Name: Sarah Stuebing
Major: Biological Sciences
Hometown: DeKalb, Illinois
Committee: Engaged Learning/ Civic Engagement, Chair
As an incoming freshman, I didn’t expect much from NIU. I want to study veterinary medicine, but NIU has no veterinary program and I expected to fly through my general education requirements before moving on to another university. However, I quickly learned that NIU had much to offer.
My freshman year, I decided to apply to Research Rookies, an undergraduate research program. I was accepted, and told that I could even create my own project if I wanted. This gave me my first (of many) crazy ideas. NIU may not have a veterinary program, or many opportunities to gather animal experience, but through this research program, I created my own possibilities, where I was able to work with three different professors on a horse massage research project.
I continued to delve right into everything that NIU had to offer as I began my sophomore year. For instance, I am the founder of the NIU Pre-Veterinary Medicine Association. The great part about NIU is that almost anything is possible, if you ask questions, and work hard. There are over 300 active student organizations on campus, but if they don’t fit your needs, you can always start your own. I did.
My sophomore year I also continued with research. This time, I chose the more structured setting of a lab in the psychology department. The lab I was allowed to work in studies rats, so I got another form of hands-on experience with animals and research. I loved being in the lab, and was even listed as a co-author on one of the lab’s recently published papers.
Believe it or not, I wanted to gain even more unique animal experience. So, I found a program that would allow me to work at the only primate rehabilitation center in Argentina. But when I saw the price of the trip, I started to ask around NIU for different ideas of how I could make this possible. I found out that the university has many grants to support students studying abroad, and who are conducting research. Needless to say, my trip became a research project. With the support of a professor who has researched monkeys, I applied for three grants. I received all three, and was able to go to Argentina. Not only did the university support me financially, I also received credit for two classes for my Spanish minor just for my time spent in Argentina. And, to top it all off, I worked and played with monkeys for six weeks.
It’s not where you go, but what you make of it. I know that I am making the most out of my time here at NIU. I still can hardly believe some of the opportunities I have had in just two short years. Now, I can’t wait to see what you make out of your time here at NIU.