As you can see on my blog, Northern Illinois University has afforded me a wealth of opportunities from research, to study abroad, to ultimately allowing me to pursue my passion in any and every avenue. This year I am excited to give back to a university that has given so much to be by representing my college, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, as a Northern Lights Ambassador. Using my own experiences at NIU, I hope to build relationships with alumni, students, and the community to afford future students the same opportunities I had. I am especially looking forward to serving as the chair of the Engaged Learning Committee; with a team of fellow ambassadors, we aim to use our stories to spread the word about engaged learning on campus.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of my senior year at NIU! I am really looking forward to delving into my senior thesis and honors capstone, which will be a culmination of years of archival work in Washington DC, New York City, and Berlin, Germany. I am also serving as the president of the Student Advisory Council to the History Department, and am excited to set up peer mentoring initiatives and involve more students in undergraduate research in the following year. I will also be a TA for a journalism design class which I took my sophomore year. Overall, I am so excited and ready to make the next year count, and give back to a university that has afforded me so many opportunities.
An open letter to new NIU students – buzzfeed style
10. The distance between the art building and DuSable is further than you think
Class from 9:00-9:50 in the art building followed by class from 10:00-10:50 in DuSable? Don’t do it. Just don’t.
9. 8 a.m. classes everyday are the worst idea
I know you’d like to think that you will be up bright and early everyday and ready to learn at 8 a.m., because after all, you’re an adult now. But trust me, once the papers and assignments start kicking in, you will be tempted to skip that morning class because you’ve been up late doing homework. Think carefully about what schedule best suits you. For those of you that can do 8 a.m. everyday – kudos, friends.
8. Go to class
Don’t waste your tuition dollars – go to class! It will be much easier for you to be present and pay attention than to try make up for what you missed and scramble for participation points at the end of the semester.
7. Get to know your professors
Take the time to get to know your professors. Ask questions in class, go to office hours. You never know what opportunities might arise from building relationships with faculty.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
College will be a completely different workload to high school. You will be expected to be an independent learner, and the professor won’t make sure you are keeping up with the material. If you don’t understand something, ask – chances are 20 other people in your lecture are also afraid to ask the same question. Need help with time management? ask an academic advisor. Need extra help with that math homework? ask a tutor. Need help finding an organization or club? ask a peer. NIU has so many resources and people that care about your success as a student. Be your own advocate.
5. Go to class
4. Get involved
Some of your best experiences, greatest friends, and most rewarding opportunities will come from the organizations and clubs you join. Especially for freshman – this is a perfect way to transition to NIU and make connections in a new place.
3. Don’t underestimate yourself
As a first semester freshman, I can’t tell you how many opportunities I overlooked because I thought I was too inexperienced. I am here to tell you that you don’t really know until you try it. Take risks, challenge yourself. I didn’t think I could do research as a freshman. Challenging myself to apply for Research Rookies my sophomore year has since taken me to New York City, Washington D.C., and Berlin, Germany.
2. Try everything
This is the time for you to explore what you are interested in. Find your passion and run with it; it can take you anywhere.
1. Education is an experience
Allow yourself to learn and explore what interests you. Set goals. Take time for yourself. Make connections. Your freshman year will be the start of one of the best times in your life, it’s up to you to make the most of it.
My accomplishments at NIU would not have been possible without a number of mentors who believed in my potential. Dr. Heide Fehrenbach stands out in particular as a mentor who has contributed greatly to my success at NIU. I met her as a inexperienced freshman with an intellectual curiosity, wanting her guidance through my first year in the Research Rookies program. In all, she has since guided and supported me through 3 years of undergraduate research, study abroad, conferences, applications, graduate school decisions, and more. As I wrote in my nomination for the Faculty Mentor of the Year Award (which she won!), Dr. Fehrenbach has been instrumental to my success because she challenges me to reach my full potential while also believing in my potential as well. Without Dr. Fehrenbach, I might not have realized my capabilities, discovered my research interests, and have the confidence to apply to graduate programs.
I have not served as a mentor in a formal program, however I have committed myself to being supportive of my peers in any way I can. One of my friends began the Research Rookies program in my second year, and it turned out she had very similar research interests to me and was also working with Dr. Fehrenbach. Using my own knowledge and experiences, I hope I was able to also guide her through the research process and adjusting to campus more generally. Inspired by such friendships, I established a peer mentoring program in the history department to facilitate connections between history majors and minors on campus.
I am particularly excited to begin the Student-Alumni Mentoring Program this Spring. I have found that each connection with an alum, whether at an event or a football game, has helped me understand a little bit more about the value of education and how it will be used in every facet of your life. I am looking forward to learning more about how a degree in history is applicable in a real world setting, which will hopefully help me make informed choices about my future and career.