Welcome to my new blog WIU alumni and friends! My name is Shani Belshaw and I am excited to be able to keep you in touch with all that is going on here at WIU. I know we have an exciting semester ahead of us. First, let me introduce myself to you. I am a broadcasting and journalism double major with a focus in public relations, so writing is right up my alley. I’m very honored to be the new WIU Alumni Associations student blogger. This internship is my first step into the “real world” which I hope will lead me to a position in a Public Relations firm. Before we go any further, let me tell you a little more about me!
I grew up on a farm ten minutes outside of Carthage, Illinois. I say Illinois because whenever I tell Western students I’m from Carthage, they think Carthage, Wisconsin, even though Carthage, Illinois is only thirty minutes from Macomb. My family farms corn and beans there. When I was younger, we had horses on our farm, about thirty of them!
I’m definitely a girly girl; I love dance, crafting, pageants, and doing makeup, but by growing up on a farm, there’s a little tomboy in me as well. I love the outdoors! Four wheeling, fishing, biking, and boating are some of my favorite pastimes. I have my Missouri boating license because my family and I spend most of our summer at the Lake of the Ozarks. My aunt has a house on the lake and we keep our jet skis there. However, this summer, I did not spend much time with my family in the Ozarks because I was working and taking classes here in Macomb. The town was a little quiet over the summer; I was definitely thankful when all the students came back. WIU students make up about one third of the population of Macomb, so when we all return, it really makes the town come alive again.
Prior to Western, I went to Illini West High School, which is a consolidated school consisting of students from three different towns: LaHarpe, Dallas City, and my hometown, Carthage. The towns only consolidate at the high school level, so freshman year takes a little getting used to for many students. Your fellow classmates who were your rivals in sports while growing up become your high school teammates. I guess it worked for us though because we won the state football championship both my freshman and junior years of high school. It was an amazing experience, particularly because I was the marching band’s baton twirler; I got to twirl at the state game. My nickname in high school was “baton chick” and yes I can twirl fire!
It may sound strange, but I didn’t want to go to Western, at first, because I’ve been close to and have visited Macomb my whole life. I’m practically a “Macombie Homie,” a nickname WIU students use to describe Macomb natives who attend Western. Although Carthage is thirty minutes from Macomb, a majority of my time was spent here because in my small town, we don’t have a movie theater, Wal-Mart, or McDonald’s. So after I graduated from high school, I enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago, but I transferred to WIU after only one semester there. I loved the city, but UIC was not for me. Looking back, I am extremely glad I ended up at WIU. There is a much better sense of community on campus and joining a sorority (Phi Sigma Sigma) has helped me meet many new people. I love it here! I’m getting as much involvement on campus as I can right now before I graduate in December of 2015. Last semester I was a DJ for 88.3–The Dog (WIU’s radio station), a member of National Broadcasting Society (NBS), an officer of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), and on e-council for my sorority (Phi Sigma Sigma). As I mentioned earlier, I’m hoping that all my campus experience, including this internship, will help me land a job working at a large PR firm. It would be a dream come true to live in California and to travel doing PR internationally. Now that you know me a little better, feel free to follow and interact with my blog this semester. I’ll keep you updated on all that is going on at WIU!