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Shannon Beranek

Shannon Beranek

Transportation engineer | City of Urbana | Class of 2001

Whenever Shannon Beranek felt like getting away from it all and studying in peace and quiet, her first stop was Altgeld Hall.

First, the back story, as told by the city of Urbana’s transportation engineer, who earned her bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. from the Grainger College of Engineering:

“Back when I came to college, there were computer labs students could use, like in the basement of FAR or the basement of Altgeld. There were many others, but the common theme was that people didn’t have personal computers typically in their rooms and cell phones weren’t even a thing.

“I found the Altgeld lab by accident and it turned out to be a wonderful place as there were very few people who ever used it. You could pretty much always have a free computer and time to do all your homework. For a while, you could even print things out for free, but they caught onto that and removed the printer after a while.

“I also made some cross-major friends down there as we all discovered this crazy new game called Starcraft. We could even battle each other and there was this one guy who could just beat the pants off of all of us without even trying. 

“It was a great time and I lament the loss of that space to what looks like just storage now. No one really needs a computer lab now that we all have laptops, tablets, phones, etc.”

Another favorite blast from the past: catching a ride on the 21 Quad bus, less sleek than the models that transport students these days.

"This was the old-style articulated bus that sounded like it was going to bust apart every time it turned," she says.

“One of the drivers was Bill #9 and he was a character. That bus would not stop for anyone on it unless you pulled the stop rope. If you didn’t, Bill would taunt you.

“I fell asleep one time on the bus and I don’t know how many circuits I made it through but Bill finally was like ‘Are you going to get off this thing or what?’ The new articulated buses just don’t have the same ‘charm.’”

Her advice for the newly arrived UI Class of 2023?

“Don’t be afraid to try new things. Go see what is in this building that you’ve never had a class in, eat at that new restaurant that pops up, take that Viking Sagas class for your humanities elective, and take interest in your group mates in classes lives as you may make some lifelong friends.

“I’m even further dating myself on this one: As a wise Ferris Bueller once said, ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’”