All-star alums offer a few words of advice for the UI Class of '22

All-star alums offer a few words of advice for the UI Class of '22

With the Class of 2022 about to descend upon Champaign-Urbana, we asked 10 UI alums who've gone on to big things for words of wisdom they'd offer the incoming freshman class.

MADHU GOEL SOUTHWORTH
Senior VP, AMC Entertainment and Sundance TV

"You may miss your family, but not everything about freshman life is a family affair.

"I remember bringing my dad and my little brother to the Adam Sandler show back in 1994 during freshman orientation week and it was the raunchiest, dirtiest and most foul-mouthed performance I think my conservative doctor father and 12-year-old brother had ever seen. I was so embarrassed.

"Leave your family at home — you are a freshman, live it up.

"It will be the best four years of your life. It was mine."

PAULA HOLDERMAN
Past president, Illinois Bar Association

"Don't pig out on all the carbs in the dorm.

"Eating macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and pizza was great, but trying to take off the freshman 15 pounds the next summer was really hard and kind of humiliating.

"It's also possible the newly discovered freedom of beer drinking may have contributed."

ED MCGREGOR
Director of content integration, ESPN

"If you're going to play pickup hoops at IMPE, bring reinforcements.

"I remember feeling pretty good about myself after winning a game one day with my buddies, only to look up — and up — to see that our next opponent included Kendall Gill, Kenny Battle and Jens Kujawa. If you don't know who Jens Kujawa was, I can say firsthand that he was a legit 7-footer.

"After that, it was all a blur."

KOUSHALYA SUBRAMANIAN
Director of insights, The Players' Tribune

"The next four years are really the best time to explore parts of who you are and help shape who you will become, so don't take this opportunity lightly.

"Take classes that pique your interest, even if it has nothing to do with your major, because you may think you know what you want to do the rest of your life, but that very well can and probably will change in the next decade.

"Put yourself out there and make connections, but build on those connections. Befriend people who accept you for who you are, but also encourage you to grow.

"Be forgiving of yourself if you make mistakes, and allow yourself room to make them, but know that the value in those mistakes comes from growth, so grow from them.

"Take chances, be safe, build memories and lean in to the opportunities that are presented to you. Get lost in the craziness of it all, but remember to find yourself along the way."

GRACE WOO
Tech whiz graduated from Illinois at 19, founded Pixels.IO

"Get to know the people in your dorms and pay attention to when the lobster nights are in the cafeteria. If I remember correctly, there were two of those evenings every year.

"Everyone around you will complain about the student food and how Illinois is in the middle of nowhere.

"These are actually the incredible strengths of Urbana-Champaign.

"Stay hungry and stay focused."

ROBYN NEAL
Associate operator, ESPN

"You're on your own for the first time. You don't have mom and dad here to stop you from signing up for that first credit card.

"But please, don't do it just yet. You still have time. You may think that a $500 limit is not that much, and that you can pay it off; but before you know it, that card will be maxed out and you won't have the means to pay it down.

"Not being able to pay it results in your credit score going down; you'll be in credit card debt before you even graduate college. It might look enticing, but wait it out. If you don't have the money to spend right now, then you should just wait.

"There are tons of things to do on campus for free. Take advantage of those."

MIKE GONZALEZ
Chief Illiniwek XXI, now president of South Carolina's Secession Golf Club

"Seek out and befriend smart and passionate people. Your drinking buddies might not make it in life — these people will."

CYNTHIA BARRETT
Actress plays Barb's mom on Netflix hit 'Stranger Things'

"Put your student activity fees and discounts to good use and try everything.

"Go to the gym. Attend a play. Do all the Student Union activities. Enjoy sporting events of all kinds.

"Wander through the campus museums, gardens and farms. Experience a dance concert. Listen to great live music. Explore stars at the observatory."

JULIE BENSMAN
Host/writer created BBC's 'RSVP Abroad'

"Just because the frozen yogurt in the cafeteria is all-you-can-eat, doesn't mean you should eat all you can."

DIANE PEARSE
CEO, Hickory Farms

"Don't be overwhelmed by how big the university is. Take advantage of all that it has to offer.

"Get involved. It will seem smaller and more of a community.

"But, don't underestimate how big the campus is. Give yourself plenty of time to get places."

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