‘NIU helped inspire my life’s purpose’

The Huskie community ignited a passion in this alumnus for serving others.

Randiss HopkinsRandiss Hopkins is a 2017 NIU graduate who works at After School Matters (ASM), a nonprofit organization that engages nearly 19,000 gifted teens across the city of Chicago in after-school programs mirroring their passions and interests. Randiss manages and supports more than two dozen ASM programs in his home community of East Garfield Park on the city’s West Side.

We asked Randiss how NIU played a part in his success and why others should join our Huskie pack that’s 243,000 strong.

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Performing with NIU jazz program

What drew you to NIU?

I attended Curie High School, which historically has placed a major focus on the performing arts. As a musician, I was particularly interested in NIU’s prestigious jazz program.

One thing that drew me to NIU as opposed to some of the prominent music conservatories was that NIU would give me a full traditional college experience that I always dreamed of. As someone who values family and community, maybe an even more important factor was that NIU is close to home, Chicago.

Randiss at VP desk during an internship in Washington, DC
NIU internship in Washington, DC

How did your time at NIU shape you?

Before I came to NIU, I knew only some of my passions, like music and basketball. NIU introduced me to a community of Huskies who used their passions to serve others, whether it was teaching, mentoring or volunteering. I started to see life was much bigger than music, much bigger than basketball. It brought everything full-circle.

NIU helped inspire my life’s purpose. Ultimately, my minor in community leadership and civic engagement (now known as nonprofit and NGO studies) helped spark that discovery just as much as my major in jazz music performance.

While in college, I started the Remember Project, a nonprofit to engage college students from Chicago to come back and be positive role models for inner-city youth through volunteering. More recently, I launched a social business called SURVE, a car rental company specifically for ride-share drivers who need access to a suitable vehicle for work in order to provide for themselves and their families.

Randiss at We Day Illinois, 2015
Participating in We Day Illinois, 2015

What’s the value of a college education?

I believe one of the greatest values of a college education is the network. It's actually more than just a network — it’s a sense of family that I feel connected to forever. You meet people from all walks of life, who in many cases help shape and even expand the way you see and interact with the world.

A lot of my fellow Huskies, from the students to alumni, administrators, counselors, faculty and staff have become lifelong friends, business partners, mentors, and the list goes on.

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Scholarship and Grants

Chicago Public Schools Scholarship 
A one-time, $3,000 stackable award for CPS graduates. Submit your application for admission and file a FAFSA by February 1.

Huskie Pledge 
You could pay no tuition costs or general fees for your first year at NIU – and potentially beyond. Illinois high school seniors applying for Fall 2020 admission with an overall GPA of 3.0 or above may be eligible.

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