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Illinois in my roots
On the day I graduated from the University of Illinois, my brother leaned in to hug me and whispered in my ear, “Your grandfather would be so proud of you! He loved this university!”
With the sesquicentennial anniversary celebration of the University of Illinois kicking off later this month, I am reflecting on the university’s role in my family, as well as thousands of others across this state and beyond. The land-grant mission reaches far beyond Urbana-Champaign.
Indeed, my grandfather loved this university. He and several of his brothers earned degrees in the 1930s from the then College of Agriculture. They would go on to pursue careers in production agriculture and beyond. I am a third generation Illini. Two of my uncles and my brother also earned degrees in ACES.
My parents are not Illinois alumni but I can attest that the University of Illinois has impacted our family for decades. The University of Illinois Extension office was a regular stop when my mom ran errands “in town” when I was growing up. She was either dropping off 4-H paperwork or picking up the latest information related to her HCE group. The regional FBFM representative shared best practices and asked about each of us kids while meeting with my dad to review the farm financial records throughout the year.
Even my siblings who are not University of Illinois degree holders walked this campus several times per year. State 4-H conferences, Illinois FFA convention in Assembly Hall (now State Farm Center); and meats, livestock, and dairy judging contests after a four-hour bus ride are all University of Illinois memories for my family. The list of ways the university has touched generations of my family goes on and on:
- We learned from teachers who were trained at the University of Illinois.
- We led livestock in to show rings with official judges who were both University of Illinois faculty or judged competitively at the collegiate level wearing orange and blue.
- The production and conservation practices on our centennial farm have certainly benefited from the translatable research conducted by the University of Illinois.
- My niece and nephews are now learning by doing at the Illini Summer Academies and ACES Family Academies.
- My kids cheer on Fighting Illini athletics and are quickly learning to sway to the Alma Mater.
- And the next generation of Illini graduates are earning their degrees right now.
This is just a glimpse of my family’s Illini story. What’s yours? Share your story on the Sesquicentennial Webpage.