Students share campus experience with faculty member parents

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Jeannette Yan

Alexis, a junior majoring in communications, with her father Ted (Oct. 15)

By Sarah O'Beirne, Contributing writer

College: Four years where many students try to get as far away from their parents as possible. It’s a time to be independent and figure out who you are away from home. But for some students, they run into their parents walking down Wright Street.

Alexis Burgin’s father, Theodore, has been an electrician at the University since 1999. Now a student herself, Burgin unexpectedly runs into her father on campus a few times a month.

“It happened the other day. I was by my sorority house, and he was just walking by,” Burgin, junior in LAS, said. “It always catches me off guard. I always joke with my friends that this is the life of a townie.”

There are many students whose parents work for the University. Children of faculty members get 50 percent off the price of tuition at any public Illinois university, so choosing to attend college here is an easy financial decision.

“I actually didn’t want to go here originally, but it made sense financially. I wanted to branch out and see new places, but I told myself four more years in Champaign is okay. I’d survive,” Burgin said. “Living on campus is worlds different than in high school and living in Champaign. I’m so happy I decided to go here. It was overall the best decision I could have made.”

However, it can make it difficult to get the experience of living on your own, especially when your family lives only less than 10 minutes away.

“I told my parents I’m making it feel like I’m far away,” Burgin said. “I lived on campus all three years so far. Two years at Newman Hall and then in my sorority house. I don’t go home other than breaks, really. I think I’ve gone home one time per semester.”

However, no matter if they’re 10 minutes or five hours away, for parents, sending a child off to school is difficult.

Julie Griffin is the law department associate director. Her son, Alexandro, is her only child, which made it difficult to send him off to college.

“I think I went through the same emotions as parents even though he was physically on campus with me,” Julie said. “He lived in a dorm as opposed to him being at home.”

Even with her son on campus, Julie only sees him once every two weeks.

She said they went through the normal separation of him becoming a young adult. They did not see each other much until Thanksgiving break during her son’s freshman year.

For Alexandro Griffin, junior in AHS, the decision to stay in Champaign was more than just financially driven. Having family close by was something that stood out as a positive.

“I’m a homebody and very family oriented, so I wanted to stay close to my family for college,” Alexandro said. “The pro of having my mom near campus is if there’s ever a situation or an emergency, I can call her and she can be at my apartment in 15 minutes.”

Neither Burgin nor Alexandro plan on staying in Champaign post-graduation.

Alexandro said after college, he wants to move out and broaden his experience and horizons.

Despite having family in Champaign, Alexandro and Burgin have separated themselves from their home life. Instead of seeing their parents constantly, both leave their visits up to chance and have managed to turn the University into a separate experience, the same as any other college student.

In his early childhood memories, Alexandro formed a connection to the University.

“I’ve been coming (to the University) all my life. When I was in grade school and middle school, we’d come to the (Ikenberry Commons) and play basketball and football,” Alexandro said. “Near the end of high school, we’d try to get into some of the parties. My mom came to grad school here, and my aunt works here also. It’s a family experience.”

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