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College students sit on bleachers smiling
The College of Applied Health Sciences Class of 2027 listens to Dean Cheryl Hanley-Maxwell during the AHS Student Welcome on Friday, Aug. 18, 2023.

Welcome to AHS: Meet the Class of 2027

Welcome Week at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign capped off with individual college celebrations scattered across campus.

The College of Applied Health Sciences brought first-year students to Huff Hall for a spirited welcome and resource-sharing session. A few members of the newest freshman class offered their thoughts on why they chose AHS and what they're looking forward to in the new academic year. 

Mustafa Siddique

Mustafa Siddique, hailing from Naperville, Ill., had a lot of fun with the “festive” atmosphere of University of Illinois Welcome Week, where it felt like everyone was there to lend a helping hand. 

Mustafa is studying interdisciplinary health sciences on the pre-medical school track. The College of Applied Health Sciences won out in his school choice for its real-world usefulness.  

“It kind of gives you a perspective into the specific field that you're going into instead of just science as a whole. So I thought AHS was a good choice,” he said.  

Arely Soto

Arely Soto, from Aurora, Ill., was exposed to a wide range of therapists through her mother, who’s a social worker. After speaking with a speech pathologist and learning about her career, Arely decided speech and hearing science was the path she wanted to follow. 

Experiencing Illinois Sights and Sounds, the capstone Welcome Week event that teaches new students Illinois traditions, was an early highlight for her. Especially taking a huge picture with her class packed into a "Block I" on the Memorial Stadium field. 

“I’m really excited for RSOs to start, to get involved and see what the schools offer in general.”

Dallas Miles

Dallas Miles, from South Holland in the Chicago suburbs, said his family always encouraged him to do something in the health field. 

“I’m glad I’m here now,” said Miles, who’ll be studying interdisciplinary health sciences in his freshman year. After Welcome Week, he’s got plenty of Illini merchandise—shirts and stickers galore. 

Dallas' vision for his career vision orbits around health technology, “making stuff like hearing aids and heart monitors” to help patients day-to-day, he said. 

Allison Pines

Allison Pines is from Highlands Ranch, Colo., but she’s a “religious Cubs fan” through and through. In fact, she declared for recreation sport and tourism with a concentration in sports management in the hopes of becoming an analyst for a Major League Baseball team. 

“I was really impressed with the prestige that the concentration in sports management held, it’s something that I’ve been dreaming of for a very long time. The fact that I found a prestigious program at a school I’m passionate about drove me to Applied Health Sciences,” she said. 

“Sports management is my declared major but I may get involved in kinesiology or other opportunities this college has to offer.” 

Mihir Patel and Sam Rausenberger

Illinois freshmen Sam Rausenberger from Carterville and Mihir Patel from Vandalia share an interest in the human body and how it works. Majoring in kinesiology at AHS seemed an easy choice for both of them. 

“I like sports and fitness and I like helping people,” Patel said. “Physical therapy spoke to me, basically, I feel like that’s something I can do.” 

Both freshmen are interested in the physical therapy path, specifically in the world of athletics. 

“I took a health class my freshman year which was required and I loved learning about the skeleton and muscles and all the movement,” Rausenberger said. “I didn’t take another class like that until anatomy in my senior year, we did the bones and learned in-depth how muscles move and how they work. I was super interested in that and knew this is what I want to do.”

After putting their names in for student organizations at the AHS Student Welcome—and in Patel's case, catching a prized Illini shirt thrown into the crowd at Sights and Sounds—both are excited to explore the U. of I.’s opportunities. 

“I'm definitely looking forward to getting to know more people and knowing the campus, what I've seen so far. It's a beautiful campus. I just don't know my way around yet,” Rausenberger said. 

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