Melanie and Phillip Reinhardt think they probably met for the first time during a game of midnight euchre in a Lincoln Residence Hall lounge during the first week of school at the University of Illinois Springfield.
“A group of us played euchre every night at midnight in one of the lounges, and we were both in that group,” Melanie wrote in an email.
The two were part of the first class of 116 freshmen Capital Scholars at UIS in 2001. Prior to then the University served only juniors and seniors. Melanie, whose maiden name is Cain, remembers her time at UIS with fondness. “It was an incredible experience, and it was just so cool to be part of something so historic and significant as the first freshmen class at the university. One of the best parts about it was how close we all became during that first year,” she writes.
She and Phillip started dating during their sophomore year. They were in a couple of classes together, they became close with their classmates, and they bonded over their love of sports. In fact, the pair sites a game of basketball as one of their best memories as a couple at UIS. “When we first started dating, we went to the Rec Center to play some one-on-one basketball, and even though it got a little competitive, we had a blast. We played a lot of pick-up games with other people during our time at UIS, but we still both remember that first one-on-one game,” Melanie says.
Another one of their favorite memories is Springfest from their sophomore year. Their friends “put together a Springfest team, and we called ourselves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Cappies,” Melanie explained. She said they took part in all the activities of the week, competed in the various games and their team ended up “winning the whole thing.”
The couple graduated from UIS in 2005; Melanie earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in Business Administration and one in Communication, and a minor in Accounting. Phillip earned his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. They married in 2006 and have a daughter, Alexis, who was born in December 2009.
Melanie and Phillip say they keep in touch with several of their Capital Scholar classmates, and that a few of them were in the couple’s wedding party. “Facebook makes keeping in touch with everyone a lot easier, but we still manage to see these friends a fair amount. We also really enjoyed seeing everyone at the recent Capital Scholar reunion,” Phillip says.
Besides meeting some of their closest friends at UIS (and meeting each other), Melanie says UIS has had a positive effect on their lives in other ways, too. She said the opportunity to play intercollegiate sports was an incredible experience for her, and their degrees have helped them in their careers. Melanie works as a Communication Specialist in the Public Information and Marketing department at Southwestern Illinois College, and Phillip works as an Information Technology Specialist for DISA CONUS at Scott Air Force Base.
When asked what advice they’d give to new students at UIS, the couple says, “Get involved! Take advantage of all of the programs, events and opportunities the college offers. You will get a chance to meet some great people, experience new things and create memories that will last a lifetime.”