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Kristen Allen

Kristen Allen

Counsel | State Farm | Class of 2002

"This one is easy," Kristen Allen says. "Second-floor reading room. Grainger Engineering Library."

During the future State Farm counsel's first year of law school, "you could find more law students there than at the Law Library, yet I’m pretty sure each of us claimed to love Grainger as a place to 'get away.' It was a beautiful place — wall-to-wall windows overlooking the engineering campus. I think just being there made us all feel smarter and more accomplished."

Another favorite spot of hers is one she's never as much as stepped foot in — the Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall. It's significant for more personal reasons.

"There is no building on campus that represents a shared history with my family of U of I grads like LAR. My mother, Kathryn Scott Cerven, graduated from the University of Illinois, as did her sister, Judith Scott Bilyeu, and her parents, John W. and Eleanor Scott.

"For a farming family from Christian County, a houseful of U of I degrees was a rarity. The Scotts were huge Illini supporters, and Eleanor was known to watch U of I men’s basketball games every chance she could — right up until her death at age 96.

"My mother has always been so proud of her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Illinois. Throughout my childhood, my parents took us to Champaign frequently. Whenever we drove down Lincoln Ave. past LAR, my mother would say, 'Kids, that’s where I used to live!' We would stop at Garcia’s, my mother’s favorite place, and she’d tell us stories of her time at Illinois, or her parents’ experiences from years earlier.

"My brother and sister and I all ended up at Illinois, perhaps by no surprise, to study engineering and education and law, respectively. Every day I drove from my off-campus apartment to the Law Building, I drove right past LAR. Every single time, I thought of my mother.

"Fast-forward to present day. Now, I have my own kids. I drive them to Champaign every chance I get. I show them the Quad, and the Law School, and even LAR, 'where Grandma used to live.'”