When a College Becomes a Family

When a College Becomes a Family

Feb 24
Holly Spangler, Ag Comm Alum and Special Projects Editor at Penton | Farm Progress

Once upon a time, I was a wayward freshman at the University of Illinois, enrolled in pre-med in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I have written before, how it took me not so long at all (approximately October of my freshman year) to decide that eight years of chemistry was simply not in the cards for me. How my roommate at 4-H House talked me through what I might be interested in, listened and explained there was a major called agricultural communications which fit exactly what I spoke of.

From there, it was a meeting in the basement of Mumford Hall with Bob Hays, who would become my great advisor, friend and mentor. That led to another meeting with the grandfather of ag communications, Jim Evans. That led to a speedy entry into the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

And that led to a passionate career among my people, the very ones I knew and understood and love, many of whom also graduated from the College of ACES. Basically, nirvana.

One of the things I most clearly remember about that time of transition was the feeling of finally being home.

As a freshman at 4-H House, I quickly figured out who the ag majors were: they were the ones going to College of ACES cook-outs together, to College of ACES welcome back parties, to ag organization meetings together, of which they were very likely officers for. I remember seeing them leave the house together for one gathering or another and feeling more than a little left out. They had a sense of camaraderie that I didn't find in my college. It seemed special.

And so it was when I learned that my newly-found interest in ag communications would put me squarely in the College of ACES, I was giddy. I was in! Bob Hays paved my way into an early entry to the College, waving the requirement to take ACES 100 (then AG100) but still requiring me to take AGCOM100 (Which he happened to teach...coincidence? I think not.) Before long, I was joining clubs and interviewing for organizations like the Student Advancement Committee, which became that place where so many good memories – and connections – were made.

Looking back, it's easy to see what I really joined: a family. The ACES family. Where you can walk down the hall and even the dean knows your name. Good people, good work, good times. And I've never regretted it.

For a lot of College of ACES students, the educational experience is amplified by the friendships and relationships they develop within their ACES family.