Andrew Hollingsead came into his freshman year in college hoping to pick up a little political experience and make a few friends. Instead, he became a member of a statewide board charged with overseeing a world-class institution of higher education with a $3.4 billion budget, became one of the top young people in his political party in Illinois, and worked under a group of highly regarded lobbyists.
Andrew believes that UIS creates an atmosphere where motivated students can grow, both personally and professionally.
Andrew said that he decided to come to UIS as a Capital Scholar because the program was something new and he thought it could help him carve out an identity for himself after high school.
As a Capital Scholar, Andrew says, “We had a good time every day, but we also developed the research, writing, and critical thinking skills that will put us at an advantage in graduate or professional schools and into our respective careers.”
During his sophomore year, Andrew decided to run for UIS’ student spot on the U of I Board of Trustees. He won and, after serving a year on the Board, was reelected for the following year.
Andrew said he first decided to run for the position primarily because he believed it could be used as an instrument for progress. “UIS is a tremendous campus that is part of the proud U of I tradition. With that, the sky is the limit, and I was excited by the opportunity to shape a small piece of our legacy,” he said.
During his two terms as a student trustee, Andrew enjoyed being able to meet with biologists from Chicago, engineers from Urbana, political leaders from Springfield, alumni leaders in business, and everyone in between.
“Whether it was discussing tuition issues, debt capacity, or building a new recreation center, there was never a dull conversation or a lack of something new to learn,” he said.
His tenure on the BOT has given Andrew a greater appreciation for the value of higher education.
“That really connected one night when I was driving home from Chicago after working with other Board members on the recent presidential search,” he remembers. “When I was a baby, my parents had to struggle to buy diapers for me. But because of their hard work and the power of public higher education, here I was, at age 22, able to meet with leaders in business, law, and education to select the sixteenth University of Illinois president,” he said.
Andrew also thinks the relationship UIS has with state politics is phenomenal and that aspect of the campus clearly stands out and makes UIS an ideal place to build a career in politics. He has used his own experience as a tool to heighten his political knowledge by taking advantage of the opportunities available to UIS students, including serving an Applied Study internship with the Illinois Banker’s Association during spring 2005. He said this experience allowed him to enhance his contacts in the Capitol while gaining practical experience with legislators, lobbyists, and many other players in state politics.
“Most importantly,” he said, “UIS gave me access to the people I needed to meet to start a career in politics, and in this field, that’s half the battle.”
For the fall semester, Andrew was chosen for an internship with the Illinois House Republican Legislative Staff. As an intern, he will be assigned to a legislative committee, where he will conduct research on proposed legislation and advise the legislators on his findings.
Between classes and his work with the Board of Trustees, Andrew was able to build close relationships and grow as a person alongside many people who seemed much like a family to him. “The family-like atmosphere and close relationships I’ve developed with other students, faculty, staff, and administrators at UIS has made my college experience more than I could have hoped for.”
This summer, I am interested in learning about other people's experiences at UIS. If you’d like to share your campus experiences, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.