This I Believe

This I Believe 2020 Event

Mar 5, 2020
Chris Wills/ALPLM

The NPR Illinois This I Believe 2020 essay contest wrapped up Wednesday March 4 with a special event at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.  The 10 winning essayists read their submissions before a crowd that included parents and relatives, friends, teachers, administrators, state lawmakers and others. 

This I Believe: Unconventional Beauty

Feb 28, 2020
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Imagine you’re 11 years old and back in middle school. You’re walking down the hallway when a boy says to you “Dang. You’re darker than me.” He says it in a condescending way, but you don’t understand why it’s such a bad thing. You don’t understand why your whole life, people have told you that you were “too dark.”

This I Believe: False Boundaries

Feb 27, 2020
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

I cross the train tracks on the Stanford Avenue extension, and suddenly, I'm transported. For many in my town, the train tracks symbolize a wholly different world. I've been told the boundary set by these train tracks is going to negatively impact my education and high school experience. When you go to school on this side of the train tracks, everybody on the other side has a preconceived idea of what the future has in store for you. Some think it's wise to file for a transfer to another school on the other side, but I found it wiser to not listen. 

This I Believe: I Believe in a Royal Flush

Feb 26, 2020
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Hannah laughs and eats her strawberries out of the pink container that matches her pink lunch-box that her mom packs every night. I laugh along with everyone and their problems, sitting silently thinking about mine. “My mom got mad at me last night because I didn’t finish cleaning the third floor” Lilly complains to people at my seventh-grade lunch table. ​You have a third floor. “Oh my gosh my dad and mom last night wouldn’t let me go into the living room because they were working with a client.” Sammy shares. ​Imagine your parents living together​.

This I Believe: Honesty is the Best Policy

Feb 25, 2020
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

My truthfulness could have cost us a trip to the Illinois State Tournament. Golf is a game of integrity. In tournaments, players track their own scores, as verified by their opponent playing partners. Golfers typically play in groups of four with all four players from different competing schools.

This I Believe: I Believe in Big Ideas

Feb 24, 2020
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

I believe that there’s nothing wrong with big ideas. When I was young, I was diagnosed with ADHD. Essentially, my brain is extremely energetic. I have a lot of thoughts cycling through my head at any given time. With nothing to distract it, my brain can fall down rabbit holes of thought rather easily.

This I Believe: Superheroes

Feb 21, 2020
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman flying over Metropolis to bring a stop to the actions of villains of the city and peace to the minds of its citizens. At a young age, I believed that when I was in trouble, some type of hero would swoop in and save the day. While it may seem silly to think that there are heroes hiding in the shadows —ready to come to the aid of civilization at a moment's notice — I know that there are people in my life with extraordinary abilities that only a true superhero could possess.

This I Believe: Chemistry Lessons

Feb 20, 2020
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

I’ve never been fond of science, and I don’t think I ever will be. On my first day of sophomore year of high school, I was dreading chemistry. On day one, our teacher greeted us at the classroom door. He wore a periodic table t-shirt and a leg brace that didn’t slow him down a bit as he hopped around the classroom learning our names, showing us lab equipment, and promising us that we would have a great year. I remained skeptical, to say the least.

This I Believe: My Black is Beautiful

Feb 19, 2020
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

The first few years of my life, I never knew the world could be so cruel. I was just a little girl, always smiling and happy, oblivious to the hatred surrounding me. Reality hit me hard when I first teased about my dark skin at seven years old. The phrases, ‘ugly gorilla’ and ‘burnt food’ were branded into my mind; I never thought I’d heal from the pain those words caused me. 

This I Believe: I Believe in Passing the Ball

Feb 18, 2020
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

I see a timid, shaky-kneed freshman, eyes wide with fear for being on the court during the varsity game. She is the most open player to receive a pass. With a flick of my wrists, the ball zooms into her possession. 

This I Believe: Chalk

Feb 17, 2020
Jatin Dhamrait midshot
Beatrice Bonner / NPR Illinois 91.9 UIS

Chalk is what I believe in; I believe in the dusty, white, annoyingly porous material that nearly every teacher despises. Chalk has been intertwined in my life for a multitude of years, from laying on the ground near the street to understanding Java code in the classroom, I have grown to fully appreciate the importance of chalk as an analogy for life. 

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: 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."

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