Carl Becker graduated from the University of Illinois
Urbana-Champaign way back in 1958. The 1958 Illio shows the senior, his flat-top
nicely held up with some sort of cream or possibly butch wax. The yearbook
shows a young man who had recently graduated with a degree in Vocational
Agriculture and was ready to embark on his future career.
Carl Becker is from my hometown.
That is about the only similarity between us, though, as Carl seemed to embrace the farming culture of our area. He came to the university with a goal in mind, a niche already made. He became active from the very beginnings of his college career, whereas I had to attempt to first find my niche, and then settle into it.
As a freshman, Becker joined Alpha Gamma Rho, an agricultural fraternity. He joined the agricultural education club, the hoof and horn club, and the junior interfraternity council. I, on the other hand, was overwhelmed by the university’s opportunities and the work that goes into accessing those opportunities. I was able to do a few things through my dormitory, but spent much of my time exploring the campus itself, websites, and, well, who I was. My freshman year was a time of reflection and discovery, all at once. Unfortunately, I was not able to come into the university with a focus, as Becker was able to do. Becker became involved with the agricultural council in his junior and senior years, being elected president during his senior year of college.
What I find interesting is that his son, Kris, was my roommate this past summer and after reading about Carl, I see a lot of similarities between Carl’s college experience and Kris’s college experience. Kris had been very involved, but has also known what he has wanted to do all along. He is a pianist and has been involved with musical events during his four years here. For me, I did not have that type of deep-rooted interest in anything and had to first decide “What do I enjoy?” before I could pursue it.
I think that this project has taught me not just about Carl, but about the university’s past. I found it really interesting to look through the old Illios and seeing those that the alma mater speaks of when she says “…The children of the past welcome you.” I now have some, not many, faces and stories to put to those “children of the past.”
Carl is now a successful horse-breeder and legendary horse race announcer residing in my hometown. I am still struggling through college.