Bella Alfaro

Bella Alfaro

Bella Alfaro is a marketing major from Des Plaines, IL

Hometown: Des Plaines, IL

Year: Expected graduation: 2024

What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
I depend on scholarships to ease the financial burden of college. I’ve received the following:

  • Marketing Scholar Award (recognizes a junior or senior marketing major with a stellar all-around performance)
  • Honors Program waiver
  • Dunn Memorial Scholarship
  • Kovacevich Scholarship
  • Rita C. Patti Student Endowment

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
As a child, you find yourself with endless possibilities of what you want to be. When I was growing up, I changed my mind a couple times, from wanting to be a doctor to wanting to become a lawyer. Ultimately, I decided to go with a totally different route and pursue a business degree.

What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I am a senior marketing major pursuing certificates in professional sales and digital marketing. I found my passion for marketing through photography and graphic design in high school. Marketing was a way to incorporate my creativity and design skills with my teamwork and analytical skills. It gave me the opportunity to have the best of both worlds with my many passions.

What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
The amount of support and mentorship I received was more than I could have imagined. Everyone in the College of Business makes it incredibly clear that they are there to help and support me in any way they can. For example, when I was looking for an internship, Michele Kaczka in the marketing department connected me with an alumnus to meet with. I am so grateful for my support system here in the College of Business.

How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I am proud to say that I am very connected to students inside and outside of the College of Business through being involved in multiple student organizations. The involvement fair during my freshman year exposed me to all kinds of organizations. Through these organizations and forming friendships through group presentations, I was able to meet and befriend a lot of new people.

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 going on two years as the president of NIU Dance Marathon, an organization that raises money for Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. I manage a team of 10 executive board members to organize and host monthly fundraisers that lead up to Huskiethon, our end-of-the-year event in April. I have also been the director of marketing for Leaders in Ethic and Academic Discipline (LEAD) for two years now. We host ethics and experiential learning events on ethical dilemmas. The last student organization I am in is Women in Business. I am also a member of Mortar Board Senior Honor Society and Beta Gamma Sigma.

What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you feel safe, supported and successful? And how?
I currently work as a desk assistant in the Department of Management in the College of Business. Even though I am not a management major, I have always felt supported and safe by the staff and professors. Steph Horgan is the academic advisor in the department, and she is always there to give me a helping hand or academic advice. If I ever have a question, she is the first person I go to. I thoroughly enjoy working alongside her in the department.

What Honors Program opportunities or support have helped you get closer to your academic or career goals so far?
The Honors Program has supported me year after year with a scholarship, which enables me to have financial peace of mind. With the support of the scholarship, I am able to focus on my studies and put my all into achieving my goals.

What do you enjoy the most about the Honors Program?
I feel as though the Honors Program highlights the importance of fun along with education. For two years, I lived in the Honors House in Patterson Hall, and there were so many opportunities to join events organized by the Honors Program. It gave me the opportunity to meet new people and build strong connections with the people living in my cluster.

Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
Jenny Redisi is the director of the sales program, and her class, MKTG 350, introduced me to sales. The class encouraged me to pursue something I never thought I would. I enjoyed the challenge and experience I received. After her class, I received the “golden ticket” to join the sales program and pursue my professional sales certificate. I thank her for all the help and experience I’ve received from the program thus far, and I am excited to continue working with her when I go on the MKTG 411 trip to Silicon Valley this semester.

How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
I am someone who learns best in an in-person environment. I don't perform well when learning through a screen and prefer to be hands-on with my learning. Therefore, it is vital that I attend class regularly in order to learn.

Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
I am always in Barsema Hall. If someone asks where I am, nine times out of 10, the answer is Barsema Hall. I not only take classes in the building, but also work in it. I joke that I live there because I am there open to close. Jokes aside, the building really makes me feel comfortable because I am familiar with it and it is very beautiful. I thoroughly enjoy working and attending classes there, with its open concept and the natural lighting through all the big windows.

What advice would you give to a student who is researching colleges to apply to?
I would say to attend as many college tours as possible and see if you can see yourself walking around the campus. It is important you feel comfortable at the school you attend, and even though you might like the location of a school, if you can't see yourself attending classes or walking around the campus, then you should look somewhere else. Go with your gut feeling and make sure you are happy because it will be your second home for the next four years.

Why is a college education important to you?
My parents have always highlighted the importance of education. From the day I was born to when I first started classes, they made sure I was always receiving the best education possible. I thank them for sacrificing everything in order to set me and my sister up for success. Not only is a college education important to my parents, but it is also important to me. I know what I want to achieve in life, and I know that it is not possible without a degree. I work every day to make myself and my family proud.

What strategies do you use to manage your time between the responsibilities of school, work, friends and family?
As a person who has a very strict and busy schedule, I have to stay organized to achieve everything I signed up for. I work 20 hours a week while being a full-time honors student and being very involved in student organizations. In order to stay on top of everything, I keep all my events in my calendar. This way, I don't miss any meetings and am able to reserve time to finish my homework and study for exams, while making time for friends. Although at times I am overwhelmed by my schedule, I know it is going to be worth it when I graduate, achieving everything I wanted to.

How do you stay informed about events and services that are available on campus?
As a business student, it is easy to stay informed about events and services. Throughout Barsema Hall there are TVs that show events going on throughout the week. We also use Suitable to find events that count for Passport credit. I also frequently check the NIU Events Calendar to see if there is anything I am interested in attending.

What do you do to relax or recharge?
Although I have an extremely busy schedule, I do think that it is important to take time for yourself. I find myself the most relaxed when I am spending time with my family and friends. The distance between my house and NIU is a little over an hour, so I enjoy visiting my family on the weekends to recharge. I also make sure I have a proper amount of time to hang out with friends, because I believe having a good support system is worth more than anything.

Please tell us about your job and hobbies.
I am someone who enjoys having a lot of different hobbies to pass the time. I have been doing photography and graphic design for over nine years now. I enjoy action photography with a focus on dance photography. I also learned how to golf two summers ago, and I look forward to getting back into it when the weather improves. I also enjoy reading and taking care of all my houseplants.

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