New students look to future, alumni reflect on past


Mark Capapas

Freshmen and orientation leaders gather outside of Foellinger Auditorium on Aug. 22, 2019. Current University students discuss what they hope to achieve by graduation while alumni reminisce on what they most enjoyed during their time on campus.

By Ayse Pirge, Staff Writer

Between the late nights studying and the late nights not studying, college can be an exciting time and one many students want to make memorable. Most students have goals they want to achieve, internships they want to score and careers they want to begin. The University provides opportunities for these goals to materialize.

Current students share what they hope to achieve by graduation whilst alumni share how they made the most out of their time here.

Aynur Namik, freshman in LAS, is looking forward to learning Korean, in addition to majoring in biology on a pre-PT track. Namik said she would really like to learn a new language. She has been studying the language since the beginning of high school and did a study abroad in South Korea during her junior year. Currently, she is taking a Korean class.

Namik also wants to join RSOs and is considering the ultimate frisbee team. “Maybe (I’ll join) some language classes or professional classes like the pre-PT club,” she said.

Namik is interested in dabbling in research, given the University’s reputation.

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“It would be really nice to have research experience, especially since I’m going (to) a research university,” she said. “I’ll probably have it geared more toward like human health or working with people hands on, so maybe something that has to do with that and the human body.”

Bruce Escalante, freshman in LAS, is looking forward to joining RSOs, and he already has an idea of which to join. Bruce is interested in the campus culture houses as well and is interested in trying new restaurants.

“(I want to) eat as much new food as I can and just try to find really good restaurants,” he said.

He will study East Asian Languages and Cultures, specifically Chinese. He wants to go the Illini Union often, and see the Japan House as well.

Alumna Nada Naffakh offers freshmen her advice about how to best approach the college experience, academically and socially. Naffakh, who graduated in the spring from the College of Engineering, currently works as a traffic engineer in Peoria, Illinois. Naffakh encourages new students to join clubs to help garner pre-professional experience, citing her time with the Society of Women Engineers as a positive experience.

“I got a lot of really interesting opportunities out of that,” Naffakh said. “When I was in the Society of Women Engineers, I was part of the group called Team Tech, and (with) Team Tech you partner with a company that gives you a problem that they have, and you develop a way to solve it.”

In her first two years, they competed in the Team Tech competition at the Society of Women Engineers National Conference, placing first and third place respectively.

Naffakh said news students should try to land summer internships, an experience she wish she would have had as a student.

“I feel like internships definitely help you pick out what your interests are,” she said. “Studies and coursework kind of gives you the basics, but being able to really get in there and see what the job market is like, see what different job opportunities are available to you, firsthand, is really helpful, and again it’s just a big resume builder.”

Naffakh said it’s not all about the studies, however. New students should find spots to sit, places they love — finding small nooks and crannies on campus can make campus feel smaller and make you feel more at home. The places we spend our time at and the people we spend our time with are what we will remember after graduation, she said.

“I really like the Engineering Quad in the fall for no reason other than the fact that the trees there are so beautiful,” Naffakh said. “I can’t say that at the time I liked it, but now looking back, I spent a lot of my time in Grainger library, so I guess we have this kind of a special bond, Grainger and (me).”

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Correction: A previous version of this article states Namik is in a pre-PA track. Namik is in a pre-PT track. The Daily Illini regrets this error.