December grad encourages students to find their "why" on campus
December 22, 2020

My name is Madison Mitchell and I am from Mahomet, IL. For those of you who are familiar with the Champaign-Urbana area and know Mahomet is 15 miles west of campus, you may be wondering why I chose to attend a school practically in my backyard. Here are a few of the “whys” that were pretty influential: The 15:1 Student/Faculty Ratio, $3.5M dollars awarded in ACES Scholarships, 80% participation rate in experiential learning, a 77% four-year graduation rate, 94% employed or continuing graduation, and having 7 family members graduate from the College of ACES before me. Throughout my 4 years I saw those “whys” come to life and began to fully understand how impactful the College of ACES would be in my life.

We all have our “whys” that brought us to campus. Once you arrived on campus, whether you realized it or not, you began to write your own “ACES Story”. Pieces of your story may inspire younger generations and later translate to their “why” of wanting to earn a degree in the College of ACES. As you reflect on your “ACES Story”, I encourage you to think about ACES using this acronym: Adaptability, Connections, Experiences, and Success. First, Adaptability. The College of ACES faculty and staff served as an outstanding example for us as students during this unique and unprecedented time in our lives. They have provided us with opportunities to learn and understand the importance of adaptability and flexibility. Connections. Appreciating and utilizing the connections you have made with faculty and staff, employers, and alumni will be of great benefit to you upon graduation. Experiences. Whether you participated in an RSO, studied abroad, participated in group projects, we all had the opportunity to be a part of experiences that prepared us to be well rounded individuals. Lastly, Success. The College of ACES provides students outstanding opportunities for success. We’ve all seen this in a variety of ways — facilitating personal and professional development workshops, hosting career fairs, offering hands-on coursework that translates to the workforce, and having faculty and staff who genuinely care about students and take the time to have meaningful conversations with them.

No matter where your next steps in life take you, I hope you will value and appreciate the pieces of your ACES story, especially in the areas of Adaptability, Connections, Experiences, and Success. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and appreciate the opportunity to share with you today!

Madison graduated this December in Agricultural and Consumer Economics. She delivered the above remarks during ACES' December virtual Convocation Celebration.