A digital special section of | Subscribe

Immanuel Chu

Immanuel Chu

Georgia pastor, public speaker | Prized Ron Zook football recruit

To the speech comm professor who could have flunked him — but had the heart not to — a belated thanks from Immanuel Chu.

Chu was new to campus — recruited out of suburban Georgia by Ron Zook’s Illini football staff — when he experienced his first Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day.

Against his professor’s wishes.

“He reiterated to the class not to come to class drunk on Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day or we’d fail the class. Being the dumb, entitled football player who didn’t care about school  — I will pay the price for rest of my life — I woke up at 7 a.m. to drink with my Scott Hall mates before class, when I had to give a speech, which was the final project,” says Chu, who eventually transferred to Middle Tennessee State.

“I think I slurred the entire time and couldn’t stop giggling because everyone in there looked drunk. My final grade dropped from A to D-minus. No F, though.

“That guy — whatever his name is — truly professed to me about grace and compassion through his action, and exemplifies the remarkable culture of camaderie and bond that is the University of Illinois.

“Thanks, Prof. Public speaking is my profession and I still use what I learned in that class.”