In four years, she’d gone from a high school senior class of 100 and change to being honored as one of the top 100 seniors in a student body 400 times that size.
So Sheila Repeta knew where her father was coming from when he looked around the ballroom at the Illini Union just before the Class of 2003 Senior 100 breakfast and asked:
Do you know anyone here? I mean, how could you really know any other of these people with 40,000 students on campus?
“He had every reason to be skeptical how I could actually know most of the 100 seniors being honored out of the large campus. The reality was my graduating class at Burlington Central High School had just a hair more than 100 students in it.
“It was no doubt that coming from a small community (in unincorporated Kane County) to a large campus had been intimidating and not without its challenges. But that morning, the room felt small, and I did, in fact, know many of the 100 seniors being honored,” says the head of people at California tech startup TeamSnap, who earned both her bachelor’s and master’s from Illinois.
“My time at UIUC changed my thinking and the experiences stick with me today. The hours upon hours of resident advisor training in FAR still live with me and are the foundation for my career as the director of people for a tech startup.
“The days of intellectual sparring in the small classrooms in the English Building taught me how to listen, challenge and take comfort in disagreement and ambiguity.
“The bats and odd animals in the old grad student offices in Lincoln Hall reminded me to be prepared for anything — even the really wild things when you do work.
“Each day, the little pieces of UIUC are carried with me impacting how I show up in the world.”