Sam Banayan’s spot is the Foreign Languages Building — specifically, the dimly lit, windowless interior room with the rectangular table, where the future legal director of Redbox had his first of many classes with his favorite professor.
“Of the thousands of classes that I could have started my U of I career with, Professor Gary Porton’s was my lucky strike,” says Banayan (BS ’99). “Professor Porton, a world-renowned expert in his field, sat at one end of the table, and I, a freshly minted 18-year-old with no self-awareness, at the other.
“Having studied some of the coursework previously, I was eager to make it known. We debated each other on the interpretations of ancient texts from the first class to the last class of the semester, as if we were the only people in the room. I was hooked, and went on to take every course Professor Porton taught over the next four years.
“I still have his books on my bookshelves today.”