Carley Ackland is an English major from Rochelle, IL
Hometown: Rochelle, IL
Year: Expected graduation: 2024
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
When I was very young, I didn't think about what I wanted to be, I was too busy enjoying what I was: an artist, a scholar, a scientist, a veterinarian, a dancer and a musician. My mom supplied my sisters and I with books about interesting people doing interesting things, and through this I was inspired to dream about future careers. After becoming a reader, I realized I loved storytelling. I started writing fiction like crazy. I've had my writing published in several acclaimed magazines and newspapers, and I'm especially proud of my short stories and poems that were published in the Kamelian, Kishwaukee College's literary and arts journal. One of those short stories went on to win second place in the regional literary and art awards from the Community College Humanities Association, which was quite an honor. While I was taking college courses that followed my interest in literature, I felt called to share my love of stories and help students develop skills in reading, writing and original thought. That led to my pursuit of teaching English (I've also continued working on my YA novel, with hopes of having it published).
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I'm majoring in English so I can develop my own English skills and become a certified secondary English educator.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
I started taking courses at NIU in 2020, so all my classes have been online. I know that this unexpected season of learning has been frustrating for students and faculty, but it has been a positive experience for me. The amazing educators I've worked with have been kind, accommodating and patient. They've provided me with a myriad of resources to allow me to interact with other students during group projects and observe classrooms virtually, from the safety of my home. I'm indebted to all of them and honored to be in their classes.
How have you connected with other students virtually to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I've had the pleasure of making friends with other NIU students through Teams, Blackboard Collaborative and Zoom. I'm also the secretary of the NIU Table Tennis club, and we've been able to (safely) get together and practice. I'm looking forward to joining more clubs and groups in the future.
Are you involved in any student organizations, mentoring programs or extra-curricular activities? If so, which ones? How have they added to your experience as a Huskie?
I am the secretary of the NIU Table Tennis club. Because we've been able to (safely) get together and practice, I was able to visit the Recreation Center for the first time since becoming a Huskie. It really helped me feel like I was a part of the Northern Illinois University pack, and I'm looking forward to spending more time on campus.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
I have had a 100% positive experience with my NIU instructors/professors so far. I have been in a class with Dr. Beth McFarland-Wilson for two semesters in a row (ENGL 300C and ENGL 404A), and I know that her classes have prepared me the most for my future career as an English educator. I love her wit and wisdom, and I believe in her passion for her trade and her interest in her students' successes. Her kind spirit is infectious.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
I recently had the delight of attending an NIU symphony concert that my sister performed the clarinet in. I've been going to NIU NIU concerts for years, and I will never get tired of the massive amounts of talent that the NIU students and faculty pour into their craft. The atmosphere in their concerts are tangible. Of course, I also look forward to exploring the library!
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
Don't be afraid to ask questions. Use the useful resources that are available to you. Ask more questions. But also, don't be afraid to rely on your own intuition.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I've learned to speak up and share my opinions and ideas in class. It's important to listen, but it's also important to share your voice.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I'm an introvert, so I enjoy recharging by taking a walk in the forest, reading, writing and gardening. I like to blog on my self-created website, where I write posts about my writing and gardening adventures, as well as interviews with other writers (my most recent Q&A was with Stephan Bachmann, a young author who has written YA international bestseller novels). It's almost time to start gardening again, can you believe it? I already have three tomato plants under a grow light in my basement; one of them has already sprouted little yellow flowers.