Seniors reflect on their Illini, Homecoming spirit

By Senait Gebregiorgis

Senior in ACES

What made you choose Illinois?

I did a research program with the College of ACES during my sophomore and junior year of high school, and I really found it to be pretty interesting.

Ever since then, applying to 61 schools and eventually knowing that I was going (to Illinois) out of it all was pretty cool.

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When you arrived on campus, what made this place feel like home?

The people, really; a lot of people really took me under their wings. Especially being a first-generation college student, too — everything was just really new, but the people were really welcoming.

I was involved with CORE, which was a mentoring program, and then the Office of Minority and Student Affairs really helped out, too. So that really helped me with my transition from high school to college.

Homecoming is coming up. What are some of the traditions or activities you partake in when the event comes around?

I’m involved with Student Alumni Ambassadors, and we put on Homecoming week — everything from the pep rally to the parades and spirit day.

We do a lot of things throughout that one week to really get current students excited for Homecoming – to have them pull out their orange and blue, and help them kind of remember why they’re here.

I’ve also been involved with the Comeback program too … Seeing alums come back and learning why they chose Illinois and having them spread that awareness to current students is something that I really enjoy and really look forward to every year.

What is one of your favorite memories that you made here on campus so far?

Being crowned Mr. University of Illinois, thanks to the Illini Union Board. My freshman and sophomore year, I applied and dropped out because I was kind of scared. It was just really cool to see everybody wave back to me when I was in the Corvette in the parade.

Just seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces really helped me take in that moment and just learn how to get back to the University and keep the pride that I have for the University of Illinois.

Fun fact?

I’m an only child, so that’s why I know a lot of people, and that’s why I give them hugs and embrace them. So I’m looking for a little brother or sister in college.

Name: Jordan Riggs

Senior in Business

What is one of your earliest memories before arriving to Illinois?

A few days after I accepted Illinois, I emailed Barry Houser, who is the director of Marching Illini.

I was like, “Hey, I’m really late and I know all the other auditions are over, but can I please still audition for the color guard?”

He emailed me back and he was like, “Oh yeah! If you come tomorrow, sure you can just audition, it’ll be fine.” So I did that, and I made it and I’ve been on the guard for four years now. It’s been fantastic.

What has helped you transition smoothly from high school to college at Illinois?

Definitely being in the band. Not only did I know 26 people before we moved in, but then we had band camp a week before everyone else moved in and I met tons of people there. I got to learn a few things about campus and see where things are.

I made all these friends from the band, and I would see them in my classes because we would all have the same matching sunglasses.

With Homecoming coming up, what are some of the things you always look forward to?

For band, obviously, we have the Homecoming game, and on Friday night we have the Homecoming pep rally … it’s a phenomenal time — we have a lot of fun, we goof off.

With me being in the color guard, we give our squads gifts, and it’s really nice because we only do that maybe four times a season. I’m actually making my (squad) orange and blue hair bows that they can wear for every day of the week.

When you leave campus, what are some of the things that you’ll miss most?

I’m going to miss knowing everybody. I know people from across campus, not just in the College of Business.

I realized why people say college is the best four years of your life. It’s the easiest place to be exactly who you want to be. You can wear anything … you can do and be anything. I completely reinvented my personality my sophomore year, and I’m exactly who I want to be right now.

When I go off to work in the real world, I won’t be able to wear orange t-shirts every day — I’ll probably have to wear suits. I’m going to miss being able to do exactly what I want all the time.

Fun Fact?

I got to paint my room last year — my landlord was like, “Sure, who cares.” I have a vaulted ceiling, so I painted the flat surfaces orange with glitter in the paint. I painted the vaulted parts dark blue, and it is phenomenal, I must say. I also have my friends write quotes on one of the vaulted parts — it’s awesome.”

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