Brianna Undzis, class of 2020

My experiences at the University of Illinois have shaped me more than I ever could have anticipated. I have gained ownership of my education and lifestyle,and that helps me to see my goals more clearly. I have learned lessons and have had opportunities that will take a lifetime to unpack. My roots in the University of Illinois give me the necessary stability to go out into the world and have a positive impact.

I grew up in Littleton, Colorado, so the mountains area very important aspect of my life. I spent as much time as I could outside hiking, camping, and walking in different parts of the state. I began competitive dance when I was twelve and have not stopped dancing since. My weekdays were spent in school while my week nights were spent dancing for hours on end. This practice of balance in body and mind has become a lifestyle that I continue to honor. In high school, I was a part of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program and received my IB diploma. I joined the program to challenge myself to learn new ideas from a global or international perspective—I wanted an education that reaches beyond the borders of the US.

Though the geography of Illinois is quite different, I am happy I chose to attend the University of Illinois as a physics and dance major. Illinois Physics and Dance at Illinois have become my Midwest homes that ground me to this new environment while encouraging me to pursue my dreams. Through Dance at Illinois, I’ve worked with artists who are reshaping the dance world as we know it and I’ve participated in numerous dance performances, such as November Dance at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. At the same time, Illinois Physics has enabled me to develop a vast network of fellow aspiring physicists who simply want to know how and why everything works. The wisdom of my professors in both majors has expanded my perspective and encouraged me to constantly question.The more I learn, the more I am aware of how much I don’t know and want to learn more.

After I graduate, I plan to pursue a PhD in physics so I can continue this cycle and gain more insight about physics. I’m not sure which research areaI want to go into at this moment,but I am considering theoretical astrophysics, atmosphere and space physics, and particles and fields.I will applyto various schools,but my ideal school is the University of Colorado Boulder. While I’m in graduate school, I will continue dancing and will seek out local companies to work with and perform for. I would love to work in a lab doing research that pertains to both Earth systems and physics because these are two of my biggest passions.