Remarks to Fellow Graduates – Jinger Sanders

May 11, 2013

University of Illinois Springfield is a unique place, a place like no other. The second you walk onto campus you feel the genuine family like atmosphere. The campus is full of opportunity, passion, and excitement. Most importantly, the UIS campus is filled with faculty, administration, and peers that want to see you succeed. I came in as an eager 17 year old ready to embark on my college journey. It seems just like yesterday I was observing the madness of move-in day where upper classmen gingerly pushed carts of dorm room necessities to our rooms and distressed parents prepared to leave their child; it was all becoming real that this was my new home for the next 4 years. Then, a tornado came and I must say class of 2013 had the most exciting move-in day but, like that tornado, the class of 2013 took UIS by storm. We all started out trying to find our place, our purpose, our niche in the UIS community.

One of my favorite songs lyrically is Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and, as I entered UIS, I wanted to be great and I wanted to be change, but who was I? A 17 year old who wanted to take on the challenges of the world. Well, as the lyrics in the song state, I started with the person in the mirror. We want to not only reflect on the outside but also within our soul. After four years of reflection and application, UIS has helped shaped me into the woman I stand to be today.

Attending UIS has been one of my greatest opportunities. UIS allowed me to enhance my confidence, leadership, and character. This institution has been more than a stepping stone into the next chapter of my life but a place for personal and academic growth. I enjoyed the college experience of attending athletic events, being a Resident Assistant for Necessary Steps, and being a part of the Capital Scholars Honors Program. At UIS, we come together from different regions, cultures, and generations to share one classroom. In the case of UIS, that can be an online classroom, too. I was surrounded by peers with outstanding work ethic and drive. I love my institution. My most intricate role I served in while attending UIS was being the student rep to the UIAA Board of Directors Alumni Association. For 3 years, I was able to bridge the gap between alumni and current students, establish the service program Uhelp, Ihelp, Springfield, and positively influence my peers.

Most importantly, I was able to see first-hand the love and pride alumni have for this institution. I was exposed to the outstanding individuals who once took the same steps I did and excelled. Not only do we belong to a world-class institution, we have alumni who value it. I am inspired when I see UIS alumni who continue to pour into this university. They made it possible for some of us to be where we are today. The giving back of alumni provides infinite opportunities for students whether financially or exposure to a future career. What we as a class need to take away is that giving back starts today. But don’t get excited; I’m not talking about your check book—well, at least not yet! Because Sallie Mae has already called me! I’m talking about something more precious than money and that’s time. Time is valuable because you cannot get it back. Invest time into our university just like this university invested in us. As we prepare to be phenomenal assets to society in various fields and careers, please remember the opportunities and exceptional education you attained at UIS. I ask that you reflect on the commitment that alumni and community members have for you and this institution and ponder how they have helped shape you into the individual you are today. I want the class of 2013 to hold this near and dear to our hearts and to stay connected to the community who nurtured us. Recall the significance of the history of our institution and our value to the future Prairie Stars. We must continue to build on this legacy to produce brilliant futures of those to come. I take pride in going forth as an alumni and knowing that I am a life-long member of the UIS family. I look forward to the positive progression the university will make in years to come. During our time here, we celebrated 40 years of excellence, but I predict 40 more years of brilliance because we have the resources, student passion, and leadership to take on anything. And, most importantly, UIS is Leadership lived and that does not stop today.

Congrats and God Bless Class of 2013!

by Jinger Sanders