April 9, 2021 at 1:45pm
Kendall Trump '13

Millikin first-year student reflects on why she stayed close to home

When deciding between Millikin University and other college options, current freshman Holli Couri '24 knew that the smaller classes and family-like atmosphere made Millikin the right fit for her. Growing up in Decatur, Ill., Couri thrived in tight-knit communities, graduating from St. Teresa high school (Decatur) in spring 2020 among a class of approximately 60 students.

"Millikin is more like a family than bigger schools," Couri said when asked about what most appealed to her about Millikin. "The professors here know my first and last name. I know them all and they offer help after class." 

Another area of Millikin University that appealed to Couri was the abundance of subjects that she had the freedom to explore. Though she is currently undecided on her major, Couri is taking a wide sampling of classes across different areas of study in addition to completing her general education courses. 

"Last semester I took a juvenile delinquency course taught by Professor (Keyria) Rodgers, and I liked that class," said Couri. "Maybe I will want to go into criminal justice." 

In addition to the Criminal Justice major, which Millikin began offering in 2017, Couri has also expressed interest in pursuing Cybersecurity, a major Millikin introduced through the Tabor School of Business in fall 2020.

Couri recalled her final semester of high school and her first semester of college were vastly different from what she had envisioned due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. "A lot of things changed very quickly. I was in a music class where we went from playing the piano every day to writing music and lyrics at home." 

Holli Couri Millikin University

Despite the cancellation of in-person classes, sports, and her graduation ceremony, Couri says that her graduating class found ways to stay close while physically apart and celebrate the end of their senior year. "We had a senior show-up day instead of a senior skip day, and we ended up having a delayed graduation ceremony in August."

During her first semester at Millikin, Couri was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed and was able to interact with her virtual classes. "Having a professor that can make a Zoom class interesting and engaging makes a difference," she said about her juvenile delinquency class with Professor Keyria Rodgers. 

Though she had a positive experience with Millikin's virtual classes in fall 2020, Couri says her favorite experience at Millikin by far has been returning to campus. "Being able to walk around campus and going to class with friends from high school has been great."

During high school, Couri was involved in several volunteer organizations giving back to central Illinois. She volunteered with the Heart of Illinois Down Syndrome Association in Morton, Ill., and through school-organized Lend-a-Hand Days during which St. Teresa students take a day off classes to help members of the Decatur community in need.

When she's not attending classes on campus, Couri keeps busy with an off-campus job at a business owned and operated by her family, LaGondola Spaghetti House, a Decatur-favorite home-style Italian restaurant with two locations.