If the Champaign-Urbana MTD’s ever in the market for a new ad campaign, we suggest tracking down Adria Olmi.
A big believer in that form of public transportation dating back to her Bay Area days as an undergrad (UC-Davis) and law school student (UC-Hastings), it was among the reasons she settled on C-U in the late ’90s as a place to study library science.
It was on a bus that “I met a fellow graduate student, who became a life-long friend. Her name is Paula Carns,” Olmi says from Fort Lee, Va., where she’s the supervisory librarian at the Army Logistics University Library.
“We started talking seriously on a bus; I can't recall where we were going in Champaign — perhaps home from a long day in the library.
“Not just mild chit-chat, but life changing chit-chat, like what do you want to be when you grow up? Well, I wanted to be a librarian. It was dark outside and rather gloomy — perfect setting for a novel or life-changing discussion.
“She looked incredibly artsy and sophisticated, was super smart, and looked like she wanted to talk. I forced myself from introversion to talk our programs of study.
“I started talking about library science and was quite enchanted with library and information science, after having spent three long, tedious years studying law in California. We had enough time on the bus ride to exchange heart-felt views of careers and futures.
“Shortly thereafter, I introduced her to the person who would become her husband, Jeff Carns. She finished her Ph.D. and entered the iSchool graduate program. This was almost 20 years ago.
“She's been a professor at the University of Illinois for years now, I lost track how many; Jeff Carns recently retired from Illinois.
“You never know who you might meet on a bus in Champaign — what discussions you may have; that person may become a life-long friend and you may wind up introducing her to that other person, who provides a different kind of meaning to her life.
"For some reason, that bus ride has always stood out in my mind — in some ways a rather archaic form of transportation, but a much-loved one in Illinois, and very valuable to the community.
“One of the reasons I matriculated at Illinois, was that the area had more advanced bus transportation: I had liked that feature of life in Davis and San Francisco.
“There must be many conversations on buses in Illinois that provide a view of alternative route in life, a discovery of someone who will become a life long friend, someone that can always be called, in good times or bad, a person that one learns to cherish.”