This I Believe Illinois

Weekdays at 7:45 a.m., 4:45 p.m., annually each February

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. 

2020 will be the 14th class to share what they believe with NPR Illinois!

Writing Guidelines 
I
mportant Dates and Deadlines

The State Journal-Register supports this effort by printing the selected essays in 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. 

This year, selected authors must attend the culminating event at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Musuem. Selected authors will recite their essays and receive their award.

Please see Writing Guidelines for an updated list of rules and regulations for this years essay program.

Selected Authors

2019

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: Numb Sprint

Mar 1, 2019
damon burdell midshot
Tamarra Newbern / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

The half-mile is a grueling race. It’s just long enough to be considered a distance run, and just short enough that it still requires a dead sprint. After passing the quarter-mile line, every half-mile racer knows they have the worst ahead of them. From there, it is another quarter-mile, even faster than the one before. 

This I Believe: I Believe in Dr. Seuss

Feb 28, 2019
Emma Gries midshot
Emma Gries

The Cat in the Hat ,  Green Eggs and Ham , and most importantly,  Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  I believe three Dr. Seuss books have taught me the most valuable lessons in life: to challenge the rules, to try new thing, and to seize life’s opportunities.

This I Believe: The Problem With Statistics

Feb 27, 2019
ally elzy midshot
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

I am seven times more likely to get pregnant as a teen. I am two times more likely to drop out of high school. I am four times more likely to commit a crime. All of these seem to be a little off for my story because I am not a statistic I am so much more.

This I Believe: The Essence of Playing Outside

Feb 26, 2019
Lydia Davidsmeier midshot
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

The sun is shining and the day holds promise and tranquility. I fumble for my shoes, slip them on, and then reach for the door. I step outside and make a running start to the backyard. 

This I Believe: A Team of Triumph and Solace

Feb 25, 2019
Camila Garcia
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

A brain, a notebook, a pencil. The only necessities I carried with me, for it was the only necessities essential for my survival. I, along with my crew, drifted above a rock that managed to be salvaged from the lava that cursed underneath. 

This I Believe: "Tough Like Bull"

Feb 22, 2019
marissa provenzale
Marissa Provenzale

"I immigrati, the ​immigrati, no ​The ​Immigrants ​"my grandma said through her thick Italian accent as she studied the title of the book on my night table. I took my earbuds out, and she looked at me and said, "You are lucky you are not an immigrant," and proceeded cleaning as if nothing happened. 

This I Believe: The Power of Empathy

Feb 21, 2019
Kenzie Prindle
Tamarra Newbern / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Humans are products of their environment and experiences. I am who I have been made into. I remember being a young girl working at a homeless shelter with my dad and asking, “Why is that man so angry? Everyone here is trying to help him.” My dad responded with a thought-provoking statement: “If you had struggled and been mistreated your entire life, how happy would you be?” 

This I Believe: Peel Off Labels

Feb 20, 2019
Tamarra Newbern / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

From the day you’re born, labels are put on you such as girl, poor, Mexican, and it wasn’t until those labels were used to hurt me that I knew the world wasn’t so simple.

This I Believe: The Numbers that Define Me

Feb 19, 2019
Tamarra Newbern / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

I believe that students, regardless of financial status, should be able to go to college. For the majority of my life, my family has struggled with financial issues, but looking at the bank account does not even scratch the surface of the problems that has caused. 

This I Believe: One Wish

Feb 18, 2019
Abby Smith midshot
Tamarra Newbern / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

I believe in the power of never wishing anything away. When I turned 16 years old, I began to work in retirement homes. I was never called anything other than the “little girl.”

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.

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