In high school, my focus on marching band initially steered me away from considering English as a major. However, exposure to advanced English courses, particularly AP English and creative writing, shifted my perspective. Analyzing literature, especially when connected to contemporary pop culture, deepened my appreciation for its societal relevance. My creative writing teacher, a University of Illinois alum, recommended the university's English program during a conversation. This guidance, along with my exploration of creative writing and English courses, influenced me to pursue a dual degree in English and Creative Writing. 

During my sophomore year at Illinois, I joined the marching band, although the COVID-19 pandemic forced our activities online. Simultaneously, my involvement in the Philippine Student Association (PSA) enriched my college experience, providing opportunities for cultural exploration and leadership development. Serving as the coordinator for the Filipino Culture Night, I adapted the event to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions, leading the production of a student film celebrating Filipino culture. This involvement strengthened my cultural identity and equipped me with leadership skills extending beyond college. 

My thesis professor, Professor Jim Hansen, stands out among the influential figures in Illinois for his invaluable guidance and encouragement in selecting a unique topic for my thesis. He inspired me to explore a unique angle within the horror genre, focusing on Internet horror and its influence on online media consumption. 

My time in Illinois significantly enhanced my communication and teamwork abilities, vital for professional development. Engaging with diverse groups taught me empathy and adaptability, while my passion for learning allowed me to cultivate a versatile skill set applicable across various fields. Recognizing the broad applicability of an English major, I realized its value extended beyond traditional pathways. Despite assumptions that I would pursue a teaching career, I was drawn to opportunities in social media due to their storytelling and communication potential. 

Two internships during my junior and senior years further enriched my experience in social media and communication roles. My junior year, I interned as a Social Media Specialist at the Humanities Professional Resource Center, now the LAS Career Services. The summer before my senior year, I interned at Cargill as a Communication and Market Research intern. Both internships enhanced my communication, strategy, and teamwork skills, crucial for my publishing career. 

Although I didn't have a full-time job lined up post-graduation, my determination to gain relevant experience through internships eventually led me to secure my current role as a marketing intern with the Doubleday marketing team at Penguin Random House. Leveraging connections and actively reaching out to recruiters played a pivotal role in this achievement, highlighting the importance of networking in the competitive job market. 

Looking ahead, I am excited about the myriad opportunities for growth and exploration within the publishing industry. Its vastness and flexibility offer potential for diverse career trajectories, aligning with my aspirations for a fulfilling and dynamic career path. While the specifics of my future journey remain uncertain, I am enthusiastic about working towards a fulfilling career that aligns with my values and passions. 

Reflecting on my college experience in Illinois, it is incredible how four years can encompass so much. The journey from freshman to senior year is a whirlwind of activities and experiences that shape who you become. My time in Illinois broadened my perspective of the world around me. It was a place where I thrived, discovered myself, found my community, and explored my passions. 

Appreciating the present moment while planning for the future is crucial. Cherishing late nights and spontaneous outings, whether to a favorite restaurant or simply hanging out on the quad, is essential. These experiences, regardless of their size, help shape your time in Illinois. Reminding yourself to pause and appreciate the journey is key.