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Q&A: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Memorial Stadium. Home of Fighting Illini football and over 62,000 fans. Photo by Stacey Talarovich.

Jayson Bulaon is a May 2009 graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. When he was younger he aspired to be a doctor but changed his mind in high school when he decided he would make a talented engineer. From there he spent his last four years at U of I earning the degree that landed him a job at a private engineering company that deals with the country’s defense.

When you were younger were you one of those kids who grew up knowing where you wanted to go to college? If so, where did you want to go?
No. Well, I always knew I would be going to college but I never did any research as to where until around sophomore year of high school. Plus, I was a bit conflicted because at that point, I wanted to either work with airplanes or be a doctor.

A small part of the main campus quandrangle at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The quad is 230 feet wide and 940 feet long according to the University's website. Photo by Katie Pitrowski.

How many schools did you apply to when the time came?
Four I think. I don’t remember exactly how many. All I know is that I filled out a bunch of forms and drafted different kinds of “Why are you the best candidate for our school?” essays.

Was anyone helping you pick a school or directing you a certain way or did you ultimately make the decision by yourself?
Well there was a career advisor in high school but he kept steering me towards nursing and the medical field, in general. Maybe it’s because I’m Asian. Anyway, in the end I picked the school after weighing all of the pros and cons of the ones I got into. Plus, finally deciding that I wanted to become an engineer had a major role in my choice.

What was your original major?
Aerospace Engineering

Did it ever change?
No, I liked it. It was an interesting major and something I always saw myself to be good at.

The Marching Illini at the 2009 Arch Rivalry football game against the University of Missouri. Since the game was reinstated in 2007, the Illini have been 0-3 againt the Missouri Tigers on the field.

What was so special about UIUC that made you want to go there?

  • Several things made my want to go to U of I. The first is its distance away from home. After high school graduation I wanted to get away from home, but not enough to go to another state. Being one and a half hours away from where my friends and parents live, UIUC seemed like a good choice. It was also cheaper since I am an Illinois resident and it’s an in-state university.
  • Secondly, it was ranked pretty high compared to other schools offering the same major. It was number four in Aerospace Engineering at the time I joined.
  • Third, I heard a lot of good things about the campus: Parties, the women, classes and the independent feeling it provides being away from home.
  • Finally, and probably the worst reason to choose the university to go to, is because my girlfriend at the time was going to go there. You have to realize that college applications had to be submitted late junior year/early senior year and at that time, I didn’t want to split with my girlfriend.

In your opinion, what is the best thing about the campus and why?
The environment. I’m not talking about the trees, the buildings, and the like; I’m talking about what the campus makes you feel just being on its grounds. It didn’t matter if I was just sitting in my apartment, at a bar or sitting at Starbucks people-watching. At every minute of the day you feel like you are doing something. In other words, it gives you a sense that you belong. The university has such a great atmosphere; you’ll never get bored because it feels like you’re in one massive party. It may be a little tough to comprehend but I think anyone who goes away for school would know what I’m talking about.

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