My freshman year at Illinois will always be a period in my life that I’ll remember fondly. Having participated in the RISE program over the summer (a new student program to help prepare incoming students for their time at Illinois), I was ready to begin my journey at Illinois and get as much out of the experience as I could. While I can think of several fun and happy memories from my freshman year, there are a few, in particular, that stand out.
Winning My Dorm’s Door Decoration Contest
My freshman year, I lived in Busey Hall, and my RA held a door decorating contest for Valentine’s Day. My roommate and I often referred to ourselves as the “Bert and Ernie” duo (and still do), so we decided to go all out with decorating our door in Bert and Ernie memes and pictures. After over an hour of decorating, we stood back and admired our work. The joy and laughter we got from our door decorating was plenty of an award for us, but to our surprise, we won the prize for the funniest door! Turns out everyone else got a lot of chuckles from our inside joke too!
Going To A Pauly D Concert at Canopy Club
I am a big fan of the TV show Jersey Shore (don’t judge me!), and around my birthday, Pauly D came to perform at the Canopy Club on campus. My friend gave me tickets as a birthday present and I had such a great time. It was so cool to be able to attend a concert right on campus and discover that concerts were always taking place at various locations all year long! This would be one of several concerts that I attended while at Illinois, all right here on campus!
Decorating My Dorm Room With My Roommate
One of the things that my roommate and I looked forward to the most was decorating our dorm room. We even went dorm shopping together the summer before our freshman year to pick out decorations and bedding! Both of us are really into decorating and organizing spaces, so we decided to pick out new decorations for our dorm room per holiday and season. About once a month, we would swap out decorations for our door, walls, and windows to match the current season and/or upcoming holiday. It was always super fun to go searching for new decorations and trying to outdo ourselves every month. We even carried this habit over to our apartment!
Presenting at The Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference at Purdue University
During my freshman year, I joined the History Club/Phi Alpha Theta (PAT – History Honors Society) and discovered that several chapters across many campuses host regional conferences where students can submit their research papers for a chance to be selected to present their work at the conference. I decided to submit my final paper for my Rhetoric 105 course and got accepted! I had never presented anything at a conference before, so the opportunity was both exciting and a bit daunting at first–but after talking to my mom about how to present information in a concise and engaging way (my mom is a preschool teacher so I figured who better to ask than her), I decided to just be myself. I received so much positive feedback from my commentator and the audience! Presenting at the PAT conference was definitely a highlight of my freshman year. As someone who aspires to become an educator, having this opportunity so early on in my undergraduate journey was not only an honor but also a reaffirmation that education is a field that I’m deeply interested in and passionate about.