Tony Calderala

Academic advisor, Kinesiology and Physical Education

Tony Calderala

What year did you start working at NIU?

Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
My hometown was Warrenville, Illinois. I now live in Sycamore, Illinois.

In what department do you work?
Kinesiology and Physical Education 

What is your job title?
Academic advisor

Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?
My B.S. in psychology is from Illinois State University; my M.S. in psychology is from Roosevelt University; and I'm working toward my Ed.D. here at NIU.

Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
This is a tricky question in these times. Right now, my day hopefully goes as follows: Check email and catch up on any missed questions or concerns; get my son logged in to his class for the morning; go back to email, Teams appointments, and phone calls. Work projects for the department and college as assigned. In general, I am a very student-focused person and position. I make sure I do my best to guide my students through their college experience, good and bad, and help them identify the best options for their future goals and success.

What do you like about working at NIU?
I love working in such a diverse university. Working with our students is a pleasure, and I get to help them through a pivotal time in their lives and learn a lot about the world around them. My colleagues in the KNPE department are great too; we all work to help each other and focus on our students. NIU just offers a sense of community in which we can grow.

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
Take the experience in as it comes to you. You will have struggles and success. Lean on the NIU community to take those struggles and learn and develop from them. Celebrate the success with the NIU community, provide an example for those who may be struggling. I have said the word "fail" is good work; it breaks down to mean "First Attempt In Learning." Think of your experiences as learning throughout life, and you will continue to grow and find success.

What is your favorite campus event?
Graduation. It is a great feeling to see students I have worked with take those last steps across the stage and start the next chapter. 

In what ways do you see your colleagues help foster student success?
In KNPE, it is a team effort. We work with students from all angles to provide and foster a full learning experience. If we see someone who needs a hand, we reach out, and of course our doors (and screens) are open for students to come see us.

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
In my short time at NIU, it would have to be how the Exercise Science Club has changed over the years. It was a student group looking for an advisor. I was happy to help, and they have really built something that will continue to grow and provide unique experiences for other students. Student-driven, student-focused.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I started off wanting to be a high school history teacher before making a switch to behavioral psychology. I would say I am doing a job that allows me to combine the two. I took a unique path to get here. I worked in HR for a while, then in hotel management, before knowing I wanted to be back in education, and that higher education was a right fit to provide guidance to students.

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 NACADA. This is the national/international professional organization for academic advising. It provides a great foundation for what academic advisors' roles should be, methods to be successful, and is always changing and innovating with the times. 

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I spend a lot of time with the family. My boys keep me busy, whether it is playing games or sports, watching movies or reading a book. We camp a lot as a family, too. We recently got a camper and completely remodeled it, with plans to travel the country when time allows. I also train (myself and others) and compete in a lot of obstacle course races. My wife says that is not relaxing, but it is the sense of community and accomplishment that makes it so. It also allows me to connect with students in our program, as it relates to a lot of their interests. 

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