I met CULLEN HESTERBERG ’12 at our first Rising Star Banquet that recognized first-year students who show leadership potential (see the entire list of honorees). The 44 students were selected from EHS 120 classes, a course that nearly all freshmen and transfer students take; it introduces them to the community and the University. The dinner on January 23 was a wonderful event, an opportunity to hand out Outstanding First-Year Student Awards. I am so glad that the Alumni Association and the Center for Student Development and Health Services created and sponsored the evening. It is the beginning of a new Bradley tradition.
Cullen was one of the freshmen honored, and I thought you’d want to know his story because it really exemplifies the Bradley Experience. Cullen grew up outside Ogden, a small town just east of Champaign-Urbana. Planning to study engineering, he always thought he’d attend that blue and orange state university nearby. As valedictorian of his high school, he had many good choices.
CULLEN HESTERBERG ’12
But the University of Illinois was, in his words, too large and impersonal. He wanted something smaller, a college with a family atmosphere where he would develop strong ties with faculty, staff and students. He found all that and more on the Hilltop.
In his first days on campus — before classes started — he and some buddies were enjoying Taste of Bradley, a great outdoor picnic that introduces our students to dining options in the community. On that warm summer afternoon, “two good-looking cheerleaders” grabbed his arm and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. They were looking for cheerleading candidates to fill out the squad, and Cullen looked like the type. In high school, he played football and baseball but had never cheered.
While apprehensive at first, Cullen told me he couldn’t turn the girls down. Now he says he is looking forward to cheerleading for three more years and more basketball games. “The squad just clicked with me. I instantly had 15 or 16 friends before classes even started. They are a great group and my closest friends.”
The chance meeting on the Quad led Cullen to join Delta Upsilon and get deeply involved in campus life. Now he says coming to Bradley was the best choice he’s ever made. “I feel it was meant to be,” he says.
Cullen is just one story, but there are many, many more on our campus. Our own RAY LAHOOD ’71 continues his distinguished career in public service. He served us with distinction in the U.S. Congress for 14 years, and in December was nominated as U.S. secretary of transportation by President Obama. Ray has been a great friend to his alma mater; he was named Bradley’s Distinguished Alumnus of 2008. We highlight Secretary LaHood in this issue, along with his successor, AARON SCHOCK ’02, and his predecessor, ROBERT MICHEL ’48 HON ’81. Congratulations to all.
We are continuing to teach and nurture another generation of engineers, businesswomen, teachers, community leaders and, yes, cheerleaders. I am so proud of the education we provide and the guidance and mentoring we give our students. And I am so excited about our future and humbled to have a small part in the coming successes.
The University — your university — continues to do wonderful work every day for our students. This edition of Bradley Hilltopics tells some of those stories — about students past and present. I hope you enjoy reading it.
Thank you for the honor and privilege of serving as your president. Go Braves.
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