Suzanne Degges-White

Chair and professor, Counseling and Higher Education

Suzanne Degges-White

In what department do you work?
Department of Counseling and Higher Education

Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?
I attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I have a Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision, a graduate certificate in women's studies, an M.S. in community counseling and a B.S. in psychology.

Do you have a college age or college-bound student?
Not now, but two of my kids earned NIU degrees. One is a double alum with a bachelor's in political science and a J.D. from the law school; my oldest earned her B.S. in electrical engineering.

Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
The best part of my day is when I am able to engage with students, staff and faculty. While much of a chair's job is administrative in nature, it's the opportunity to stay in touch with what is happening on campus through all of the institution's stakeholders that is the most rewarding. 

What do you like about working at NIU?
The people are phenomenal. So much is asked of folks at every level, and everyone works hard to make the magic happen!

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Focus on your studies but take advantage of all of the activities available on campus and the opportunities to stretch yourself outside your comfort zone. No matter what your age, college provides a space in which you are challenged to think beyond what you know and push yourself to learn more and to take new perspectives. Be willing to experience a little discomfort as you grow in your knowledge and your understanding of the world. Don't limit yourself to just who and what you know best. Enjoy the wide variety of opportunities to meet new people, build new relationships, and shift your perspectives and ideas about the world.

What is your favorite campus event?
Commencement is always a marvelous time to look back on the work that has been done preparing our newly graduating students, while also feeling the thrill and excitement as they realize that they are starting their next chapters in life. These transitional events can bring reflection and celebration for those who play a part in a student's success: family, faculty, administrative staff and everyone else who was a part of the student's story here at NIU.

In what ways do you see your colleagues help foster student success?
Our team is keenly focused on student success by ensuring that course content meets professional standards and that course rotations are scaffolded and support students' development through their graduate programs. They support student organizations and collaborate in scholarship projects with students. Mentoring is also a huge part of faculty engagement in student success. Our advisor and administrative staff are committed to ensuring that students' needs are met, that the path through the "admin labyrinth" is as streamlined as possible.

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
Every time there's a commencement and I see my department's students walk across the stage, that is a new "favorite memory." The sense of camaraderie at our all-college meetings each August and January also creates lasting memories. It's all about the people here who are working so hard to support students on their academic, personal and professional journeys.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I wanted to be a writer and a therapist, and the career path I chose has very much allowed me to fulfill both of those childhood career dreams.

Are you a member of or hold a position within a professional organization? If so, what organization? What is the purpose of that organization and how does being part of this organization benefit you in your role at NIU?
I'm a member of the American Counseling Association and past member of the governing council for this organization. I'm a member of the Association for Adult Development and Aging and also a past-president of this organization. I'm a member of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision. All of these organizations are related to counseling, which is my field of expertise.

What community organizations are you involved in?
I am not a formal member of any organization at the moment, but I volunteer time and resources in the form of presentations on topics related to mental health and well-being.

What do you do to relax or recharge?
We have two dogs, Artemis and Kenobi, who adore long walks and outdoor "fetch" time, so entertaining the pups is a great recharger. I also love to cook and bake, so spending a day in the kitchen is more relaxing and rewarding to me than a day at the spa!

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