Courtney Bradley is a transfer electrical engineering major from Rockford, IL
Hometown: Rockford, IL
Year: Expected graduation: 2021
Major: Electrical Engineering
Transferred from: Rock Valley College
What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
I have received various scholarships during my time here at NIU that have helped pay for a majority of my tuition, books and living expenses. Scholarships I received include the Omron Scholarship, Rock Valley College Foundation Scholarships, City of Rockford Scholarships and, most recently, a NASA Illinois Space Grant Scholarship. These scholarships have allowed me to focus on my studies without worrying as much about finances.
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 growing up, I wanted to be a doctor or surgeon. I am currently pursuing a degree in electrical engineering. I've always liked the challenge of figuring out a solution to a problem, and after going through high school, I realized I had more of a passion for electronics.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I originally transferred to NIU to pursue a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. However, due to funding from a NASA-funded program, I am currently completing the accelerated B.S./M.S. sequence that will lead to both B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering. I will be graduating with my bachelor's degree in May 2021, and I will complete my master’s in May 2022. My love for problem-solving and electronics led me to this degree.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
I have found it surprising how easy it was to get involved in clubs on campus. As a nontraditional student, I thought it would be hard to get involved and stay involved in organizations. However, every club I have been a part of has been very understanding and accommodating to each student’s needs, making it easy for anyone to get involved.
How have you connected with other students virtually to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I have connected with new students through the various organizations that I was a part of before the pandemic. Through weekly Microsoft Teams meetings, we were able to stay connected and keep each other accountable over the past few semesters. I feel grateful to have the connections and support of my peers during these trying times. Whether it was encouraging one another, group study sessions or simply new-member meet-and-greets, each interaction helped keep us all connected.
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?
Yes, I am currently involved in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), serving as treasurer, and the electrical engineering honors society IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu, serving as secretary. I am also an active member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). Outside of these roles, I have held leadership positions on NASA-sponsored projects such as the 2020 Big Idea project and the massive open online courses (MOOC) development project.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
I don’t have a favorite instructor, but I will say that all my instructors in the department of engineering were fundamental to my academic journey. My favorite courses were the ones that allowed me to apply what I was learning in class to everyday life. I enjoy the hands-on part of engineering, so I would say the labs and computer software really allowed me to grasp the material.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot on campus is the Huskie Den. When I first transferred to NIU, it was not open. The only accessible part of the student center was the upstairs. A little over a year ago, I discovered it had opened and was amazed by its remodel. It is a very beautiful and vibrant place to go after a long day of studying, as well as a great place to study.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
I would say apply early and get the financial side in order first by completing your FAFSA as soon as it is available. Also, find a good mentor or advisor to help you with recommendation letters, admission letters, etc.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
While attending college, I have greatly expanded my time-management skills and my social skills. My involvement in various clubs and activities has forced me to break out of my comfort zone and interact with others, which has made me a more well-rounded person.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I enjoy spending time with my family and going new places.