Home these days is sunny southern California but that doesn’t keep Sandra Hughes Kazarian from taking frequent trips down memory lane about her time 2,000 miles away.
“My brother, Randy Hughes, and my nieces and their families all live in the Champaign area. I visit them often and I never miss a chance to hit the campus and my memory spots,” says the 1985 journalism grad and national network news correspondent, whose post-UI assignments included covering the O.J. Simpson murder trial from gavel to gavel for CBS.
“Nothing says home more to me than pulling into the circle drive in front of Alpha Chi Omega on Lincoln. I lived two years at AXO, and this house became my home and a foundation for building lifelong friends.
“On campus, I just can't walk by Gregory Hall. I am drawn inside those heavy doors and into the hallways I walked decades ago. We edited our TV news stories on old quarter-inch tape machines in the basement and I found the big book of TV stations in the small library on the first floor and used it to find my first job, where I made $9,600 a year.
“Greg Hall was usually either too hot or too cold. For me, walking around Greg Hall is like walking the halls of your old high school; it makes me melancholy, yearning for a time and place that now lives only in my mind.
“I could talk about our beautiful Quad or the Student Union but the last place on my memory hit list doesn't even exist anymore. Just off campus and across from the Theta house is where it used to stand. Kam’s was a college bar like no other.
“I worked there for two years. Sometimes, the floor was too sticky to walk on and the bathrooms looked and smelled like a toxic waste dump, but oh, the memories.
“Slinging 25-cent beers at happy hour. Seeing friends come and go — maybe a little too tipsy but luckily, we didn't drive and besides a nice long walk back to Urbana was just what they needed.
“Here's a toast to memories of UI, my home for four years and in my heart forever.”