WUIS' This I Believe

Starting as a five minute radio program hosted by Edward R. Murrow in 1951, TIB gave contributors the chance to write a short essay articulating what they believe. Since then the idea has been adopted by numerous radio programs including NPR and WUIS.

2016 marks the tenth class WUIS will ask to share what they believe!

Rotary Springfield Sunrise
Credit Rotary International

In 2007, the Rotary Club of Springfield, Sunrise partnered with WUIS to sponsor TIB. Each year the ten selected authors are given the chance to read their essays in front of the Rotary and are presented with a $100 award towards college tuition provided by the club. 

The State Journal-Register supports this effort by printing the selected essays in the Voice section

WUIS will air the essays in their authors’ voices the last two weeks of February at 7:45 AM, 12:45 PM, 4:45 PM, and 7:45 PM.  The audio will also be streamed here at WUIS.org.

This I Believe is WUIS' annual essay program for central Illinois high school seniors.  An expression of where their minds are as they prepare to enter the adult world.


Selected Authors









A Daily Realization

Feb 27, 2015
Maggie Lenkart headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

I recently stumbled upon a neat little web series entitled “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows” by John Koenig. Every short video consists of a newly invented word he explains in depth. One word in particular jumped out at me: sonder.  “sonder,” n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as yours. This feeling has always been something I have taken note of. As a little girl, strapped tight in my car seat, gazing out the window at the cars passing down the busiest street in town, I would think:  “Where are they going?

A Universal Language

Feb 26, 2015
Shelton Cottle headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

One sunny September afternoon, one of my friends and I were searching the farthest reaches of our brains for some activity to keep us occupied. We often played the guitar together, but since the fall weather was so unusually pleasant, we could not just sit in some dingy basement and play to the termites in the rafters. We decided to take our music to the great outdoors; specifically, our town square.

I Believe In The Piano

Feb 25, 2015
Jacob Pearson headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

The frost tapped on my window as I sat at the antique desk in my room on that icy winter afternoon. Eternal mounds of snow pressed its hands up against our front door, and it concealed me from the exploration I longed for. I could hear the bitterness of the air outside whispering to me, teasing me of the arctic temperatures that loomed about. I was concealed inside on this day, and with nothing to keep myself busy, my mind was just as frozen as the world around me. My pencils and artwork lay untouched as my creative gears wouldn’t thaw.

Unique Flavors

Feb 24, 2015
Kanisha Granderson headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

I believe in ice cream. Different flavors, different colors and smells. Some taste good and some not so good. The happiness you get when you find the flavor you like. The first bite and joy. I loved the flavor Jamoca. It was my favorite. Its coffee taste, brown color and smell - so deeply good. I wanted to try something new. I tried butter pecan. It was the new best. Its vanilla coating, walnuts on top and inside. I had switched. Like the click of a light switch but I wasn’t always so comfortable or confident about trying new things.

Travel And Learning Cultures Bring Us Closer

Feb 23, 2015
Tess Peterson Headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

I love to travel.  At 17, I have visited more than 40 states. I have been to Canada and Mexico, and this past summer I visited China.  One of the most exciting days of my life was the day I received my passport.

Pickled Hysteria

Feb 20, 2015
Brett Palmer headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

On a frigid January evening, I, along with other members of my church, decided to donate time to serving a hot meal to people planning to spend their night sleeping on a childlike cot in a warm, temperature controlled Salvation Army homeless shelter. I have no idea what to expect on a night like this. So many misperceptions of homeless people that had been drilled into my brain throughout my life were reappearing in my consciousness yet again. “Are they gonna take my money? Where are my keys?” Confused, nervous and skeptical, I begin to wonder why I’m here.

I Believe In Confusion

Feb 19, 2015
Larissa Mulch headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

People have often asked me why I’m not straight, and I like to tell them the following: When I was four years old I sneezed and no one said “bless you” and at that moment the devil entered my soul. Of course the journey to discovering my sexuality was not nearly so simple. It was, and still is more like the yellow brick road; long, winding, Judy Garland is probably involved somehow, and it’s been very, very confusing. I believe in confusion.

I Believe In Deadlines

Feb 18, 2015
Jillian Cole headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

Imagine everyone could live forever - never aging, never worrying about having time to do the things we envision because we have limitless years. However, such a life is impossible. Humans are not made to last. Though it seems terrible to be confined to only one hundred years, It’s a blessing. Having a deadline for life, and for many things in life, is beneficial to mankind, and to the individuals who live or have lived. If humans could live forever, I’m inclined to believe it wouldn’t be a good thing.

Size Matters

Feb 17, 2015
Kaytlin Jacoby
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

I have never been thin.  Since my earliest memory, “normal-size” clothing has not fit me.  I remember being seven, distressed that I had to shop the tired floral prints of the “husky” sizes.  I remember the day I was told that I was too big to wear two-piece swimsuits.  I remember that I stopped swimming entirely because no swim suit fit comfortably.  I remember wearing trendy clothes that were too tight in middle school because I wanted to wear the pretty outfits all the other girls wore.  I remember crying after a day of shopping because everything looked bad on me.  I remember averting

The Power Of Trying

Feb 16, 2015
Aron Suszko headshot
Rachel Lattimore / WUIS / Illinois Issues

I have always believed in something that few seem to grasp. Something that you wouldn’t expect. I believe in trying. Not success, not failure but simply trying. The power of trying does not make itself very apparent because there are too many people (myself included) that aren’t brave enough to step up to the challenge. When I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, I felt the world had dealt me a losing hand, and there was nothing that I could do. I slogged through life for the longest time, content that my fate of failure was sealed.

WUIS is looking forward to a new set of entries for this year’s WUIS “This I Believe” Essay Contest.  As in the past, ten winners – current area high school seniors - will be selected from among the entries.  The deadline for submissions is Thursday, January 29th, just a week away!  Ten winners will be welcomed here at the WUIS studios to read their essays for broadcast in February.  Each winner will also receive a a modest scholarship from the Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise.  Submissions at WUIS.org.

26 Letters

Feb 28, 2014
Amelia Paries headshot
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

From the moment we're born, we're bombarded with an endless array of words. Long, short, pretty, ugly—but all meaningless. Until we’re taught to read and write. But, even before then, we have to learn the alphabet. It's amazing, truly, how many ways those 26 little letters can be manipulated; the seemingly endless combinations that make up the language we know and take for granted. I love words. I love how they can take simple bedding and turn it into softly ruffled sheets, bathed in sleepy whispers and sweet dreams.

The Most Powerful Element

Feb 27, 2014
Kelsey Hubble headshot
Randy Eccles / WUIS

During my freshman year of high school, my circle of friends was fairly limited.  I had three friends who I associated with daily, and I was perfectly content with this.  In place of expanding my social standing and friend group, I spent a good number of my days walking home after school and doing nothing besides laying in my room listening to music.  This might sound lonely to some, but I was happy doing it, so I felt no need to change.  Music was and is one of the greatest companions I’ve had, and one of the best tools I feel people can use to connect with themselves, and even others.

I Believe in Snow Cones

Feb 26, 2014

I used to live right on the busiest street in the world. Maybe, I’m exaggerating a little bit, but it seemed pretty busy to me. Cars zoomed up and down the street, traveling around the world, and I wasn’t allowed to go past my block on my own, which now seems to be very logical, but at the time it seemed like the most ridiculous rule. On hot summer weeks when I was cooped up to my huge lawn and vast house, my sole escape was Snow Cone Tuesday.

The Sneetches

Feb 25, 2014
Gabrielle Gardner headshot
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

I believe that Sneetches are Sneetches. This probably sounds ridiculous to most people, but it is a belief that has greatly affected my outlook on life. In the children’s story “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss there is a very important lesson about people and their differences. In this story, there are Sneetches that live on the beach (or the beaches, as Dr. Seuss would say).  Some of these Sneetches were born with big stars on their bellies while others hadn’t anything on theirs.

Great Sacrifices Give Great Rewards

Feb 24, 2014
Pauline Kersjes - Springfield HS
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

    It is July 31st. I am standing in an airport far away from here. I turn around for the last time and see my parents and three sisters waving goodbye with tears running down their faces. I have not cried a single tear today. I think the tears are all gone. I cried enough yesterday. I am way too excited to cry anyway. Today it is finally going to happen. I have been waiting for this moment for almost two years. I believe that this year is going to be worth it.

I Believe in Dirt

Feb 21, 2014
Abagail Perrero headshot
Randy Eccles / WUIS

I believe in Saturday mornings with my mother. Waking up in the morning, the sun just barely peeking in through my curtains. Struggling into last night’s jeans, eyes still glued shut with sleep. Bad TV dramas while both of us avoid our homework in the winter, but in the summer we skip breakfast and take bumpy car rides. We walk hand in hand past a pockmarked brick road and a green bar door, down and over one block from a parking meter left unpaid. A skip over the train tracks and we are at the Farmers’ Market. A right turn for home-made bread rolls and our favorite salad guys.

Gay Forever, Hell For Never

Feb 20, 2014
Gabe Knott headshot
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

You’re going to hell. Yes, you, the young male wearing the loud shirt, scarf, and skinny jeans. Yes, you, the student tutor with a 3.8 GPA, who aspires to have a family, who has goals for your life and a career in mind and who was baptized in a Southern Baptist church; none of that matters when the TRUTH is that you aren’t natural and neither are your actions.

Out of the ten student authors selected for the 2014 This I Believe program, five attend Southeast High School in Springfield. Congrats to them and all the authors!

Independence Creates Happiness

Feb 19, 2014
Stepanie Dunn headshot
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

In middle school I asked  myself a lot of questions. Why do I have multiple teachers? Why is my body changing so much? Why do I feel attraction to all these boys? One thing I thought I knew was love; I loved my family so I completely understood what love was and what it took to love someone for life, right? In eighth grade I started “dating” Joe. It was the stereotypical boyfriend/girlfriend, middle school relationship. Our parents drove us to and from our houses watching movies, playing video games, and going to the park to kick a soccer ball around.

The Real Me

Feb 18, 2014
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

I don’t choose to wear makeup. Some people may look at me with disdain, and others wonder why I opt out of such a common practice. I see girls around me with perfect faces, unable to tell that they are covered with the cloudy foundation, and with their eyes painted just right so that I find it easy to look and hard to look away. But I myself find no yearning to be “beautiful,” or to look “flawless” simply so that others may be more visually attracted to me.

WUIS' This I Believe partner, The State Journal-Register, printed the first week's essays in the Tuesday Voice section.

A Squirrely Story

Feb 17, 2014
Mason Lott
Randy Eccles / WUIS

It was a beautiful summer day.  The sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and I was flying down Glenarm Road at speeds upward of 20 MPH.  The grass was high that day, providing an attractive view, and I was enjoying the ride with the rest of my cycling group who rode just a few paces ahead.

We were forty-five miles into our weekend ride, when I heard a small rustle in the tall grass. Moments later, I saw a ball headed right towards me.  The next thing I know, the “ball” was lodged in between my front tire and the frame of my bike.  

Pickle Dog

Feb 27, 2013
Kristen Koch - Jacksonville High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


As a child, I would always wait with excitement by the door, counting down the minutes for my parents to come home from work. Now that I am in high school, I often fail to greet my parents with anything other than a “what’s for dinner?”

Sharing Meals

Feb 26, 2013
Elaina Conley-Keck - Springfield High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


Renay DeFrees - Lanphier High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


Scared.  Utterly terrified.  That is the only way I can describe how I felt when I was told my father was going to die. I was eight years old when my father was diagnosed with cancer. That was November 18th, 2002. A few weeks passed and everyone held their breath. On December 16th we were told the cancer was terminal. The carcinoma had metastasized and had already spread throughout his whole body. The doctors did not expect him to make it through the week. “It is time to say goodbye”, they said.


Feb 24, 2013
Samantha Comerford - Rochester High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


I believe in kindness. The small act of holding the door, or smiling as someone passes. Everyday on the news I hear of an arguing government, a suffering economy, and a war overseas. It is hard to keep a kind spirit when it seems that anger surrounds us. In times like these, I believe that kindness is more important than ever.

Being the Little Big Brother

Feb 23, 2013
Aaron Vasquez
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues


 The strength and willingness to accept those with autism may seem to be a daunting task at times, but many people overlook the strength the few individuals that are diagnosed with autism actually possess.


Feb 22, 2013
Vlada Gudzenko
WUIS/Illinois Issues


The Girl Detective and Me

Feb 21, 2013
Elisabeth Dunn – Sangamon Valley High School
Randy Eccles / WUIS/Illinois Issues

At the age of eight, I was introduced to the young woman who would change my life.  The more I learned about her, the more I admired her. We went on adventures together, and though some were a little too scary for me, I was always delighted to tag along.

This woman’s name was Nancy Drew.  Yes, she was a fictional character, but she was also my friend. In a single summer, I read every one of the 56 original Nancy Drew books. That was the same summer that I became a Reader.