The Daily Illini

Third-generation University student shares experiences

By Trisha Bhagat, Contributing Writer

Imagine being back in the second grade at the school book fair, but instead of choosing what you wanted from the catalog, the only thing on your mind is how badly you want to buy a University of Illinois poster. This is what Rebecca Uhrich, junior in Business, found herself doing at seven years old.

Beginning at a young age, Rebecca always had this idea in the back of her mind: the University is a family thing. And it is.

Rebecca is a third-generation University student. Her father and his parents, her other grandmother, her older brother, many aunts, uncles and cousins all went to or currently attend the University. She never thought she’d end up in the same place as so many of her family members have, but after arriving on campus, she knew she made the right decision.

Attending the same high school and university as a parent can develop a potential obligation to follow the same path. However, this was not the case for Rebecca.

Growing up in the Hoffman Estates and Palatine area, she was very involved in high school and as the youngest in her family, she said she always wanted to do her own thing and find her own path. Her two older sisters attended Purdue, her Mother’s alma mater, and Saint Louis University.

Rebecca said that despite these other schools being brought to her attention, the University was always an option.

She never thought she would attend University, unlike her brother, who always knew he wanted to come here. It wasn’t until her senior year of high school where she was completely sold on the school and realized it would be the best fit.

“Knowing exactly where my dad lived and his experience here is really fun,” Joe Uhrich, Rebecca’s brother and senior in Engineering, said. “It was a dream to be able to go to U of I … knowing my dad and grandpa went here. So it is really cool being to share that experience.”

Being a third-generation student has both its perks and flaws, and can sometimes create pressure to have the same college experiences as family members who attended the University.

For Rebecca’s father, there was a small bit of obligation to attend the University like all his siblings, and follow in the footsteps of his father. Rebecca’s grandfather actually didn’t attend the University until after he fought in the Korean War, so her father always thought coming to the same school would be the best decision.

“University of Illinois is where I thought I would always go. My parents went and my sisters went there. I expected to go there, and my children too. It was home, the place I was supposed to be,” James Uhrich, Rebecca’s father, said. 

Rebecca said that her father never gave her a sense of obligation to attend Illinois, and it ultimately came down to her choice.

“Overall, you make college your own,” Rebecca said. “I don’t feel a lot of pressure with my family or anything like that. Even though my brother did college differently than I did, so did my dad and my grandfather; it works out exactly how it should and we are all going to have different experiences”

Rebecca is hoping to major in supply chain management. She is a part of Business Council and a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority and has found many other ways to stay involved on campus.

Her father, however, followed a completely different path. He was in ACES and did not join a fraternity. Her grandfather was also in Business but studied accounting, and her grandmother was a nurse and member of Chi Omega sorority.

Although this family took different paths upon arriving at the University, Rebecca’s family still has its traditions. Rebecca sometimes gets together with her father’s friends and their children, and her family often comes to the University to tailgate before watching a game.

When her family comes to visit, Rebecca said she enjoys it. She said they all have a sense of pride and school spirit, and she is really proud of that.

“University of Illinois was the school everyone in my high school wanted to go to in Illinois,” James said. “The experiences I am looking forward to are going back to Homecoming, going to see the football game and hopefully in the future, a big 10 hockey team will be here.”

Rebecca loves that her brother is able to share some of his college experience with her, but she doesn’t feel dependent on him. She also enjoys being able to visit friends at the Chi Omega sorority house and see her grandmother’s picture on the wall.

“We’ll be going down Green Street and my dad will be pointing out all the new things, the changes in buildings, the similarities and the differences,” Rebecca said.

Another change that has made a comeback is Illini Inn. This was James’s go-to place as he was a part of their “Mug Club.” While KAM’s is a typical UI favorite for Rebecca, Illini Inn was her father’s favorite place to be. When she mentioned its beloved return, her father was beyond excited and couldn’t wait to revisit the new place. After seeing this reaction and realizing she can have a shared experience with her father, she really wanted to take part in the “Mug Club” and be a part of that tradition.

“I just joined the Mug Club, and my dad will be back for (Homecoming) seeing the new Illini Inn. It is cool having these same experiences,” Joe said. 

Rebecca said she is extremely grateful she has been able to experience college in this way.

“I’ve lived in small towns and don’t have a lot of family outside America, but I love the fact that U of I is part of my culture and the history of my family,” Rebecca said. 

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