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illinois experience: Janet Lee

Spend a minute talking with Janet Lee about the University of Illinois, and her passion for the U of I comes through loud and clear.  

The senior History major from Barrington is one of several U of I students who contribute to Admissions’ blog for prospective students. She’s committed to experiencing all the U of I has to offer – and encouraging her fellow students to do the same. 

What’s it been like to serve as a U of I Admissions blogger?

It’s always fun to hear back from prospective students. As a senior, it’s kind of nice to reminisce and think about how the application process was for me four years ago. Obviously, I can’t tell them how to get in or what their status is, but I can provide a very realistic point of view for them about what it’s like to be a student. I’m sort of going through the application process with our potential students this year, because I’m applying for law school. So I’m definitely feeling the same stresses they are!

The 1867 Society has also been a big part of your Illinois Experience. What is that group all about? 

We put on all kinds of free events for students to create a culture of philanthropy – to build an awareness of things like the Altgeld Hall bell tower, the Diana fountain outside the Union, or renovations on certain buildings that wouldn’t be here without the giving of our alumni donors. One of our big events is I Love Illinois Week, a week dedicated to building pride in being an Illini and giving back to our University. Our point is that we don’t have to wait until we’re alumni to give back.  We’re here now. If we’re going to complain about something, we might as well do something proactive to make it better.  (I Love Illinois Week is Feb. 24-28, 2014)

How has your Illinois Experience changed you?

College pushes you into growing up!  I’ve learned that you can’t always control what’s happening around you, but you can control how you react to it. You go to college and it’s a brand-new experience; you don’t know anybody anymore. It's important to have a positive attitude about it, and you have to give new experiences  a chance. Your undergraduate years are limited, so you might as well make the most out of them!

Are there any particular people who’ve influenced you during your time at Illinois?

Between sophomore and junior year, I worked for the Division of General Studies as an academic advisor for incoming freshmen. Just to see how much fun they (DGS staff) were, and how much of a family they were, was really refreshing for me. There was a mutual respect; we were professional, but we still had fun. 

I connected a lot with Michelle Hyde at Student Affairs Advancement, too, when I worked there as an intern.  With her, it’s been really nice to have someone I can call on campus. Whether you have a personal problem or a professional problem, she’s there  not to give you answers, but to kind of guide you in the right direction and make sure everything’s OK. I've come across a lot of people who are like that; it’s almost been surprising to me how much the faculty and staff on campus care about their students. I didn't expect that!

What’s been the biggest surprise for you during your four years at Illinois?

I didn’t know how many international students were at this school. I think that’s a good thing; they bring different viewpoints on life that people in America don’t experience. So to be around a very culturally rich campus is really rewarding. A lot of people study abroad to experience that and remove themselves from their comfort zone. But you can experience that – remove yourself from your comfort zone and learn about others – right here at this school.