Hometown: I moved to DeKalb from Joliet, Ill.
Program: Ph.D. Counseling Education and Supervision
Year in school: I am a fourth-year doctoral student.
What inspired you to pursue this degree/career? I wanted to make a difference in the lives of individuals who shared similar life experiences as I have faced in life. It was not until I became a mentor, for the DeKalb County juvenile probation department, I really found my calling. I remember my mentee asking me, “Have you ever thought about being a counselor?” I said, “I have thought about it fleetingly but I am not sure that it is for me.” He said, “You should reconsider because talking with you is far more easier than talking with any counselor or therapist I have ever had to talk with.” Two days later I found myself talking with my mentor, Jack King, who supported and inspired me to enroll in the master’s counseling program.
Why did you choose the NIU College of Education? I feel growth is an essential part of life and, in my opinion, I have grown by leaps and bounds professionally, personally and in my educational development since attending NIU. That’s not to mention that NIU’s counseling program is ranked very high among counseling programs in the United States, so why search for something better when you have something great in your own backyard?
How has your NIU College of Education experience been so far? I can’t describe how meaningful and impactful my educational experience has been thus far. I feel my overall educational development has been pivotal in being able to work and advocate for the populations that has been the focus of my advocacy during this journey. I have learned so much about myself and continue to learn something new every year. I think I have learned more about life in the past few years than my entire collective experiences.
What are your career goals, and why? I have reached so many career goals already, but working on my Ph.D. has taken center stage, followed by partnering with someone to own a counseling practice in the future.
What are you learning here that you know will help you to shape your career? I have learned the value of advocacy, which is an important part of my personal identity. I feel education has helped me to step out of my comfort zone and embrace myself, so I can assist others, which has allowed me to connect to the individuals I work to assist. It has also inspired me to found a 501c3 non-profit to assist individuals who are characteristically unique, with a focus on mental wellness, empowerment and strengthening one’s self-esteem.
Why would you recommend the NIU College of Education? I recommend the NIU College of Education because it is not just the faculty who are invested in students’ successes, but there are many doctoral students who are also invested. They also provide experiential learning opportunities and other areas of student development that is essential to career success.
What advice do you have for future students? Do not just invest in the education, but appreciate the experiences along the way. Take time to be part of the campus, organizations, activities and networking events at NIU, because some of the connections you make may lead to valuable friendships and opportunities to work with fellow individuals that you may cross paths with on their journey. One other piece of advice I have to offer: apply for scholarships! You will never qualify unless you try to put in regardless if you think there are other individuals that are more deserving. Grades are not a determining factor, and your journey to higher education may determine why you are a stronger candidate than the other people that may be applying for that same scholarship.
Fun fact: In my spare time, I enjoy giving back to my vitiligo community, by finding new and exciting ways to inspire advocacy. I love taking time to connect to the individuals and families of my vitiligo community. Last I have counted, I have met over 275 people diagnosed with vitiligo, and I am hoping to go overseas to meet more people from my community.
Do you know an amazing student who should step into the COE spotlight? Email ceduEdNews@niu.edu with names and Z-ID contact information of your nominees.