It’s been a full decade since he made the trek from his White Street apartment to Wohlers Hall but Ankit Chandra still remembers the route in vivid detail.
Emotional experiences and all.
“The walk captured practically all that I felt during my U of I days,” says Foot Locker’s New York-based analytics director, who earned his 2008 master’s in technology management.
“The walk began from Bardeen quad, where if you remember, there is a semi-circular deck outside the engineering hall, just above the Boneyard Creek. I have spent many evenings alone and with my girlfriend (and now wife) trying to find solutions for my struggles — the 2008 financial crisis and finding a job amidst that.
“Then came the Senior Memorial Chime. I remember that on August 15th, the Indian independence day, the chime played the Indian national anthem. That day, I felt as if the entire U.S. was welcoming me with its arms wide open, kinda like the Alma Mater statue.
“As I crossed through the main Quad, I usually had to hurry to get to class. And that longish, straight walk helped me clear my mind and prepare for the day ahead.
“Then came the main library, where in the main corridor, on the right side, were plaques listing top students from more than a hundred years ago. Seeing those names made me feel like I belonged to a rich and long legacy — one that I can call my own, one that I should respect and carry forward.
“Inspired, as I walked out of the main library and towards the business quad, I was ready for the day and what life was going to throw at me.
“Only this time, I had the U of I cheering by my side.”