This I Believe

This I Believe: Great Sacrifices Give Great Rewards

Feb 24, 2014
Pauline with headphones
Dan LaGrasso / NPR Illinois

 It is July 31st. I am standing in an airport far away from here. I turn around for the last time and see my parents and three sisters waving goodbye with tears running down their faces. I have not cried a single tear today. I think the tears are all gone. I cried enough yesterday. I am way too excited to cry anyway. Today it is finally going to happen. I have been waiting for this moment for almost two years. I believe that this year is going to be worth it.

This I Believe: In Dirt

Feb 21, 2014
Abagail Perrero headshot
Randy Eccles / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

I believe in Saturday mornings with my mother. Waking up in the morning, the sun just barely peeking in through my curtains. Struggling into last night’s jeans, eyes still glued shut with sleep. 

This I Believe: Gay Forever, Hell For Never

Feb 20, 2014
Gabe Knott at the microphone
Dan LaGrasso / NPR Illinois

You’re going to hell. Yes, you, the young male wearing the loud shirt, scarf, and skinny jeans. Yes, you, the student tutor with a 3.8 GPA, who aspires to have a family, who has goals for your life and a career in mind and who was baptized in a Southern Baptist church; none of that matters when the TRUTH is that you aren’t natural and neither are your actions.  

Out of the ten student authors selected for the 2014 This I Believe program, five attend Southeast High School in Springfield. Congrats to them and all the authors!

This I Believe: Independence Creates Happiness

Feb 19, 2014
Stepanie Dunn headshot
Dan LoGrasso / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

In middle school I asked  myself a lot of questions. Why do I have multiple teachers? Why is my body changing so much? Why do I feel attraction to all these boys? One thing I thought I knew was love; I loved my family so I completely understood what love was and what it took to love someone for life, right? In eighth grade I started “dating” Joe. It was the stereotypical boyfriend/girlfriend, middle school relationship. Our parents drove us to and from our houses watching movies, playing video games, and going to the park to kick a soccer ball around.

This I Believe: The Real Me

Feb 18, 2014
Katherine Bowman
Dan LoGrasso / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

I don’t choose to wear makeup. Some people may look at me with disdain, and others wonder why I opt out of such a common practice. I see girls around me with perfect faces, unable to tell that they are covered with the cloudy foundation, and with their eyes painted just right so that I find it easy to look and hard to look away. But I myself find no yearning to be “beautiful,” or to look “flawless” simply so that others may be more visually attracted to me.

WUIS' This I Believe partner, The State Journal-Register, printed the first week's essays in the Tuesday Voice section.

A Squirrely Story

Feb 17, 2014
Mason Lott
Randy Eccles / WUIS

It was a beautiful summer day.  The sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and I was flying down Glenarm Road at speeds upward of 20 MPH.  The grass was high that day, providing an attractive view, and I was enjoying the ride with the rest of my cycling group who rode just a few paces ahead.

We were forty-five miles into our weekend ride, when I heard a small rustle in the tall grass. Moments later, I saw a ball headed right towards me.  The next thing I know, the “ball” was lodged in between my front tire and the frame of my bike.  

Pickle Dog

Feb 27, 2013
Kristen Koch - Jacksonville High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


As a child, I would always wait with excitement by the door, counting down the minutes for my parents to come home from work. Now that I am in high school, I often fail to greet my parents with anything other than a “what’s for dinner?”

Sharing Meals

Feb 26, 2013
Elaina Conley-Keck - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


Renay DeFrees - Lanphier High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


Scared.  Utterly terrified.  That is the only way I can describe how I felt when I was told my father was going to die. I was eight years old when my father was diagnosed with cancer. That was November 18th, 2002. A few weeks passed and everyone held their breath. On December 16th we were told the cancer was terminal. The carcinoma had metastasized and had already spread throughout his whole body. The doctors did not expect him to make it through the week. “It is time to say goodbye”, they said.


Feb 24, 2013
Samantha Comerford - Rochester High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


I believe in kindness. The small act of holding the door, or smiling as someone passes. Everyday on the news I hear of an arguing government, a suffering economy, and a war overseas. It is hard to keep a kind spirit when it seems that anger surrounds us. In times like these, I believe that kindness is more important than ever.

Being the Little Big Brother

Feb 23, 2013
Aaron Vasquez
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


 The strength and willingness to accept those with autism may seem to be a daunting task at times, but many people overlook the strength the few individuals that are diagnosed with autism actually possess.


Feb 22, 2013
Vlada Gudzenko
WUIS/Illinois Issues


The Girl Detective and Me

Feb 21, 2013
Elisabeth Dunn – Sangamon Valley High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

At the age of eight, I was introduced to the young woman who would change my life.  The more I learned about her, the more I admired her. We went on adventures together, and though some were a little too scary for me, I was always delighted to tag along.

This woman’s name was Nancy Drew.  Yes, she was a fictional character, but she was also my friend. In a single summer, I read every one of the 56 original Nancy Drew books. That was the same summer that I became a Reader.

Leaping into Action

Feb 20, 2013
Callista Suarez – Southeast High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


When I was younger, someone told me a story. Once there were three frogs sitting on lily pads. One day, one of them made a decision to jump off. How many frogs were left? Three. I thought this story was really stupid and obnoxious at the time, but now I understand its true meaning. I believe in the power of doing. It sounds like a very simple concept, but it is much more powerful than most people realize. Like the story of the frogs, making a decision means nothing if nothing is done to act upon it.


Feb 19, 2013
Jacob Roth
Randy Eccles / WUIS

  “Wetsuits are the best clothes for picking up chicks!” asserted Ben, the awkward, lanky dive master. After some skeptical scoffs from the assembled scuba divers before him, he proceeded to explain: If you have a body worth showing off, leave the wetsuit unzipped. If not, get a sufficiently thick suit that covers things up nicely, zip it up, and you’ll be looking like a superhero.

Speak Up for What You Believe In

Feb 18, 2013
Natalie Knox
Randy Eccles / WUIS

  My mom, as a dermatologist, has taught me sun safety since I was small. I was that kid who smelled like sunscreen during elementary school recess and wore rashguard shirts to the pool. Although I didn’t always appreciate what she was doing to protect me, I knew she was right. It knew it would be worth it later in life when my skin was still beautiful and wrinkle-free. I believed wholeheartedly that protecting yourself from the dangers of overexposure to ultraviolet light was a worthwhile lifetime habit. My beliefs were put to the test last summer, when I made the decision to testify in front of the Springfield City Council.

I Am History

Feb 26, 2012
Joshua Cleaver - Southeast High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


I believe in History. Not the kind you read about in books, or learn in class, but pure History, no interpretations, just facts. You see, I am History; we are all History.  Each of us has a story to tell and the past is the key to the future.

Create Your Future

Feb 25, 2012
Mariah Pattie - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


Always an American

Feb 24, 2012
Amena Tayyab - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


I was born and raised in Springfield, IL and categorize myself as an American Muslim; always have, always will. Some, however, forget I have the same basic rights, memories and needs as every American. We have all experienced the aftermath of 9/11, but as an American Muslim living in a post 9/11 world, my experiences have differed greatly.


Feb 23, 2012
Travis Lascody - Lanphier High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


I believe that what you look like does not define who you are as a person, whether you have tattoos, piercings, or a crazy hairstyle. You should not be judged for how you look, but on what you do. The doctor that performs your next surgery could be covered in tattoos underneath his scrubs. My sophomore year of high school I decided to dread my hair, knowing that to many people it would be frowned upon.

Stroke Me a Key or Two

Feb 22, 2012
Terea Tran - Southeast High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


They say that what does not kill us makes us stronger.  I have learned this is true, but a keyboard and a passion for music certainly don’t hurt either.  Making music is what makes me feel entirely unique and special.  When I sit in front of a piano I no longer feel helpless.  Unlike the rest of my often-hectic life, I can dictate what happens and what is played.  I have found that music is the greatest way to release my emotions.  In the hardest period of my life I found great beauty.  I believe in music. I believe in what music can do for a soul.

The Trouble with "Troubled"

Feb 21, 2012
Olivia Rosen - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


"Wakaru" - To Understand

Feb 20, 2012
Maggie Cornelius - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


“We’re going to drive to the football game at nine tonight,” I said to Ayumi, explaining our plans for the evening.

She cocked her head and gave me a quizzical look.

I tried again. “At nine o’clock, we will drive to the football game.”

She shook her head. Wakarimasen. I don’t understand.

I paused, rephrasing the sentence in my mind. “Tonight, at nine o’clock, we will go to the football game.”

Wakarimasu! She understood. “Oh! Okay,” Ayumi said. “I am happy!”

Anything Boys Can Do

Feb 19, 2012
Mackenzie McDermott headshot
Randy Eccles / WUIS - Illinois Issues

THIS I BELIEVE - I was only five when I came home from kindergarten with an American Youth Football League flyer, begging my parents to sign me up. They didn’t hesitate. There were never “boy” things or “girl” things in my house. There were just things. This was how it worked in my family where my father was in the kitchen cooking while my mother was in the living room screaming at the football game. Plopping down next to my mom on the couch with my over-sized Packer’s jersey seemed like the most natural thing in the world.

Born This Way

Feb 18, 2012
Derinn Wallace - Glenwood High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues



Everyone is scared of something. Whether it is spiders, clowns, black holes, or something else, we all have a fear in life. One fear that many people share is a fear of homosexuality, or homophobia. Like many other fears, though, this fear can be conquered. All it takes to overcome homophobia is an open mind and a little education. That education starts here. This I believe: homosexuality is not a choice, and being gay does not change who a person is.

On the Death of My Father

Feb 17, 2012
Ally M Perko - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


"Breaking Barriers"

Feb 25, 2011
Molly Ducker - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

There are walls among us. Walls can protect us by surrounding or discourage us by dividing. There is a wall among us that not only discourages but also destroys human beings with the sole intention of division. This infamous wall runs through Texas, California, and Arizona along the Mexican border. I do not believe in this sort of division. I have been in the midst of discrimination at its worst and witnessed firsthand how beautiful it is when people come together. Therefore, I believe in walls to encompass people of every ethnicity, heritage, and culture; walls to bring outsiders in. 

True Love Takes Effort

Feb 24, 2011
Rachel Pasko - Southeast High School
WUIS/Illinois Issues

My grandmother was a fairy. One look at the wispy silver-grey hair that held various clips to make a crown would banish all doubts of this fact from her mythical domain. I remember listening to her vibrant stories while sitting in the over-grown and wild garden that was the back yard. She would throw her hands this way and that while changing the tone and tempo of the tale accordingly. Yes, she was certainly a fantastic creature who seemed to pop out from a child’s book.