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Tie Dye Dragons by The Front Bottoms. Beggars can’t be musical choosers. I’m a sucker for this shit y’all.

What does patriotism mean to you? Is it something nationalistic? Do you need to vigorously defend anyone who has that small similarity with you? Do you take arbitrary amounts of pride in someone who has nothing in common with you besides… well, what exactly? It’s the last one for me. I fucking love the:

Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

This is not some kind of joke, meme, troll, etc. I love this shit more than my parents, more than my my (ex-)girlfriends, more than my best friends. In truth, it’s because it brought me to all of them> I fucking love IEEE and ECE and ll Illinois and all the pieces of it. I know it’s not the most popular thing in the world, so let me take some time and explain why.

First off, I have never been hurt more than I was at UIUC. I was beaten, abused, picked back up, taunted, and spit right back down. ECE was hard. It was not easy. I hate how people assume that just because I was loud that college was easy for me, so I’m taking the chance to say it quite explicitly: I had many miserable nights trying to learn things unsuccessfully and ultimately failing my exams. It was not easy! I struggled, kicked, screamed, drank, ignored, complained, whined, and everything in between. You know what? I got through it - not alone, but with my friends. I wish I could record how much I love those people. Not just BBB, but the people I learned from and the people I taught. Learning that everyone is always learning and trying to do these various new things is when you realize no one’s perfect, some people just work harder than others.

Again, not trying to be a downer here. In reality, I worked harder than everyone else sometimes, and other times I would throw the flag in and let other people happily beat me. Except, well, when I type it out – not quite. I was never when they beat me. I used to think this was a personal thing, but no longer. Now I’ve come to realize it was an Illinois thing. No one was ever happy when they came in 2nd place, or did an “acceptable” amount of work. They either were aiming for number one, or were just trying to pass. I never met anyone who was striving for average.

Every alumni I’ve met has only continued that philosophy. People openly talked about how they’re bored while doing legitimate, cool, “real” jobs. And you know what they think? Boring! Nothing new! Been there, fuck that, what’s new? When people don’t have answers for them, you know what they do? They fucking quit and move onwards and upwards. They’re not satisfied. This is not one case, this is not just my friends, this is the entire culture of the school. No matter who I meet, they have the same exact opinions and lifestyle. I love them. I love you.

It wouldn’t be fair to write this blog post without acknowledging the cirumstances. I know that I am pretty loud – as a result, more people know me than I expect. But that’s exactly it! People I don’t/barely/3rd order/2nd order/should 1st order know all have that exact same lifestyle. I love them! I love them so much. They don’t fuck around. Sure, sometimes people play around and troll during internships and whatever, but we all know that’s temporary.

I want to talk to every freshmen at ECE@Illinois every year and remind them just how luck they are. I want to talk to every sophomore and remind them it gets better, this is not what life is like. I want to talk to every junior and tell them that the light, the future, it’s just so close, you can reach out and touch it. I want to tell every senior that yes, you are massively overqualified for most jobs you are applying to, but you know what? You are going to raise the bar on day one for what you are trying to do. I want to tell every grad student I ever met two things:

  1. Thank you for what you’re trying to do, and what you’re done
  2. Thank you for not giving up – on you, on me, on anyone

That’s all I ever wanted as a grad student. It might be (and probably is) for those other students, and I wish I knew the perfect words for them. It took me two years to figure out the words I needed to hear, and when I finally heard them, I finally realized that was all I needed. Every hour you spend in the office, grading one more paper, reading one more publication, testing one more simulation, someone out there is grateful. Someone out there cares about what you do and only wants you to do better. They don’t want you to do what you’re doing now, they want you to do better.

You can fucking do it. I did it. It took everything I had, but I did it. You can do it. I am not anything special, and honestly, you probably are. Go out there. Change the world. When you say you went to ECE@Illinois – continue dropping jaws. Continue making sure people do a double take. Continue making sure they doubt you, then blowing them away. You are the greatest people I’ve ever met, and you’re not going to let me down.