2019 Convocation: AHS students talk about their time at Illinois

Vincent Lara-Cinisomo

The College of Applied Health Sciences held its 2019 graduation convocation ceremony on Sunday, May 12 at the State Farm Center. Hundreds of students from AHS' departments -- Community Health, Kinesiology, Speech and Hearing Science, Recreation, Sport and Tourism, and Interdisciplinary Health -- were feted and received their diplomas, the culmination of their hard work on the Urbana-Champaign campus.
Dean Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell presided over the proceedings, which featured graduating Community Health senior Darrien Rose as the student speaker.
The AHS communications staff took the opportunity to speak with graduates from all the represented programs to get their thoughts on life at Illinois.

Dylan Casey, Bachelor of Science, Kinesiology
Why Kinesiology? For me, it was kinesiology, I enjoy fitness and working out and it’s what I want to do with my career.
Why Illinois? I’m from Illinois, it seemed like there was a lot of opportunities in the classroom and stuff outside related to fitness.
Which professors had the most impact? I would say (KCH assistant) Professor (Adam) Konopka. I took two of his classes, and I worked in his research lab; He’s a young professor but he’s really doing important research in the field, and he was very helpful.
What’s been the best experience you’ve had at Illinois, in the classroom or outside it? I joined an Improv Group in my junior year, and that’s something I never thought I would do. It’s a great way to build social skills, and I met some really great people doing it.
What’s the next step? Next step is working, personal training. I want to work with athletes, but also the general population, so I’m excited for what’s next.
Adam Skoff, BS, Kinesiology
Why Illinois? I had family here already; The school, the education.
Why Kinesiology? I originally came to the School of Engineering from Texas, and I transferred in from Engineering, but I realized I had more passion for sports and coaching, and I had worked that summer previously before transferring into (Kinesiology) coaching staff for basketball, so when I changed majors it was just a seamless transition, which is kind of an area I was trying to go into anyway. That was the reason why I switched because I had a passion for sports, and knowing I had friends here in the (Kinesiology) department already.
Which professors had the most impact? I would say (associate professor) Marni Boppart, she was like the first real (Kinesiology) class that I took, and as a transfer student I had to make up for lost ground; She was really great, just giving me a full view of what I had in front of me and the program. (Associate department head) Dr. (Steven) Petruzzello was a professor I had for two semesters, and (assistant professor) Nick Burd also helped me as well.
What’s been the best experience you’ve had at Illinois, in the classroom or outside it? My best experience was the (registered student organizations) that are on campus, the clubs, the diversity that’s here, just getting to meet a lot of new people and things like that. In the classroom, the (Kinesiology) department having small classes that were like one-on-one, the availability of the teachers, and the (teaching assistants) are great. It really just makes you feel – not in a bad way – but like you’re in high school again. High prestige, high expectations, it’s just great.
What’s the next step? I’m looking into an MBA program. I’m considering here, as well as possibly going back to Texas. I’m looking at an MBA program to bring together what I’ve learned from the science background as well as looking into administrative roles, school administration, front office, things like that.
Dominique Pasek, BS, Speech and Hearing Science
Why Illinois, and SHS? I’ve always been stronger in language subjects. And first I thought I was going to be a Spanish teacher but I ended up deciding that wasn’t what I wanted to do. I took this quiz at a community college that brought me to speech and hearing science and then one of the only programs for SHS near me was U of I. I liked how close it was, I knew people here and I heard it was a really good program, so I decided to transfer here.
Which professors had the most impact? All of the people who gave me letters of recommendation, they went above and beyond trying to help me out, especially (Director of Clinical Education for the Department of Speech and Hearing Science) Clarion Mendes, she works in the Clinic, she went out of her way to try to find more universities for me to apply to so she really helped out a lot, and (SHS assistant professor) Marie Moore Channell, she was always really helpful to me during office hours and also (assistant professor) Ian Mertes, he’s in the audiology department, but he still helped me out with speech pathology, so I was really grateful for that.
What’s been the best experience you’ve had at Illinois, in the classroom or outside it? As cheesy as it sounds, I would say the people I met here just really made a difference. I was really scared coming in here not knowing anybody in my own program and it felt like a lot of people were here for all four years, so the friends I made in my transfer class really helped me get through the years taking classes together.
What’s the next step? So I was accepted to a grad program – I do not know if I’m going there yet. If not I will take a year off and find a similar job, but I still have a few days to figure that out.

Will Lieb, online Master’s, Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Why Illinois? I grew up in the area, a small town just west of here, and I had family that worked here for quite a while, so I had always had good experiences with it. I was working at Campus Rec when I decided to come here. So it was just what I was comfortable with.
Why RST? I was always interested in sports and recreation and I never really knew what I wanted to do. I finished my undergrad and came here and worked for a while, and decided that was going to be the thing.
Which professors had the most impact? I felt like, again, with the online program, you don’t really get to have that personal touch, but I feel like you get to have a really good understanding of how they work with not necessarily seeing them on a daily basis. So you kind of understand what they’re looking for after a certain amount of time, and you kind of have the same professors over and over again, so you get a really good feel for how things are going to go.
What’s been the best experience you’ve had at Illinois, in the classroom or outside it? I took the online program, so for me it was the flexibility; It was awesome. You had set deadlines but at the same time you had so much flexibility and time to do it, for me that was the best, because I was able to choose different areas that were of interest to me and applicable to what I was working with on a daily basis, so for me that really helped.
What’s the next step? So I actually started a job a couple of months ago. I’m in the northwest suburbs of Chicago working for the park district, running all the special events and outreach.
Priya Rajan, BS, Interdisciplinary Health Sciences
Why Illinois? I’m in an Illinois family, my sister went here so it’s kind of in the blood to go to Illinois. I’ve loved it ever since I came here. There’s so much opportunity here, whatever field you’re in you have so much to do here. Classes, diversity, so many things about it.
Why IHealth? So IHealth is a really unique concept. I think our healthcare is going toward a more holistic approach and that’s definitely what IHealth encompasses. We talk about mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, and how that affects the healing process, and not just the physical component. I think that’s really important as future healthcare people to look into.
Which professors had the most impact? (Undergraduate advisor) Beth Frasca, our advisor, she was my classroom instructor for three different classes in IHealth and she really helped us develop as people, in life. I really appreciate her a lot.
What’s been the best experience you’ve had at Illinois, in the classroom or outside it? I think something that made my college experience amazing was the fact that IHealth allowed us to intern other majors in AHS. I got to intern at the hospital and I got a lot of healthcare experience that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. It really opened my eyes to see what I didn’t like and really did like, and I found where I fit in in the future.
What’s the next step? I’m actually taking what I learned here and applying that at (the University of Illinois at Chicago) master’s in nursing.
Patricia Ebersold, BS, Community Health
Why Illinois? My sisters went here so it was more of a tradition, legacy, and I love that it’s a big university and it has such a good reputation.
Why Community Health? I wanted to do physical therapy but I wasn’t exactly sure that’s what I wanted to do so I did community health because I know I could still get all my prerequisites for physical therapy but then also learn about the health industry. And I love community health so I’m so glad that I chose this.
Were there professors that had profound impact? Not specifically professors, but I would say (academic advisor) Carol (Firkins), she was my advisor and so helpful with registering for classes and not even just classes but the college experience in general. She’s been so helpful.
What’s been the best experience you’ve had at Illinois, in the classroom or outside it? So I’m an Evans scholar, that’s a four-year tuition and housing scholarship for golf caddies, so I’ve lived in that house for four years. So just being able to meet different people with diverse backgrounds and being able to help people and get help from other people, has been great.
What’s the next step? So I did get into grad school for physical therapy at Northwestern.