This I Believe Illinois

Weekdays at 7:45 AM, 12:45 PM, 4:45 PM, Annually each February

Thank you for making This I Believe 2017 a success. Ten selected essays as read by their authors are now airing and available below.

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. 

2017 is the eleventh 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. 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

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 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.

Alexa Brown midshot
John McMillan / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

“You’re so smart for a black girl” is something I have heard repeatedly in my eighteen years. When I was little, I would greet these words with a small smile and a timid “Thank you.”

Brian Barstead midshot
Rachel Lattimore / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS


This I Believe: A Daily Realization

Feb 27, 2015
RACHEL LATTIMORE / NPR ILLINOIS | 91.9 UIS

I recently stumbled upon a neat little web series entitled “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows” by John Koenig. Every short video consists of a newly invented word he explains in depth. One word in particular jumped out at me: sonder.  “sonder,” n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as yours. This feeling has always been something I have taken note of. 

This I Believe: A Universal Language

Feb 26, 2015
CREDIT RACHEL LATTIMORE / NPR ILLINOIS | 91.9 UIS

One sunny September afternoon, one of my friends and I were searching the farthest reaches of our brains for some activity to keep us occupied. We often played the guitar together, but since the fall weather was so unusually pleasant, we could not just sit in some dingy basement and play to the termites in the rafters. We decided to take our music to the great outdoors; specifically, our town square.

This I Believe: In The Piano

Feb 25, 2015
Jacob Pearson headshot
Rachel Lattimore / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

The frost tapped on my window as I sat at the antique desk in my room on that icy winter afternoon. Eternal mounds of snow pressed its hands up against our front door, and it concealed me from the exploration I longed for. 

This I Believe: Unique Flavors

Feb 24, 2015
Kanisha Granderson headshot
Rachel Lattimore / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

I believe in ice cream. Different flavors, different colors and smells. Some taste good and some not so good. The happiness you get when you find the flavor you like. The first bite and joy. I loved the flavor Jamoca. It was my favorite. Its coffee taste, brown color and smell - so deeply good. I wanted to try something new. I tried butter pecan. It was the new best. Its vanilla coating, walnuts on top and inside. I had switched. Like the click of a light switch but I wasn’t always so comfortable or confident about trying new things.

Tess Peterson Headshot
Rachel Lattimore / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

I love to travel.  At 17, I have visited more than 40 states. I have been to Canada and Mexico, and this past summer I visited China.  One of the most exciting days of my life was the day I received my passport.

This I Believe: Pickled Hysteria

Feb 20, 2015
Brett Palmer headshot
Rachel Lattimore / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

On a frigid January evening, I, along with other members of my church, decided to donate time to serving a hot meal to people planning to spend their night sleeping on a childlike cot in a warm, temperature controlled Salvation Army homeless shelter. I have no idea what to expect on a night like this. 

This I Believe: In Confusion

Feb 19, 2015
Larissa Mulch headshot
Rachel Lattimore / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

People have often asked me why I’m not straight, and I like to tell them the following: When I was four years old I sneezed and no one said “bless you” and at that moment the devil entered my soul. Of course the journey to discovering my sexuality was not nearly so simple. It was, and still is more like the yellow brick road; long, winding, Judy Garland is probably involved somehow, and it’s been very, very confusing. I believe in confusion.

This I Believe: In Deadlines

Feb 18, 2015
Jillian Cole headshot
Rachel Lattimore / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Imagine everyone could live forever - never aging, never worrying about having time to do the things we envision because we have limitless years. However, such a life is impossible. Humans are not made to last. 

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