environment. Everyone is willing to help each other, and the faculty are invested in your success.
What have you learned this past year during the pandemic? In the last year, I have really learned to be adaptive. I was just getting used to having longer classes when online classes hit and that really messed me up. The pandemic was a great opportunity for me, however, to embrace change and explore opportunities that I would not have otherwise. Those opportunities lead me to my next position and the start of my career.
Veronica Casey – Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences
What’s a piece of advice you would give incoming freshman or next year’s seniors? My advice is to show up! Show up to NRES seminars, club meetings, community events, office hours, and everything in-between. The best memories of my college career have been the moments when I spontaneously decided to go to a club meeting or community event. I have met the most incredible people at UIUC, from passionate student activists to friendly professors, and they have changed my life for the better. UIUC has so much to offer, you just need to show up and find it!
What has been the best part of your college experience, especially in the College of ACES? The best part of my college experience has been undergraduate research. I worked in a Crop Sciences and Soil Sciences lab, and both experiences allowed me to apply my classroom knowledge. I was able to create and run my own experiments while learning from the graduate students. The professors were incredible mentors and helped me realize that I wanted to pursue research as a career!
What have you learned this past year during the pandemic? I learned that the best way to cope with stress and burnout is to connect with friends. I am so grateful for my support system of NRES friends, kind professors, and amazing roommates for believing in me when I felt weighed down by work and the pandemic.