If you stuffed every resident of Trevor Riggen’s Edgar County hometown into Foellinger Auditorium, you’d still end up with 500 or so empty seats.
So imagine his awe the first time he walked into his first class at Illinois and took a look around.
“Like thousands other freshmen, one of my first classes of my college career was Econ 101. For me, it was also the first class on the first day — at 8 a.m.," he says.
“Having grown up in a small, rural farmtown — Chrisman, Illinois — with just over 1,000 residents, the shock of walking into my first class with over 1,500 other students at Foellinger Auditorium was startling.
“As I sat near the back in the balcony, I distinctly remember the impression that Professor Fred Gottheil made as he managed to engage this enormous class in a relatable, conversational and absorbable way.
“That 8 a.m. class five days a week could have been a disappointing beginning to college, but it ended up becoming one of my fondest classroom memories.”
Another: Middle Eastern Politics with Professor Marvin Weinbaum.
“I began my college career as an aspiring engineering student; however, theoretical and applied mechanics made the decision incredibly easy for me to look for an alternative career,” says the American Red Cross’ senior vice president for disaster cycle services.
“I quickly shifted over to political science and one of my first classes was Middle Eastern Politics with Professor Weinbaum. Although I had no prior experience or interest in the Middle East, that class would actually define the next several years of my education and career.
“Largely due to the way Professor Weinbaum was able to make Middle Eastern history come alive and connect the reality of current politics to centuries of change, I quickly picked up additional courses — including studying Arabic for the next year, studying abroad in Turkey at a Middle Eastern politics seminar and serving as a Peace Corps volunteer for more than two years in Morocco.”