Throughout the history of universities there has always been a figure that exemplifies school pride. At the University of Illinois, the Alma Mater is that defining figure. From the creation of the Alma Mater, she has established history and pride between the students and staff at the University of Illinois. To this day, the Alma Mater’s presence is everywhere from storefronts to postcards. No matter where you go on the University of Illinois campus, there is always something that shows the Alma Mater’s face with her arms stretching out. A simple motto made this all possible.
Through the University of Illinois’s motto, “Learning and Labor,” it has helped develop a system of value that continues to this day through a visual piece of art. We all know the Illinois Loyalty song by heart, or at least we should, but from that song our school motto, “Learning and Labor”, has stood out for one artist, Lorado Taft. His “gift”, the Alma Mater, was dedicated to the University of Illinois in honor of his fiftieth anniversary of his graduation in 1929, on Alumni day. A motto and a symbol that would haven unnoticed if the Alma Mater was never created.
From his ideas, Lorado Taft depicted the Alma Mater “as a majestic woman in scholastic robes, who arises from her throne and advances a step with outstretching arms,” Gesturing greeting “her” children; the Alma Mater shows pride to her students of the past, present, and future. While standing behind her two twin looking figures that are acting as “Learning and Labor,” shaking hands in creating a visual image of our motto. From this depiction, it has been imbedded in the mind of the past, present, and future generations as a defining factor in school pride and loyalty.
Ever since the Alma Mater has been built, it has brought the students of the University of Illinois great pride. From looking at a photo from 1948, students who are still eloquently dressed in graduation robes gather around the Alma Mater. Their eyes as they gaze at the Alma Mater, freeze time almost. They are happy. What are they happy for? Graduating or the fact that the Alma Mater has helped brings a class together. The look in their eyes looking like there is a much deeper meaning to about what the Alma Mater means to them that brings the student, around the Alma Mater together.
They saw a connection that brought them altogether through a journey of “Learning and Labor. ” From this welcoming, students knew that wherever their life took them, their Alma Mater would always be there for them. From this statue it not only created a welcoming to her students but “reaching out” to them when they came back into her arms. Even today, the Alma Mater shows pride when every year, graduates wait in long lines just to get one last and final picture of the Alma Mater as a student of the University before they set alumni status. Just like they did in 1948.
The students of present are still representing the Alma Mater to this day. Even from the start of this school year, the 2013 seniors are still proud of their Alma Mater. In an interview with Cara Mueller, a 2013 senior attending the University of Illinois took great pride in her Alma Mater. “To me the Alma Mater is a cool piece of history. I love being a part of something so much bigger than my time here at the University of Illinois. ” When asked if she had any prior knowledge to the Alma Matter she shared, “That my older brother went to the University of Illinois.
So every time we came to see him we would always walk past the Alma Mater. ” It’s a University landmark that cannot be missed while either touring or walking around campus. Continuing on with Cara’s interview she also stated that she often “took pictures in front of it, especially when it was dressed up for special events, like when the Illinois basketball team made it to the March Madness tournament, they dressed her in an oversized basketball outfit. ” But from Cara’s interview it also turned her upside down with the leaving of her Alma Mater.
Even the pride that students have shown to the Alma Mater goes way beyond a statue. In late August of 2012, the Alma Mater packed her bags for the year to get primed and prospered for the fallowing spring. Many students do not understand how someone could take the schools pride and joy away. However, it makes visitors of the university question why there is only a platform with nothing on top of it! With the Alma Mater gone it doesn’t mean it’s the end. To Cara Mueller, she “thinks it’s upsetting to see that she is gone. It’s like a part of the University of Illinois has been missing all year.
” From this Cara reflected on her being a senior, “ As a senior I felt like I got the shafted. ” Every year, like previously stated, many seniors wait in lines to take a final picture of them with the Alma Mater. As the year dwindles down to a close, Cara anxiously awaits the arrival of the Alma Mater; “It would be nice to get the traditional graduation pictures with my family next to the Alma Mater like many graduates do each year. ” Throughout the years of students coming and going, the Alma Mater is always going to be one steady symbol of school pride.
Even to this day students are always being welcomed by this well-know figure. From one motto, a statue can shape the ideas of how a university shapes its values. Imagine if the Alma Mater was never created? What would have taken her place, a dog or maybe a different statue? As the years go on, however, it could be possible that a bigger and better figure might emerge, but even when we may leave her sight we will always be reminded that she will always be waiting for us to return.
Courtney from Study Moose
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