Illinois happened for a reason

A very recent alumna’s reflection on the opportunities of four years at Illinois

When I was applying for colleges a little over four years ago, I was fortunate enough to already know what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to go to help make that a reality: the University of Kansas.

Contrary to popular belief—or rather what my favorite teacher, Mr. Clark, thought—I didn’t simply want to go to Kansas for college just because it’s Kirk Hinrich’s alma mater. That just happened to be a wonderful perk. As an aspiring sports writer, KU’s prestigious journalism program was attractive. As a basketball fanatic, I wanted to go to a basketball school, and KU is pretty much the definition of that considering the men’s basketball team’s great history and success.

Kansas seemed like the perfect place for me to be, and I was convinced it was despite never having even gone on a visit there. When I told my friends and classmates my reasoning behind it, they understood and saw why I’d fit there.

So I applied to the school as a journalism major, received my acceptance, and was even offered a scholarship. I’d hear from with representatives from the school who would mention also loving Kirk Hinrich (Thanks to social media it was no secret Kirk was my favorite). I was happy about the prospect of my future and was hopeful that I’d get my perfect college experience. Read more “Illinois happened for a reason”

One Book, One Campus, One Group of People Brought Together By One Person

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Meeting Jamie Tworkowski with the TWLOHA UIUC UChapter

On June 30 at 1:02 p.m., my twin sister, Amanda, received a text from our best friend Carly:

“If you’re free right now, please call me! I have (some) exciting news!”

We text, tweet, and Snapchat one another all the time, but we never call one another, making it a bit of an odd request. So Amanda and I figured it had to be really exciting news for Carly to request a phone call because just reading the news through a text would not live up to its importance.

Two minutes later, we called Carly from Amanda’s phone. And sure enough, Carly had exciting news.

“Jamie’s coming to campus!”

No way.

Carly called to let us know that Jamie Tworkowski, founder of the non-profit organization To Write Love on Her Arms and New York Times bestselling author, would be coming to our school, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, this school year. His book If You Feel Too Much was selected for the One Book One Campus event, so he would be coming to U of I to do a lecture and book signing. The expanded edition of If You Feel Too Much would also be out by the time he came, too.

We could not be more thrilled, because we all love Jamie.
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A Decade of TWLOHA

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Wednesday, March 30 marks the 10th anniversary of To Write Love on Her Arms. While I haven’t been completely invested in TWLOHA since its start, I have known about the organization for most of its 10 years of existence. In recent years, I’ve become very, very supportive of TWLOHA and its message, contributing to the excitement I felt when I first heard about #TWLOHA10.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vB5MnYtD-K8]

My wallet, however, wasn’t as excited to learn about the #TWLOHA10 collection. I restrained myself from buying more than one item from the collection, though, and settled for the “City Shirt” because I don’t have a shirt like it already.

When I received my shirt in the mail, I found four #TWLOHA10 response cards accompanying my shirt. (Print out the cards, and fill them out!) The cards were meant to be filled out to helped celebrate TWLOHA’s 10th birthday. As I thought about what to include on the card, I realized I wanted to write several sentences, an entire paragraph, maybe even a few. I didn’t want to do that, and I didn’t want to post four different photos of each card on Instagram with a short story. I didn’t want to just have black words on the card either.

I also wanted to be creative, so that’s what I did. Or at least, that’s what I tried to do. Read more “A Decade of TWLOHA”

Favorite Books of 2015

Books 2015

For someone who wants to be a writer, I honestly don’t read too many books. Most of the books I read throughout the year are books assigned for school, and I don’t get too much time to read books for pleasure other than summertime. And, when I do read for pleasure, it typically takes me a very long time to complete a book because I tend to read slow. Despite all of that, I read a decent amount of books in 2015—both for school and for pleasure. Read more “Favorite Books of 2015”

World Suicide Prevention Day 2015: “You will see me tomorrow”

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This post was partially inspired by Anis Mojgani’s “You’ll see me tomorrow” post.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and it coincides with National Suicide Prevention Week. Both events have become more meaningful to me than ever before, but it’s not because it’s something I’ve personally dealt with.

I’ve never had suicidal tendencies and/or attempts, and I’ve never lost a loved one to suicide. But I know people who have. I know it starts with pain, and pain is something I’m very familiar with. It’s something we’re all familiar with, and I know that, if the pain becomes bad enough, it can turn into suicide.

I don’t want that. Not for me, and certainly not for anyone in this world.
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The Power of Words: Meeting Jamie Tworkowski

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Me and Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms

I’m not one to smile often, and I never have been. I keep a straight face most of the time, and maybe that’s just my being an introvert. But there are rare instances in which I can’t help but smile, be happy, show everyone the positivity radiating inside of me.

June 8, 2015 was one of those days.

★★★

When I looked at the upper right corner of my Samsung Galaxy S4 and realized the time read “12:00 AM,” when I swiped left twice on my home screen to check my countdown and saw that the orange font had read “0 days,” the excitement came over me. The day had finally come: Jamie Tworkowski, the founder of To Write Love On Her Arms, was having the Chicago (Naperville) stop of his book tour.

Read more “The Power of Words: Meeting Jamie Tworkowski”