This I Believe Illinois

Weekdays at 7:45 AM, 4:45 PM, Annually each February

Thank you to everyone who submitted! You will be contacted in the coming weeks if your essay was selected. 
Click here to view important details and dates. 

Click here to read the prompt.
Call 217-206-6502 for more information or questions.

This I Believe Illinois is our annual essay program for Illinois high school seniors. An expression of where their minds are as they prepare to enter the adult world. 

Starting as a five minute radio program hosted by Edward R. Murrow in 1951, This I Believe gave contributors the chance to write a short essay articulating what they believe. Since then, the idea has been adopted by NPR Illinois. 

2018 is the twelfth class to share what they believe with NPR Illinois!

 

The State Journal-Register supports this effort by printing the selected essays in The Voice section of the newspaper.

Credit CREDIT ROTARY CLUB OF SPRINGFIELD SUNRISE

NPR Illinois airs the essays in their authors' voices and the audio is streamed below. In 2007, the Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise, partnered with NPR Illinois to sponsor This I Believe Illinois. Each year ten selected authors read their essays at a Rotary Club meeting where the club presents each student with a $100 scholarship.

Selected Authors

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

  • Lauren Ross - Rochester HS- I Believe Strength Comes from Friendship
  • Sarah Brunson - Springfield HS - Religious Tolerance Could Bring Peace 
  • Michael DeFraties - Springfield HS - Slander as Entertainment 
  • Diandra Wilson, Southeast HS - I Believe in Vanity
  • Libby Morse - Springfield HS - The Joy a Photograph Brings 
  • Nick Murphy - Southeast HS - Taking Things for Granted
  • Caitlyn Barnes - Southeast HS - Hypocrisy of Our Education System
  • Sam Schoenburg - Springfield HS - I Believe in Family
  • Krista Walbert - Southeast HS - Inspiration in Any Situation
  • McKenna Blair - Lanphier HS - You Do Not Have to Be an Adult to Make a Difference

This I Believe: The Power of Television

Mar 2, 2018

As a young kid, my father was out of the picture. My mother had two jobs in order to support three kids. I grew up in a rough neighborhood, and so I never played with the neighborhood kids. We didn’t have board games or video games, but luckily we had television. 

CARTER STALEY / NPR ILLINOIS 91.9 UIS

We should all live our lives with the same spirit as the family farmer. This I believe. There are many life lessons to be learned from our nation’s farmers. They are quick to offer help in times of need, are reliable and responsible, and are protective of all in their care, whether it be family, livestock, or the land. I believe my grandfather was the perfect practitioner of these values through his lifetime. 

This I Believe: Truth Will Set Me Free

Feb 28, 2018
CARTER STALEY / NPR ILLINOIS 91.9 UIS

I believe in embracing the truth. Living with my head in the sand and pretending that everything is normal is just not an option. See, I didn’t have what most people would call an orthodox upbringing; I’ve lived with my grandparents ever since I was very little, ever since my mother choose to give up custody of my sister and me because she couldn't provide for us. 

CARTER STALEY / NPR ILLINOIS 91.9 UIS

The past is something that will always be there to push me forward. In my youth, my family struggled over many obstacles. My father was an alcoholic and got pulled over one too many times and was sent to prison.

This I Believe: Sometimes You Gotta Lose the Shoe

Feb 26, 2018
CARTER STALEY / NPR ILLINOIS 91.9 UIS

I believe in losing the shoe. I learned the value of this basic principle during a moment when a shoe seemed to be of critical importance.

This I Believe: The Cathartic Power of Crying

Feb 23, 2018
CARTER STALEY / 91.9 UIS

I am a cry baby and I am unashamed. Despite the stigma that those who cry a lot are weak or emotionally unstable, I am neither of those things. If anything, I feel all the stronger because I completely accept the fact that sometimes my eyeballs are just gonna have to look like leaky faucets.

This I Believe: Where is Home?

Feb 22, 2018
CARTER STALEY / NPR ILLINOIS 91.9 UIS

I believe that being “homeless” is a choice. Yes, that is honestly what I believe but let me explain. 

This I Believe: Pens and Paper

Feb 21, 2018
CARTER STALEY / NPR ILLINOIS 91.9 UIS

"You've sure changed a lot since freshman year, huh?" This is a question I get asked a fair amount. I usually reply with something along the lines of a polite smile or a laugh. The truth is, I have changed a lot. I've never really told anyone about this except the select few, but I'm almost 18 now, so it's time to come clean and leave this behind me. It's finally time for me to face my fears and embrace who I was ­ no matter how much I didn't like her. Have you ever met a drama queen? You know, that one person who always has to have all the attention on them? A few years ago, I was one of the worst ones out there. And I hated her just as much as everyone else did. 

This I Believe: Home is Abstract

Feb 20, 2018
CARTER STALEY / NPR ILLINOIS 91.9 UIS

Growing up, I learned that the words “home” and “house” were synonymous. While the words are similar, I believe that “home” has a more personal, positive connotation. As I grew older, I began to experiment with out­-of-­the-­box concepts and realized that home is not just a location, but rather the people I love and hold near and dear to my heart.

This I Believe: The Misconception of Carpe Diem

Feb 19, 2018
Shruthi Mekala midshot
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

My family has never been that composed, seemingly perfect clan that always “has it together;” actually, we’re that family sneaking in late to church or sprinting through the airport to narrowly make the flight. 

This I Believe: The American Dream

Feb 24, 2017
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This is the story of a couple of people who were not lucky enough to be born in the land of the free. Instead of accepting their fate, these two people, along with their families, accomplished a goal they never thought possible.

This I Believe: Being Fluffy And Fabulous

Feb 23, 2017
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

"Beauty is a state of mind, not a state of the body." Society portrays that in order to be beautiful you have to be skinny and have the perfect body. Women are made to believe this because they cannot help but see it everywhere.

This I Believe: Ripping The Band-Aid Off

Feb 22, 2017
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

I believe in ripping the Band-Aid off. The Band-Aid of racial stereotypes that is.

This I Believe: That Kid

Feb 21, 2017
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Everyone is unique in his or her own way, and more often than not they try to hide their distinctive qualities because of the fear that they will be viewed as weird or even as a pariah. Yet I have never found a reason to fear the opinions of others, or a circumstance not to be myself. 

This I Believe: Insane Sanity

Feb 20, 2017
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Since the beginning of my life, my mother has been a bit of an odd duck. She isn't crazy, but I wouldn't say she is your normal 50-year-old. She is a high school teacher and is always finding ways to brighten students' days whether by giving them a piece of candy, a kind compliment, or literally sprinkling them with sparkles.

This I Believe: The Milky Way Theory

Feb 17, 2017
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

My great grandma always loved Milky Way bars. She also loved assuming everyone else liked them, too. I remember her taking them out of her freezer and giving them to me, saying, "Here, eat this," to which I would reply, "No Grandma, I don't like Milky Ways."

This I Believe: Superheroes Are Real

Feb 16, 2017
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

We all need a hero. A hero is someone that we hold in high esteem, whether it be because they have superhuman strength or make us feel like superhumans with their kind words. 

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This I Believe: Trans-cendent

Feb 15, 2017
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9

This I Believe: I am who I am.

On Oct. 6, 1998, two men attacked Matthew Shepard, a gay college student. They beat him, tied him to a remote fence post outside of Laramie, Wyoming, and left. Shepard died on Oct. 11. His story brought national attention to homophobic violence for the first time.

I was born 12 days after Matt died.

This I Believe: I AM More Than A Number

Feb 14, 2017
Carter Staley / NPR Illinios | 91.9 UIS

The world is filled with numbers. A bunch of ones and zeroes that make up the world. Numbers that tell you what items are valued at. Numbers that tell us when to wake up. Numbers that tell us what time to go to sleep. Numbers that tell us our rank in society. Numbers that tell us our intelligence level. Numbers are everywhere in the world. 

This I Believe: The Art Of Tree Hugging

Feb 13, 2017
Carter Staley / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Soil coats my hands and a sun beats down on me. I've spent hours now in the September sun. My pants are covered in mud and I can feel the sunburn start to develop on my shoulders, but as I look back it all seems worth it. Over a hundred piles of turned up earth resides on damp ground. It may not look like much now, but in a decade these trees will tower over our property in a massive forest of powerful oaks.

This I Believe: Rotary Club Visits

Mar 8, 2016
Rachel Lattimore / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

On March 2, 9, and 16 the selected authors for the This I Believe Illinois essay program read their essays in front of the Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise. They were each awarded $100 scholarships as well. 

You can click here to listen to their essays. 

This I Believe: Hey Black Girl

Feb 26, 2016
John McMillan / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

“Hey, Black Girl! What do you see?”

I see she is embellished with gold and lacquered with ivory. In the lush savannah grass, I see where my father’s ancestors, the glorious queens and heroic warriors of Nigeria, spilled their beautiful crimson blood to inundate their land. I see Africa varnished in majesty. But she does not want to see me.

This I Believe: Don't Fear the Front Row

Feb 24, 2016
John McMillan / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Something I have always noticed, walking into class on the first day of school, is how seats in the back of the room fill up the quickest. Students rush to these spots as if there were free cell phones on their desks. In a way, it’s understandable.

This I Believe: (Partially) Black Comedy

Feb 23, 2016
John McMillan / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

I believe in comedy. I believe that in every situation, from terrifying to tragic, there’s a joke to be made. 

This I Believe: Laugh A Little

Feb 23, 2016
John McMillan / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” I absolutely love this quote by Charles Dickens because of the truth it holds. Laughter is so important to life and should be something you do every single day. 

This I Believe: Life Needs More Cowbell

Feb 22, 2016
Noah Schlosser headshot
John McMillan / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The world would be better off with more cowbell.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you need to check out one of Saturday Night Live’s most famous sketches.  Performed in April of 2000, “More Cowbell” starred Christopher Walken as producer “The Bruce Dickinson” and Will Ferrell as fictional cowbell player Gene Frenkle, along with other SNL cast members as the band Blue Öyster Cult in a parody of their recording session for “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.”

Janie Sutherd midshot
John McMillan / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Many people remember when they first laid eyes on a dog or puppy their parents said could be their own. Others don’t, because they’ve had that dog since before they can remember. Whatever the case, if you have one, that fur-baby has surely affected your life for the better. Dogs play such a huge role in human lives. They are our children, our comforters, and undoubtedly more important to some of us than many other things. These things are true for many, myself included.

This I Believe: Collecting Bottles

Feb 18, 2016
Hannah Mobley midshot
John McMillan / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

I consider myself a strong person, or at least I want to. As the oldest of five children, I’ve had to keep a tough act, taking responsibility and setting a good example for my siblings. I took pride in myself for being a person who could handle it, even through all the change that happened in my life. Whether it was moving for the eighth time, switching churches again, or starting public high school after six years of homeschooling, my strength pulled me through. Or so I thought.

This I Believe: Selfies

Feb 17, 2016
John McMillan / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Taking a good selfie isn’t the easiest job in the world. I mean, you have to get the perfect lighting, the angle of your camera has to be foolproof to highlight all of your best features, and well the person in front of the lens has to be damn near flawless. 

This I Believe: My Personal Veggie Tale

Feb 16, 2016
Jordan Lott midshot
John McMillan / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Cucumbers. To some, a healthy and delicious addition to a salad. To me, a reminder of my own humanity.

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