Opinion | Create your own UI legacy


Photo courtesy of Wikkimedia Commons

Senior columnist Noah Nelson talks about the importance of students creating their own path and legacy at the University. Noah has been a part of The Daily Illini, Block I, Orange Krush and the Star Course Concert Committee.

By Noah Nelson, Senior Columnist

Legacy is a tough word to swallow and can be interpreted in so many different ways, which makes it difficult to define it singularly.

Walt Disney’s legacy was creating magic for future generations. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy was advancing the civil rights movement. Marie Curie’s legacy was paving the way for women in science.

At the University, our time is limited. Legacy isn’t something most of us think about, but we should. What do we want our legacy to be when we transfer our title from student to alumnus?

As a current senior graduating in May, I’ve been recollecting my past four years at the University in recent weeks. The word legacy continues to come to mind with the following thoughts of what I want mine to be when I graduate.

During my time on campus, I served as a senior columnist for The Daily Illini, been a member of Block I, Orange Krush and Star Course Concert Committee. I’ve made and kept many wonderful friends who are some of the best people in my life. I’ve grown as a writer and as a person.

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But what is my legacy here at the University? Is it that if you were to prick my finger with a needle, I bleed orange and blue? Is it my everyday wearing of cargo shorts no matter the weather? Or is it how I spent my time at the University?

I never conducted a chemistry experiment in a lab. I never joined a fraternity. I never researched the soil at the Morrow Plots. I never made the Dean’s List. But that’s okay, because I did plenty of other activities on campus.

I’ve befriended professors. I’ve scored poorly on some exams (but aced plenty of others). I’ve bar crawled a few too many times. I’ve cheered on our varsity teams to victory. I’ve spent countless hours in the Grainger Engineering Library working on homework. Even with all of that, this isn’t my legacy.

When thinking about it recently, I would want my legacy at the University to be this: I’m a small-town kid who was able to call Illinois home for four years. I embraced the institution wearing my orange and blue with pride, and each day, I make my mark at the University in some form or fashion.

I’ll forever be an Illini, and I’ll always be a part of its history. Wherever and however the University will be in a century, my legacy will be that I was one of the countless folks to play a special role in its story.

This leads me back to the initial question. Thinking back about your time at the University, what do you want your legacy here to be?

You’re an Illini through and through, but it’s up to you what kind of legacy you want to leave, long after the South Quad Bell Tower has chimed and the last word of “Alma Mater” is sung.


Noah is a senior in Media.

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