Assistant Vice President, Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
What year did you start working at NIU?
1984 (left in 1992); returned in 1999.
Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
Detroit, MI, and Naperville, IL.
Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?
University of Michigan, Spelman College (B.A. in Psychology); NIU, Adult Education studies.
Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
I spend much of my day meeting with others, collaborating on the development and enhancement of projects and programs. I also spend time addressing challenging situations and working with teams to create successful outcomes. Another aspect of my position is speaking with students when given the opportunity and engaging in professional development opportunities to help sharpen my skill set and knowledge.
What do you like about working at NIU?
I love the people at NIU! People are collaborative, focused on student success, helpful, supportive and engaging. I also very much enjoy working with and communicating with students. I learn so much from students and they motivate me to work harder and learn more to ensure I am a good role model and resource for them.
What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
I would challenge them to step outside of their comfort zone. NIU offers so many opportunities to engage with others who may be different and to learn about areas that you were not previously exposed (e.g., courses, the arts, athletics, student organizations, lectures and activities). Getting outside of your comfort zone and courageously stepping into uncomfortable territory is what I call "flamingo moments." Flamingos, unlike us, feel comfortable on one leg (off-balance) but it is at those unbalanced moments while seeking and reaching for balance that education takes place. I think we learn quite a bit when challenging ourselves to do so and through adverse moments we are able to self-reflect and grow tremendously. I would also tell students to be open to learning about themselves, meeting and learning about others and to ensure they have fun while at NIU.
What is your favorite campus event?
I do not have one favorite event but I can say those that are my favorites have a vibrant spirit about them and provide an opportunity to engage with others. Here are my top three:
- Move-In Day when new students and families arrive on our campus full of hope and anxiety and you can meet and greet them and welcome them to our Huskie family.
- Week of Welcome because there are so many different activities to meet new people, learn about areas on campus and engage in fun activities.
- Homecoming when alumni return to campus and bring a new energy, share their NIU stories and the campus and students host many activities.
In what ways do you see your colleagues help foster student success?
My colleagues support student success by working beyond their hours to help resolve issues for students, volunteer their time to gain cultural competence training to ensure they have the skill set to support students, and donate their time as volunteers of student organizations and invest their dollars in our student emergency fund and scholarships. They are always willing to assist when called upon to donate their time to committees, programs, and activities to ensure we can sustain a strong foundation for student success at NIU.
What is your favorite memory of NIU?
I have so many individual favorite memories so I will share the "make me smile" moments. I love engaging with students individually and with student organizations. I am an advisor for a student organization called E.B.O.N.Y. Women and watching these wonderful students learn, grow and succeed is extremely fulfilling. Additionally, seeing students reach the point of graduation and sharing in their jubilation is inspiring as is connecting with them as alumni to learn about their personal and career success are always wonderful memories.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I originally wanted become a medical doctor and either pursue sports medicine or cancer research. I knew I wanted to help people and make a difference in their lives by having a sustaining impact. While I did not pursue a career in medicine my career in education has been extremely fulfilling and does allow me to hopefully make a difference in the lives of others that is lasting beyond their time at NIU.
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 am a member of NASPA and NADOHE, which both help me to strengthen my knowledge in many aspects of higher education, network and share information with colleagues. The purpose of these organizations is to provide members with the most current research and best practices in the field regarding student development, diversity, equity and inclusion. This knowledge base allows me to enhance what I do at NIU by infusing the information into our programs, activities and strategic plans.
What community organizations are you involved in?
I am on the executive board of a not for profit organization called Mombasa Relief Initiative. Most of the members are either alumni of NIU or worked here at one time. The shared focus and compassion for support children in Mombasa, Kenya by supporting their school, nutrition program and activities is uplifting, educational, and humbling. It reminds me of all of the blessings I have and the responsibility I have to use my gifts, talents and treasures wisely at NIU and the power and impact of education. Education is an exceptional investment because it can enhance the opportunities for students. As an educator my role is to ensure I provide the highest level of support to the greatest number of students possible so their investment provides them dividends in many ways.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I enjoy engaging with friends and family, listening to audio books, watching sports and movies, playing games, gardening, and designing and completing landscaping projects in my yard.
Monique is the Assistant Vice President, Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Division of Academic Affairs