Interview with Kris Walton, Class of 2015


Kris Walton



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Oral history interview with Illinois State University alum Kris Walton, Class of 2015. The interview was conducted on March 6, 2024 by Kyle Schick and Keirsten Wells, then students in Dr. Reecia Orzeck’s class Geography 375: Qualitative Research Design and Methods of Human Geography.

Walton recalls he initially had no desire to pursue higher education but had to apply to three institutions to meet high school graduation requirements. ISU's on-campus admissions event, particularly a conversation with a Black male representative, positively influenced him by making college seem more realistic and valuable. The prospect of gaining independence and becoming his own man also motivated his decision to attend ISU.

Initially enrolled in sociology due to an interest in human interactions, Walton switched to geography after discovering a fascination with how people interact with their physical environments. He credits Drs. Matt Himley and RJ Rowley with guiding him towards graduate school. His research on food insecurity, supported by GIS skills learned at ISU, led him to his current career.

Walton fondly remembers ISU for the independence it offered and the friendships he formed, comparing it to an anime narrative where friends support each other in navigating life. His participation in the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity taught him valuable skills in time management, teamwork, and navigating organizational politics.

In addition to his classes and extracurriculars, Walton also worked multiple jobs while a student at ISU, including as a student manager at Linkins Dining Center and at Potbelly Sandwich Shop on Main Street in Normal. These experiences provided him with lifelong friends, honed his project management skills, and taught him the importance of multitasking and time management.

Walton's favorite class was GIS (Geographic Information Systems), taught by Dr. Rowley, for its practicality and its role in shaping his career. He highly recommends the Japan study abroad program, citing it as one of the top three experiences of his life and emphasizing the importance of cultural respect and engagement. He also recounts his involvement in community service activities with Kappa Alpha Psi, including coat drives and turkey giveaways, emphasizing the importance of lifelong commitment to service.

Walton describes his social activities outside of class, including playing video games and hosting watch parties with friends at Cardinal Court and traveling to visit his girlfriend and friends at other universities. When asked about his favorite places to study, Walton recalls using the quiet areas on the fifth floor of Milner Library and the Atrium Lounge in the Bone Student Center, which has since been replaced by Timbers Grille.

He credits his professors at ISU, particular Dr. Himley, with guiding him towards graduate school and his current career in community revitalization planning. He explains his role in using GIS technology for housing stock surveys and community mapping projects, highlighting the practical application of skills learned at ISU.

Reflecting on his time at ISU, Walton emphasizes the importance of building relationships with professors and making the most of college experiences. He encourages current students to appreciate their time in college and advises graduates to navigate post-graduate challenges with resilience and determination.

Interview Date



  • Introduction; Walton’s decision to attend ISU: 00:00-04:09
  • Choosing geography as a major: 04:09-06:38
  • Career plans; influence of Drs. Himley and Rowley: 06:38-08:40
  • First impressions of ISU: 08:40-09:11
  • Involvement with Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity: 09:11-11:46; 23:32-24:39
  • Work experiences while an ISU student: 11:46-14:09; 16:30-21:20
  • GIS class: 14:09-16:01
  • Study abroad to Japan: 16:01-16:30
  • Post-graduation depression: 21:20-23:32
  • Changes to Bloomington-Normal since 2015: 24:39-27:02
  • Playing video games and watching anime with friends: 27:02-29:27
  • Favorite places to study: 29:27-32:20
  • Current position with Illinois Housing Development Authority: 32:20-34:49
  • Impact of ISU experiences on current life: 34:49-38:39
  • Making the transition to graduate school: 38:39-41:23
  • Regrets about ISU experience: 41:23-42:44
  • Access to resources while an ISU student; Bowling and Billiards Center renovations: 42:44-45:26
  • Friendships made while an ISU student: 45:26-46:48
  • Advice to current students; conclusion: 46:48-51:07

Interview with Kris Walton, Class of 2015