Raised in a tiny farm town in Kankakee County, Sheri Masters had never been in a building quite as breathtaking as the Illini Union.
“This was the place that connected me to the past and history I was entering and to the bright, shiny future I was so ready for," she says.
“I remember Quad Day, my first exposure to this amazing larger world outside of my small town. All the groups lined up made me realize for the first time that people were more varied and nuanced than I ever knew.
"I worked in food service at the Union, but it was so much more to me than a place of employment. I made friends there and felt that I had my own place in the university, a place where I could contribute to the way others experienced the university.
“I also remember walking down the hallway toward the restaurant and looking at the portraits of distinguished Illini and thinking that I was connecting to something so much bigger than myself. Coming from a little farm town in Kankakee County, I found that exciting and inspiring.
“On a more practical and slightly sillier level, dorm living had made me desperately miss simple things like sitting in a living room, so the Union’s comfy lounges let me get a taste of that. I would settle in a comfy chair between classes and study, reveling in the simple pleasure of sharing the space with others and escaping the blandness of a dorm room.
"It was nice to have a homey place to enjoy.”