Whether she was in need of inspiration or just a comfy spot to study, the Illini Union was Louise Lee Ryoo’s go-to destination.
“My friend and I often met up to study and work together at the Courtyard Cafe. The sizes of tables and chairs were perfect for my height, and we enjoyed the coziness in the building,” says Ryoo, who followed up a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry/bioengineering in 2003 with a master’s in oncology/veterinary clinical medicine four years later.
“When I felt frustrated with tough questions or needed a break, I would stroll to the East Wing to look at the those Alumni Achievement Award recipients and imagine how they tackled challenges to achieve greatness.
“Looking at their dedicated facial expressions galvanized me to keep hammering on my problems. The energy still motivates me to not give up when I feel frustrated mitigating issues in the U.S. healthcare system.
“The South Lounge was another place in the building that I enjoyed visiting. I feel like I’m back in the Civil War era when I touched those old pieces of furniture, because they looked like furniture in Lincoln’s home in Springfield. I was fueled with determination when I thought about how Lincoln led this country through one of the most difficult times in the history.
“Those thoughts still push me to tackle many unknowns in my life and work, and I greatly appreciated the school for establishing such a wonderful home to complete my education and build whom I am today.”