Assistant director, Huskie Academic Support Center, Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program
What year did you start working at NIU?
Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
Chicago and DeKalb.
In what department do you work?
Huskie Academic Support Center, Supplemental Instruction (SI) Program
Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?
I went to NIU. I have a B.A. in organizational corporate communication, 1997; an M.S.Ed in community agency counseling, 2001; and an Ed.D. in counselor education and supervision, 2011.
If you attended college, were you a first-generation student?
Yes, first-generation and low-income student admitted to NIU through the CHANCE Program.
Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
My day consists of recruiting, hiring, training and programming for all things related to supplemental instruction. I work consistently and collaboratively with campus partners to help deliver dynamic academic support to students in need. I enjoy writing letters of recommendation and completing referrals for past student workers because it is indicative of their successful academic journeys. I mentor three freshman students. I am the campus advisor of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS).
What do you like about working at NIU?
What I love most about working at NIU is connecting with students from all backgrounds and watching them or assisting them with their growth and development as they matriculate through their programs. I love mentoring students because as a first-generation college student, I know there are several gaps that exist for those like me. I love the work that I do because it is my way of giving back to multiple communities: my hometown communities as students come into the university and I support them on their journey, and then the DeKalb communities through hiring students so that they're able to return each semester and graduate. I also love sharing with students that SI is a fun and interactive alternative to tutoring that uses collaborative techniques to help with processing course material.
What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
The best advice that I could give to current students attending NIU is to never give up on yourself and to seek academic help when necessary, because it is free and available to those in need (seeking academic support is not a form of punishment, rather it is iron sharpening iron, because we all are scholars). I would also advise them to create a strong network that consists of a few or many (your network creates your net worth) and to have fun learning.
What is your favorite campus event?
I am a true NIU alum and have multiple campus events as favorites. My favorite events are the CHANCE Program's annual graduation luncheon, where students' successes are highlighted; NIU Welcome Days; Homecoming Week; and Tutor Appreciation Week, an in-house recognition of Sl student employees.
In what ways do you see your colleagues help foster student success?
Mostly through partnering and collaborating across campus.
What is your favorite memory of NIU?
Each time that I successfully completed another degree path and every time a past or current SIL or any student I have mentored graduates, especially when they either enroll in graduate school at NIU or elsewhere.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I never knew what I wanted to be while growing up because life was somewhat chaotic, but whenever asked this question, I would always answer that I wanted to be remembered for doing something good for others. I didn't quite know what that was ever. As an educator, a higher education administrator and a licensed clinician, I would say I followed my heart's path. What changed my path were my lived experiences. I left DeKalb after my second degree and found myself back here with my family years later doing what I am doing today. I stumbled on the field of counseling by taking a graduate course in counseling while enrolled in the master's program for communication, and I found my niche. It was all uphill from that class, Counseling 500. I had always been told that I was easy to talk to and a good listener, but with no therapy offices or clinics in my community, I never considered such a career path.
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?
No, not currently, but I have been within the past year: the Illinois Mental Health Counseling Association and the American Counseling Association, Division of LGBTQ. I believe that my membership in professional organizations benefits my professional growth and development, and most importantly, I am able to help students like me learn more about the benefits of counseling on their mental health.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I love listening to music, exchanging ideas with others about life and engaging in self-care activities when possible.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
I am proud to be a Huskie! I have made some great connections since starting my NIU journey in the early '90s. I am a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., which is a lifetime of sisterhood that I am blessed to have. As an alum, I have co-developed and taught courses through the Center for Black Studies that will never leave me. One course that my spouse and I created, BKST 302, was geared toward helping queer students of color (QPOC) develop healthy identities and learn how to navigate higher education spaces safely. As a self-identified lesbian, I know the negative impact that invisibility can have on a student's psychosocial development and sense of self overall if spaces do not exist where we are visible. I truly enjoy giving voice to the voiceless and bringing visibility to the invisible.