Aidan Bengford is a political science and history major from DeKalb, IL
Hometown: DeKalb, IL
Year: Expected graduation: 2023
Major: Political science and history
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
For most of my childhood, I didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up. When I was about a junior in high school, I narrowed my political ambitions and decided I wanted to become a lawyer. My political science major has focused on my desire to become a lawyer.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I am majoring in political science and history with a minor in English. I've always wanted to be involved in politics in some way since it is impossible for me to see a life for myself where I am not involved. History classes have upgraded my learning in major ways three different times, so I decided it was the right time to upgrade to a history major. I also enjoy art and creativity, so I thought English would be a great way to express that.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
How much I can do here. I knew about all the opportunities, but I didn't think it would be possible to pursue so many of them at once. The resources at NIU (meaning the faculty, library and staff in various departments) have been useful to achieve what I want.
How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I've struggled in this area, but I mostly focus on forging strong bonds with people I do extracurriculars with.
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 involved with Mock Trial, Sunrise DeKalb and the Pre-Law Honors Society. In addition to that I was involved with the Northern Star, the school paper, in the past. All of them have led me to grow in different ways. Mock Trial was expected growth. I knew what I wanted getting into it, public speaking in the legal context, and that's what I got out of it and then some. The friends I made there have been great. Sunrise and Pre-Law Honors Society have taught me how to step up as a leader when I am needed and taught me some needed bureaucratic logistical knowledge.
What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you succeed? And how?
The library is a great campus resource. It is good to help you meet up with people, study and check out books for classes. There is also an essay review service there, but it works better if you sign up online.
What Honors Program opportunities or support have helped you get closer to your academic or career goals so far?
The encouragement to takes honors classes and take honors engaged experiences have made me a more well-rounded person. This will help me know more than just the law when I get into the legal profession. I will have some background on the material circumstances people face, whether that’s how poisons affect the body or the impacts of racial discrimination.
What do you enjoy the most about the Honors Program?
The McKearn Fellows program, run through the honors program, has introduced me to some great friends. In the pandemic, some smaller-scale groups have been a great opportunity for a closer connection than would be otherwise possible.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
Dr. Brian Sandberg was one of my favorite professors. He taught a history seminar on civil conflict across the world, and I learned a lot more about the research process. This is one of the classes that majorly upgraded my thinking, and I credit Dr. Sandberg with guiding me there.
How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
I have been regularly updated on what's going on and the class discussions are quite valuable.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
There is a nice park bench by the river near DuSable. It's a calming atmosphere and it's not that secluded.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
Take a long break (at least a day) from a topic before returning. Fresh eyes are some of the best editors.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
Honestly, it's school in general. Getting used to the different hours and selecting my own time to study was certainly hard to get used to.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I watch TV shows and play games with my friends.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
The best advice I can offer is to say yes. I said yes as much as I could, and I have gotten so many opportunities because of that.
Follow @HuskiesofNIU on Instagram and see the university through the eyes a different Huskie each week