Humans of Parkland: Sarah Meilike

Photo by Emma Gray

Photo by Emma Gray

Emma Gray


“I went to Parkland when I was a student,” said Sarah Meilike, technical assistant at the Parkland Library. “I was here for three years and then I went to the [University of Illinois] and got my bachelor’s degree in English. […] My parents both work here which is kind of fun. They let me know about the opening in the library.”

Along with her duties in the library Meilike is part of the Parkland’s own version of American Association of Women in Community Colleges,

“It’s something my mom has long been involved with, so when I started at Parkland I was excited to join the organization myself. Its main focus was on supporting women in community colleges, and we held several events every year to raise money for scholarships or local women’s charities. This past year we decided to transition from the national organization into our own affinity group at Parkland, which we call ParklandGives365,” she said.

“[Its] focus is on community service, support, and solidarity and we’re more inclusive, welcoming anybody who wants to be involved. Our first project this year has been a school supply drive for the Adult Education Department and the Child Development Center at Parkland,” she said.”

“Of course we also like to have fun,” she said. “Some of the fundraising events we particularly enjoy include The Amazing Race—a
scavenger hunt style race around town—and trivia nights.”

Meilike says it makes sense she ended up in a library considering she grew up in libraries, even working at one in high school.

“I just really like being in a library,” she said. “It wasn’t a conscious decision to go looking for a library job, but it feels right now that I’m here.”

Most of Meilike’s job is ordering books, keeping accounts for the library, and other related tasks, but she says that her favorite parts are the times when she gets to make something. Recently she helped with the Harry Potter display.

“I like that there are other opportunities that come up that allow me to do some of the more creative things like put together a display for the activities fair…or there’s a secret publication in the [library] bathroom[s] on the back of the stall doors, that [is] kind of like a library newsletter. We call it the Toilet Paper. And I get to write that, which is by far my favorite part of any job I’ve ever had.”

Outside of Parkland, Meilike has been working on her childhood dream of practicing gymnastics at a local gym called Champaign Gymnastics Academy.

“I try to do gymnastics when I can. It’s something I always wanted to do and just never had a chance or opportunity to do it until I was about 26,” she said. “…There’s a place here in town that has adult gymnastics so I started going there and I loved it. They’re kind of another family.”

She greatly enjoys watching the Olympic Games and its gymnastics competitions. She specifically remembers Kerri Strug, a competitor for the American team in the 1996 games in Atlanta, whom managed to win a gold medal by performing the vault even after injuring her ankle in a previous attempt.

“I just always loved watching gymnastics when I was a kid. Watching the Olympics was super exciting for me and I remember watching live when Kerri Strug was in the Olympics,” she said. “She did this incredible vault and then she landed and, like, broke her ankle…and then she had to do it again and she just did because she was awesome. Then, she won the gold…To a kid that was just incredible,” Meilike said. 

For the past year Meilike has been working on learning to do a move called a kip.

“The most exciting thing for me was learning how to do a kip, which is…a way of getting up onto the bars using momentum. It’s really difficult to learn, but it’s one of those things that once you get it you can pretty much do anything. So I spent about a year working on that almost exclusively,” she said.

Meilike says that besides being fun, gymnastics has also taught her a lot about life. 

“It’s crazy,” she said. “You would think I would have learned way earlier in life that practice is what makes you good at something and that you’re going to fail a whole bunch of times before you become good at it, but gymnastics is what really kind of drove that home for me.”