Angel Avery is a transfer human development and family sciences major from Romeoville, IL
Hometown: Romeoville, IL
Year: Anticipated graduation year: 2022
What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
I am on an NIU transfer student scholarship. I was awarded this scholarship because I graduated from my previous college with high honors. The financial support has had a positive impact on my ability to continue my education while accumulating less debt than I would have without it. My financial future is just as important to me as my academic future because I am trying to advance my career while providing for my family, which includes my son and three younger brothers I am responsible for. In addition, being awarded this scholarship as a new transfer made me feel acknowledged, welcomed and supported by the NIU community. I am very grateful for this award.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
Growing up, I do not ever remember wanting to be just one thing. I wanted to pursue everything that I was capable of and interested in. This is a character trait that I still have now. My current emphasis is family and individual development; I plan to use this degree to apply for the Marriage and Family Therapy program here at NIU. From there, because education and teaching also interest me, I would love to pursue a Ph.D. in education so I can work in the therapy field while teaching it, as well. This is not the path that I thought I would be on even five years ago. However, the closer I get to my goal, the more I realize that this is what I was meant to do all along.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
My major is human development and family sciences with an emphasis in family and individual development. I chose this course of study because I know that I was born to help people. From my years working in the service industry, to just being a listening ear to the people in my life, helping others has always come naturally to me. After I completed my associate degree in human services, I had my son and realized how important it is to have the tools necessary to have a healthy and happy family dynamic. I want to help others gain this knowledge and support in my future career in marriage and family therapy.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
One thing I have found pleasantly surprising about my experience at NIU is how connected I feel to the Huskie community while only taking classes online. From the professors doing everything they can to engage their online students, to all the virtual resources that have been offered and the consistent emails from deans and other NIU staff members, I always feel in the loop. I truly feel like I have the support that I need from the NIU community to get through the challenges of being a new NIU student taking classes from home.
How have you connected with other students virtually to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I love that almost every class has given me the opportunity to engage with classmates through small groups. This has helped me connect with other students who have similar interests, and it has helped me make friends at NIU. I have used group texts, Microsoft Teams and Zoom to keep in touch with my group members.
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 lucky to have been accepted into the Honors Program here at NIU. This opportunity has elevated my experience as a Huskie in many ways. I love the robust conversations and input from other students in my honors classes and seminars. I also like the smaller class sizes, which allow more time to connect with professors. Finally, I love all the engagement and learning opportunities that have been presented to me as an honors student. Overall, I feel like this experience has benefitted me academically, professionally and personally.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
I have enjoyed all my instructors so far. However, this semester I am lucky to have two amazing professors who have impacted me. Dahlia Roman teaches my child development course, and Dr. Paul Wright teaches my honors seminar about positive youth development in sport. I recently had a family emergency that resulted in having to miss two days of class. After contacting them about my absences, not only were they understanding and compassionate, they both provided me with advice and resources in the community that helped my family in a tough time. In addition, they are both engaging to their students and easy to talk to. I wish I could pick one, but they both have helped me greatly.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
Because I am a mom taking all my classes online, I do not get to hang out on campus. However, I do drive through DeKalb pretty often. I love when I get to the part of town where all the NIU flags are hanging from the streetlights. I always slow down a little and glance around at the campus and students, feeling a sense of pride and connection to the Huskie community. I am drawn to this area because it is my reminder that I am here at this amazing university and I am part of the rich, diverse Huskie culture.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
Say yes to as many positive experiences as you can! There are opportunities that will present themselves to you every step of the way. You may not always feel smart enough, prepared enough, qualified enough or available enough to say yes, but trust that what is meant for you will always be yours. So, try new things, get outside of your comfort zone and learn everything you can from whomever you can, because that is what we are here for!
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I have had to learn how to schedule and prioritize my time more than ever before in life. On a normal day, I have class and work, while being responsible for my son and three younger brothers' e-learning, in addition to cooking, cleaning, doing homework and taking time for self-care. It feels almost impossible to get everything done in a day unless I schedule things out perfectly. I learned how to make spreadsheets just to keep myself on this schedule. It was not easy at first, but I am making it work; it has become a routine for me.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I am obsessed with lifting weights. I love going to the gym to recharge because it only takes about an hour of my day, and I can do it between classes or while my son is taking a nap. I pursue my fitness goals in the same way I pursue my academic goals. Every time I reach a goal, it gives me a boost of confidence and the ability to pursue the next one. Lifting also has the added benefits of boosting my mood, relieving stress and giving me more energy for the day, and it's fun!
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
I felt connected to NIU before I even thought about applying here. I watched my sister graduate with two degrees from NIU, and my brother-in-law, in addition to many of my friends who came here out of high school. There was always something I liked about NIU; I think that this is where I was meant to be all along.