When you come to campus via the Vermilion County village of Westville (pop. 2,990), C-U can be a tad on the daunting side.
“Urbana-Champaign was, to me, the big city,” says 1989 history grad Chris Gerrib. “It was an eye-opening experience. Classes were eye-opening, too.
“I remember sitting in a freshman math class where the professor said the next four weeks will be a review and promptly launched into stuff I’d never seem before. Needless to say, I didn’t do so well in that class.
“A set of classes I did do well in were the military history classes taught by Professor John Lynn. He had an engaging style and a passion for his subject, which pulled me along. He was key in my decision to change majors to history.
“I had lived a somewhat sheltered life in Westville, so another eye-opener was Murphy’s Pub. That’s where I developed my taste in beer, drinking Guinness Stout in draft.
“I wasn’t very outgoing, so back home I was the kid who spent his summer vacation in the local library. Getting access to the UIUC Library was like heaven. I also loved the Illini Union bookstore with its — for me, at least — quirky selection of books and convenience.
“In short, my term at UIUC converted me from a boy to a man.”