By Meghan Grill, UIC Alumna (Class of 2019)
During the end of my junior year of college, I made the decision to not only change majors but universities, leaving behind the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Having lived at Newman Hall at UIUC, I was very familiar with Newman Centers, and upon transferring, it was only natural to find my new Newman Center. Amidst the whirlwind of learning a new campus, I found the St. John Paul II Newman Center, allowing me an opportunity to escape from the busyness of college life. The community, openness, and love that was emitted during my time at UIC from the St. JPII Newman Center instilled in me a sense of belonging and identity at a campus where it’s easy to lose yourself.
However, my attachment and love of Newman didn’t come from the building; it came from the people inside that make Newman, well, Newman. To discuss how much Newman meant to me during my two years at UIC and to not talk about the staff present would be missing an integral part of my experience. Each and every staff member at Newman have touched my heart in both big and small ways, and without these people, my experience wouldn’t be what it was at UIC. I can’t begin to imagine who or where I would be without the experiences brought my way through Newman. For example, I had the privilege and honor of being one of the student directors for the Koinonia Retreat, which allowed me to exercise my leadership, share my own faith, and build community with my peers. Running a retreat, participating in the celebration of Mass, leading evening prayer, and joining together with the Newman community for various events have all contributed to the person and leader I am today. I think back to the mixed emotions I felt at transferring schools at the end of my junior year, but if I had never taken the leap to transfer, I wouldn’t have found the community that I did at the St. JPII Newman Center; and for that, I am forever grateful.