Our alumni are forever shaped by the faculty and staff members they encountered as students.

Here are some of the most moving responses to a simple question we posed in April on the Alumni Association’s 150th anniversary website: Who changed your life here at Illinois State?

Cody Walker

Public relations major

“I transferred to ISU in fall 2012 with goals of getting in the public relations major. “Intro to Public Relations” with Tom Lamonica was my first class of this newfound journey called college. I was very excited to arrive early for his class to get a good seat and boy, was I glad I did. Lamonica’s class was very exciting and covered a lot of information about public relations that I didn’t know before. Not only did I learn more about what PR actually is but, through his guest speakers and TA-guided lessons, I got an even deeper feel for how PR worked in the real world. Lamonica’s class was a huge inspiration to my PR career here at ISU, and ever since that first day I never looked back. Since then I have gotten involved with PRSSA and have had an internship with EatStreet. Lamonica’s professional mindset was exactly what I needed to foster my own path here at ISU.”

Christopher “C.J.” Schmid ’08


Doug Jennings was not only an outstanding professor of communication, but also acted as a mentor and advisor throughout my collegiate career. I had the great opportunity to work with Doug in the School of Communication and actively participate in the Illinois Speech and Theatre Association because of his guidance. Doug taught me so many lessons that assisted with my ability to obtain my first teaching position, and provided life lessons that will be instilled within me for the rest of my life.”

David Peterson ’94, M.S. ’98

East Peoria

Dave Krueger in the Office of Financial Aid was instrumental in helping me complete my bachelor’s degree and moving on into my career. He explained the financial aid process in a way that allowed me to make smart decisions, and eventually complete my B.S. and a master’s.”

Katherine Wirkes ’10

Glen Ellyn

“Dr. Dale Brown had an impact on the course of my life. I was not immediately accepted in the exercise science major. However, I was able to get into Anatomy 182 with Dr. Brown, who inspired me to work my tail off and get an A. His teaching style, which weaved between life lessons and current issues, always made the material easier to comprehend. He had an indescribable passion for his teaching that made each class fun, as hard as it is to believe. If that wasn’t enough he always made sure to open his office and time to anyone, including myself that needed help.

“After two semesters of following his advice, speaking with the right people, taking the necessary classes, getting involved in activities, and working my butt off, I got into the major! Through the internship program within the major I had a job before graduating, which was no easy task in the economy of 2009. This job led me into the next career that I obtained. The work ethic and skills that I developed in college through the assistance of Dr. Brown propelled me into the work world and taught me lessons that have carried me through many changes in my life. I’m passionate about my work and I never take no for an answer because I know there is always a way to achieve what you want. I still think of Dr. Brown when people ask me what my college experience was like. Thank you!”

Jae Butler ’06

Alum and current medical laboratory science major

“Associate Professor Byron Heidenreich (psychology/biology) has been far and away the biggest influence on my experience at Illinois State. When attending ISU for the first time in 2005, I took his psychopharmacology class and it was unlike any other class I had taken. It presented psychology in a completely different way and it ‘spoke’ to me. I approached him about working in his laboratory and that’s when the biggest impact happened.

“While working in his lab, I fell in love with lab work and it was during that time that I learned about another program ISU offered, medical laboratory science (MLS). I applied to the MLS program and was accepted before I even graduated with my first degree. In 2006, I graduated with a degree in psychology. I ended up withdrawing from the MLS program because I wanted to move and my husband wanted a different job. We moved around a lot for a while and I always thought I’d get to go back to school in one of the cities we ended up in.

“Eventually, in 2011, I decided that I definitely wanted to go back to school and get an MLS degree. However, the program wasn’t offered where I was living at the time and, on a whim, and despite living in Portland, Oregon, at the time, I applied to the MLS program at ISU again and was accepted. With my husband’s blessing and encouragement, I came back to ISU. I am back at ISU again for my second bachelor’s degree and am working with Dr. Heidenreich in his lab again. Without him, I wouldn’t be here.”

Michelle Warnimont

English major

“I remember sitting in the back row of my ENG 100 class. I was petrified of my professor. He wore a tweed jacket, an intimidating metal cowboy belt buckle, and had a gray beard that covered his mouth so I couldn’t read his lips. His name was Dr. Tim Hunt. This professor not only was intimidating, but he was an English genius. He seemed to know everything about the piece of literature we read and the historical background of the literature. As a wee little freshman, he served as my inspiration to where I would be at the end of my college career.

“As a senior, I sat in the front row of my ENG 110 class. Dr. Hunt—I called him “Hunty” now—remembered my first and last name. (My name is not quite Jane Smith.) I was completely thrown off that he had remembered me since I had sat in the back and never once raised my hand. Him remembering me four years later made me respect him even more. I went and visited him during his office hours and our conversation was off the topic of English and turned to my future career. He made me look at my future in a way no one else in my life had.

The professor that made me shake with intimidation previously, encouraged me to that I started to stand straighter throughout my senior year with pride of who I was as a student and as a person. “Hunty” was the most influential—educationally and personally—that I had the pleasure of having while at Illinois State.”

Want to share your story? Join the celebration on the Alumni Association’s 150th celebration website.