It didn’t take long at all for the Illini Union to have that home-away-from-home feel for Britney Robbins.
“Having come to U of I not knowing a soul, it was where I formed a lot of the friendships I still hold dear today," says the 2009 English/Creative Writing grad and founder/CEO of Gray Matter Experience, a Chicago nonprofit aimed at helping Black students learn about and practice entrepreneurship.
"I remember eating in the Union for lunch the day of freshman orientation. I walked away from the table and came back to my father talking some poor soul to death. Little did I know then, my father’s gift for gab would land me one of my oldest friends to date.
"Throughout my time at U of I, I remember using the Union to study, meet up with friends, eat Chick-fil-A and nap between classes. Even now, when I visit the university, Illini Union is always one of my first stops.
"The gorgeous decor and buzzing energy got me through my days at the U of I.”
In October 2020, Robbins checked in at No. 2 — behind only Chance the Rapper — on CS Magazine's list of the 26 most infuential Chicagoans.