Horton and Marching Illini making the best of a difficult year

Student poses for photo in Marching Illini uniform on the turf of Memorial StadiumMelissa Horton is a senior in LAS, studying molecular and cellular biology with a minor in psychology. Horton is also a part of the Marching Illini and will have the opportunity to perform live at the Altgeld Chimes Centennial Concert on Oct. 30.

The College of LAS recently caught up with her to learn more about her experience at Illinois.

Tell me about your experience with the Marching Illini. How many years have you been involved? What have been a few personal highlights of your time with the Marching Illini?

This is my fourth year in the Marching Illini. The Marching Illini has been near and dear to me these past four years. Some of my favorite memories include traveling to Ireland for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, supporting our football team in San Francisco for the Redbox Bowl, and the two road trips we took to OSU and MSU. These were all incredible experiences and the memories will stay with me forever.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this semester has been unique and challenging for students. What are some of the specific ways that the Marching Illini has been impacted and disrupted by COVID?

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost everything the Marching Illini typically does. Due to the pandemic and its restrictions we are unable to meet face-to-face for practice like we used to every day. As a result, the Marching Illini is meeting over zoom to learn marching fundamentals, music, and the history and traditions of the Marching Illini. Unfortunately we are unable to participate in many of the activities that we usually do, such as parading down the streets of campus and performing at football games. Of course, we are making the best of this situation, but Marching Illini has been impacted a great deal by not being able to support our team, and not being able to meet face-to-face for practices.

With so many other events being cancelled or postponed, what does it mean to you that you’ll be able to perform live with your peers at the Altgeld Hall Chimes 100th Anniversary later this month?

Being able to perform live with my peers for the Altgeld Hall Chimes 100th Anniversary means a great deal to me. Being a senior and not being able to perform with the Marching Illini in my last year here has been incredibly sad, but the fact that I will get to perform with this group at least once this year at this event is enough to shed a little bit of light on this semester. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to perform live at this event.

I understand that you’ll be performing at 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30th, approximately 100 years from the date and time of the first Altgeld chimes performance. How cool is it that?

I am honored to be a part of such a historical moment on our campus. Performing with the Marching Illini 100 years from the date and time of the first Altgeld chimes performance will be an incredible experience.

What are your career and personal aspirations after college? How has the Marching Illini and LAS community helped prepare you for your future? 

After my undergraduate years here at the University of Illinois, I am hoping to go to PA school and eventually become a Physician’s Assistant. The Marching Illini has taught me leadership and teamwork skills that nothing else could have in the same way. The experiences I have had with the Marching Illini have taught me so much and have made me who I am today. The same can be said about the LAS community. Without my peers, professors, and advisors to help me through my college years, I would not have developed the skills and knowledge I have today.

For more information about about the Altgeld Chimes Centennial Concert, including how to watch a livestream of the performance, visit here.

Blog Source

Melissa Horton/Paul Elliott