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Jaclyn Vinson

Jaclyn Vinson

Executive director | Housing Authority of Danville | Class of 2011

A belated thanks to those family members who offered Jaclyn Vinson some not-so-subtle advice on where she ought to attend college.

“This smalltown girl was strongly encouraged to attend the University of Illinois — by my family,” says the 2011 natural resources/environmental sciences grad. “For their forceful encouragement, I am grateful, as it changed my life and helped me find my path.”

These days, Vinson serves as executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Danville. She’s taken the fast track to the big job, spending just under four years working on the planning side before beating out a field of 18 for the position three years ago.

She couldn't have done it without you, Alma.

“As I reflect on my years at the university,” she says, “the memories which surface are neither of the grueling preparation and studying, nor the feeling of depletion after the exam has been handed in.

“Instead, I am flooded with images” such as ...

— “The bell tower on the south Quad, being asked ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ by a stranger, and shamefully not comprehending the reference, yet responding with a ‘Oh, no, it chimes every hour like that.’

— “Tailgating during the 2007 football season. Rose Bowl, anyone?

— “Studying in the ACES library.

— “Killing time on the Quad.

“The university had a profound impact on me, and ultimately changed the course of my life. This change occurred my sophomore year, when I studied the influence of the built environment on humans, under Dr. Frances ‘Ming’ Kuo. Never before had I taken a step back to consider how our surroundings impact our development, and subsequently our reactions, health and quality of life.

“The principles I studied in Ming’s class have guided me through my professional career as I now work to plan improvements for low-income public housing developments, in an attempt to reduce aggression, increase access to green space and improve overall health.”