With summer in full swing, it can often feel like children are taking over our campus. Indeed, we have a thriving camp system with thousands of kids ages six to 18 coming to Illinois throughout the next few months. While these camps are a wonderful service to kids and families, our camps are also strategic advantages for the university. For many families these experiences serve to set the first and lasting impression of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They can be the start of a relationship that will last a lifetime.
The sheer numbers are astounding. By the end of the summer, 5,400 kids will have stayed in our residence halls. We have 5,600 kids signed up for 67 different athletic camps. There are 1,061 kids signed up for the Illinois Summer Youth Music (ISYM) program with more enrolling every day. Truly, we offer so many summer camps that I could not possibly name them all; we have dozens more. And it doesn’t stop with just those numbers. Those kids have a sphere of influence - friends, siblings and parents. We hope that when they return home they tell people in their lives what a great experience they had on campus.
Though I’ve been at the university for almost two years now, I’m continuously learning new and surprising things about the Illinois family. For many, our summer camps are a person’s first brush with Illinois. Many of our camps have been held for more than 25 years and have left a legacy. For example, many years ago one woman came to ISYM. She was struck by the campus and became enamored with being part of the community. Though her musical pursuits eventually faded, she decided to attend Illinois and major in education. Fifteen years later, as a proud alumna, she sent her son to an Illinois basketball camp. He too later attended the university. It is amazing how a generation of alumni can start with one individual in a memorable week.
Along with our historically popular programs, we are updating and adding camps every summer. One of our newer, more popular camps is the Girls Adventures in Mathematics, Engineering and Science (G.A.M.E.S). In the last two summers, enrollment seen nearly a 50% increase. We are also aiming to foster diversity in our camps. We offer many scholarships and have corporate sponsorships to create opportunities for high-achieving, underprivileged kids. We’re also expanding our global reach. Our campers come from across the nation, and even some from across the globe. G.A.M.E.S. has one camper from China this year.
You can see we have an amazing opportunity to engage not only campers but also their families. Our camps offer world-class training by our distinguished staff and faculty. But even more than that, when a camper steps onto campus for the first time, they are given a glimpse of what it might be like to attend college here. That experience can also help a college education to feel more accessible. When kids are staying in our residence halls, making their own choices within a safe, supervised environment, we hope it builds confidence and urges them to succeed when they get back to school. Camps are an amazing recruiting tool. Our camps not only teach specific skills, but also inspire students for the future.
Around the campus
Congratulations to Jean Wirth, a doctoral student in chemistry, who has been selected to attend the 2013 meeting of Nobel laureates in Lindau, Germany. Only 73 graduate students from the United States were selected following a national competition. The meeting, held annually, brings together select graduate students from around the world in chemistry, economics, medicine, physics and physiology for a week of lectures by and informal discussions with Nobel Prize winners.
Congratulations to the five graduate students who have been awarded FMC Technologies Inc. fellowships. The fellowships support graduate students in engineering, chemistry, business administration and related fields. This year’s awardees are Utsav Agrawal, a doctoral student in chemical engineering; Piyush Gupta, a doctoral student in civil engineering; Priyanka Kushwaha, a master’s student in business administration; Matthias Uhl, a master’s student in business administration; Augusto Yim Alvarado, a master’s student in civil and environmental engineering, and in business administration.
Congratulations to Erin Olson and Jessica Wilson, Illinois graduate students who have been named the 2013-2014 Paul D. Doolen Graduate Scholars for the Study of Aging.
Congratulations to the seven students who have been awarded Avery Brundage Scholarships for excellence in academics and athletics. This year’s awardees are Catherine Foreman, veterinary medicine; Keithan Hedrick, law; Allison Osoba, applied health sciences; Ryne Roper, education; Jaime Johnson, law; Marin Thompson, liberal arts and sciences; Helen Freeman, applied health sciences.