Mark Pietrowski

Director of Central Advising Office, College of Engineering and Engineering Technology

Mark Pietrowski

What year did you start working at NIU?

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

Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?
I attended Kishwaukee College and earned an Associate of Art degree. I transferred into Northern Illinois University where I earned a B.A. and M.A. in communication. Then, over a decade later after my master's degree, I earned my doctorate in counseling and higher education focused on community college leadership from NIU. 

Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
The Central Advising Office in the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology is responsible for providing academic advising services to undergraduate students and works closely with students, faculty and departments. It is a great joy to direct the office and work with our advisers and office manager to serve students. In my role, I also work with many other areas of the university and examine, refine and create policy for the office. We also work to orient students to CEET and create a welcoming environment where we communicate with them and help them on their academic pathway toward graduation. 

What do you like about working at NIU?
I love the people who work here at NIU. So many individuals care deeply about their jobs and helping students succeed. It is also amazing to see students go through their journey here on campus and work toward their goals. We do not always get to know what happens after students leave NIU, but sometimes we are gifted with finding out when students get involved again with the college/university as alumni. 

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
My advice to students is to find and follow their professional passion and study it in school. Do not ever pick a major based on the fact that there could be lucrative jobs in that field of study. Pick what makes you happy and find a way to make it work. 

What is your favorite campus event?
The annual Reality Bytes Film Festival is my favorite event on campus. It is a free film festival with amazing student films from around the country and a great keynote speaker. This project was created by Dr. Laura Vazquez in the Department of Communication. I'm proud to have helped with the festival when I was a graduate student and to have helped judge several festivals. 

In what ways do you see your colleagues help foster student success?
I see it every day in the central advising office for CEET with the great resources and guidance advisers provide students. Student success is critical to the mission of NIU, and we have to do everything in our power to help foster that success on a daily basis. It could be a friendly phone call and quick answer to a question for a student, or helping them navigate adding that course they really need, or many things to help them so they know others are rooting for them and working toward their success. 

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
I have so many memories of NIU as a student and as a staff member. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be my memories as a reporter for the Northern Star as a student. It provided me with professional work experience as a student and really introduced me to the vastness of NIU and all it offered. The friendships built during that experience and the work skills developed remain incredibly valuable. 

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
I believe I did a drawing for my mom as a 6-year-old that said, "Mom, I love you and soon I will be on the Chicago Cubs!" Well, that plan did not quite work out, but really, I didn't have grand thoughts on what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always wanted just one thing: to be happy. I can say I have achieved that with a career in higher education.

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 was part of the PRSA - Public Relations Society of America for a number of years when I was the faculty adviser for the NIU Public Relations Student Society of America. My involvement helped provide students with professional resources, case studies and more. 

What community organizations are you involved in?
I am a member of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau and the Cortland Lions Club. In the past, I served as the DeKalb County board chair and DeKalb County Forest Preserve president from 2014-2020. I was also part of the DeKalb Kiwanis, DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Egyptian Theatre board and Joseph Glidden Homestead and Visitor Center board, along with other events and nonprofit work. 

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I really enjoy relaxing on the couch and watching a great TV show or movie, playing a video game or reading a book. I also get a kick out of hanging out with my dogs and cat and going on walks. 

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