Mary Studebaker-Reed

Office support specialist, School of Interdisciplinary Health Professions

Mary Studebaker-Reed

What year did you start working at NIU?

Where is your hometown? and where do you live now?
As the child of a military servicemember, the hometown question is difficult! We moved around a lot, but I would consider Colorado Springs to be the place I call home. I currently live in Rochelle, Illinois. 

Where did you attend school? What degree(s) did you earn?
I have a Master of Science in forensic anthropology from the Boston University School of Medicine and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology from the University of Colorado.

If you attended college, were you a first-generation student?

Describe your typical day—what do you do while at work?
Every day is a different, an aspect of my position (in the School of Interdisciplinary Health Professions) I really enjoy. Often, my days at work consist of communication via phone and email with current students, prospective students, faculty, staff and members of the community. On any given day, I could be working on scheduling upcoming courses, adopting textbooks for upcoming semesters, answering enrollment questions, facilitating curricular updates, supporting faculty and department projects, or sharing information about our programs with prospective students. There is always something to do!

What do you like about working at NIU?
I am so proud to be a member of a community that is incredibly welcoming and just wants to see everyone succeed! Working at NIU is a very holistic experience, because the university community really cares about the well-being and futures of their employees. I work alongside professionals who are dedicated and enthusiastic, and their contagious attitudes make me excited to show up to work every morning!

What advice would you give to students currently attending NIU?
We are living through a number of life-changing events. I would encourage every student to take the time to acknowledge everything they are feeling about the current state of affairs and be accepting of their emotions. Over time, we will all begin to process these changes and move forward. But for now, it's important to give yourself the grace to accept your situation as it is and remember that it's okay not to be okay. Know that there is always help to be had if you need it, especially here at NIU. 

In what ways do you see your colleagues help foster student success?
Within the College of Health and Human Sciences, I have found that my colleagues are incredibly kind, compassionate, student-focused individuals. Since my very first day and throughout all of my interactions with other staff in CHHS and at NIU in general, I have been blown away by the level of commitment to student success. From our processes to our interactions to our missions and daily tasks, everything we do is in the service of our student community. That level of dedication and passion for what we do is rare, and I am confident that it makes a world of difference in the lives of our students. 

What is your favorite memory of NIU?
I haven't been with NIU very long, but my favorite memory so far has been connecting with other staff members in the College of Health and Human Sciences. You'd be surprised at the amount of laughter that comes out of even the most mundane budget meeting! Working virtually hasn't stopped our ability to forge genuine connections with one another.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you currently doing it? If not, what changed your path?
Growing up, I was an avid reader and was fortunate to have a grandfather who loved history. Even when I was a child, we engaged in fairly sophisticated conversations about past civilizations, and for a while I was completely obsessed with Pompeii. I eventually decided I wanted to be an archaeologist, and I did pursue my bachelor's with a focus in anthropology. I worked as an archaeologist in Colorado for a time then pursued my master's in the somewhat related field of forensic anthropology. Now, my path continues to evolve. I'm not entirely sure what's next, but I'm certain that my passion for learning about culture and the world around us will never change. I definitely see myself as a lifelong student!

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 a few professional anthropology organizations, including the American Association for Physical Anthropologists and the Colorado Council of Professional Archaeologists. My experience with these organizations encourages me to continue questioning everything, stay current with the research in my field, and read voraciously. 

What community organizations are you involved in?
I just moved to Illinois in 2020, so I am still learning about the community and ways to get involved. I am excited to begin taking part in the Well-being Committee work group here at NIU this spring. 

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I have always loved reading, so in my downtime I am often curled up with a good book. 

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