NIU celebrates spring commencement

NIU President Lisa Freeman
NIU President Lisa Freeman

NIU College of Education graduates stepped in the spotlight last week during the spring commencement ceremonies.

President Lisa Freeman told the audience at the May 11 undergraduate ceremony about Aaron Goodin, who earned a bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education.

Graduate students received their degrees May 10.

Here are President Freeman’s comments about Goodin.

Aaron Goodin always heard he should teach when he grew up, and it made sense. He loved to learn.

But during his time at Christian Life High School in Rockford, something else tugged at his heart … music. He chose to follow his dreams, writing songs, playing guitar and singing in several local rock bands.

Aaron Goodin
Aaron Goodin

In his early 20s, he enrolled at Rock Valley College but left unsure of his life’s direction, which maybe wasn’t computer programming. A buddy hooked him up with a job at a document center, which led to a long gig working at and managing a print shop.

During these years, he married Haylie, and they became parents of a daughter, Natalie, and a son, Ben. Sadly, Haylie died in 2014 after a courageous fight against cancer.

Suddenly becoming a single parent, and in a profession for which he lacked passion, Aaron determined a reboot of sorts was needed. “So much happened in such a short time,” he will tell you.

At age 36, he returned to Rock Valley … twice as old as most of his classmates … and began studies toward an associate’s with a focus on Early Childhood Education and a notion to design instructional technology.

Yet teaching … that idea always lurking in the back of his head … tapped him on the shoulder … and pointed him here.

Balancing single-parenthood and commuting with classwork, he maintained a 4.0 GPA and shined as his department’s Student of the Month in November.

Today, with the support of his wonderful parents … always happy to watch Natalie and Ben … Aaron graduates with his bachelor’s in Early Childhood.

What an amazing teacher he will be.

He loves connecting with students, learning their interests, engaging their attention through mutual passions, especially video games, TV shows or anything pop culture. He understands the need to lay an early foundation for literacy and learning. He believes in education’s limitless ability to empower people to their full potential, a conviction we share.

Congratulations, Aaron!

Please enjoy this photo gallery from Spring 2019 commencement! Click on each image for a full-size view.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email