When it came time for Jill Villasana to choose a college, the decision was a no-brainer, she says.
Villasana grew up in Columbia, the daughter of die-hard MU football fans. “My parents had season tickets since before I was born,” she said. Her mother and aunt are both MU alumna. Her family always took part in Homecoming celebrations, which gave her a taste of Greektown traditions years before she would become a Delta Gamma sorority member.
To top it off, she planned to major in journalism, for which MU is well known. “It seemed really silly to go anywhere else — it’s such a good school, and I could get in-state tuition,” she said.
From the start, she knew she wanted to be involved on campus and jumped right into various residence hall and sorority activities. She was a residence hall community adviser for two years and a Summer Welcome leader for one year.
“Those were amazing ways that I met people those first two or three years,” she said. “I walk around Columbia now and still see some of the kids who had me for a CA or Summer Welcome leader. I have that connection with them, and it’s really cool.”
Although her academic plans changed halfway through college — she said she found the hard-news focus of her journalism classes “maddening” and switched to education the following semester — Villasana’s involvement on campus and opportunities for meeting people were a constant during her time at MU.
Villasana urges incoming freshmen to take advantage of the diverse opportunities MU has to offer. “If you think it sounds interesting, try it. Go for it and see what happens.”
Looking back, Villasana said taking risks to get involved made the most of her time as an undergraduate and the goals she went after and accomplished are the ones she most remembers.
Now, she’s set a new goal — to earn her master’s degree in secondary social studies curriculum and instruction — and finds herself once again preparing to be an MU student. She is able to return to school after receiving a James Madison Foundation Fellowship.