Another year begins

Another year begins

Aug 21
Jennifer Shike, Director for Communications and Marketing

I sent my daughter off to her first day of second grade today. As I contemplated the opportunities that lie ahead for her, I thought back to the comments shared at Agronomy Day by Illini men’s basketball coach, John Groce.

Coach Groce was accompanied last week by his mother and stepfather, plus his fifth-grade teacher and Happy Farmer’s 4-H club leader, Janet Stephenson. Groce says he can easily name his top five teachers from kindergarten through college – and Mrs. Stephenson made the list for her compassion and unconditional care for every student.

Groce says his teacher’s compassion had a big impact in his life and has carried into his coaching style. He believes that the College of ACES and the Illinois basketball program share that same goal – to create impact.

Groce feels at home at Illinois – one of the world’s greatest universities – because its people care, he says. They want to help. They want to give back. They want to make a difference.

In ACES, we are motivated to help solve the world’s most critical challenges because our college is full of passionate faculty, staff, and students who really do care about the next generation and what they will leave behind.

Groce ended his keynote with a few thoughts that have stayed with me. He said, “I hope you will find something you are so passionate about that it lights your fire every day. Everything you do matters. You are exchanging a day of your life for this. What did you do? Who did you impact?”

To me, one of the best things we can achieve is to uncover our purpose in life. It’s exciting to think about all of the new faces who will walk in to ACES classrooms next week, starting the journey to discover their purpose.

Although second-grader Olivia has a few more years before she gets to that stage, I couldn’t help but smile as we discussed how fast the summer went and how it won’t be long before she’s in college.

“I do want to be an Illini someday,” Olivia said, “but for now, I just want to be a little kid.”

Thanks for the reminder, Olivia. You’re right – you’ve got some time.


Coach John Groce at Agronomy Day