Robert Quinn Carolan
Robert Quinn Carolan is a French and Francophone Studies, Political Science double major from Algonquin, IL
Hometown: Algonquin, IL
Year: Expected graduation: May 2020
Why did you choose your field of study?
I chose these fields because I wanted to effect change in Francophone West Africa and Eurasia. Originally, I aspired to accomplish this goal as a French and Russian translator, but after four years of study at NIU and based on work experience in diplomacy, I now intend to pursue a career focused on U.S. missions in these regions.
How did you learn about NIU, and why did you choose to attend?
I originally was on a military tract my senior year of high school, but, after sustaining a disqualifying injury, I applied to NIU. Luckily, I was accepted upon a second review of my final semester grades. My dad Sean and brother Tyler also attended NIU, and I appreciated the special focus NIU staff gave me while I applied.
Do you have any favorite activities or events at NIU?
As a self-proclaimed language nerd, my favorite campus activity was the Foreign Language Residence Program and volunteering in the Study Abroad Office as a peer advisor. However, I also love tailgating at NIU football games and other clubs like Model United Nations.
What do you like about campus and the DeKalb area?
I love the unique architecture of central campus and the diverse community of students that walk around it daily. However, local Dekalb gems, like Barbed City Bagels and Hometown, will always hold memories of fun nights with friends and breakfasts with family and more.
What has your experience inside the classroom been like at NIU?
I have had a wonderful and formative experience inside the NIU classroom. Professors in the Political Science and World Languages departments have not only given me ample opportunity to learn more than what's just covered in the course, but they’ve also helped me navigate an unusual academic path that has stretched to include universities in Russia, a research center in Africa and embassy language training in the former Soviet Union.
What is something you have experienced at NIU that you will be able to take with you into future endeavors in your field?
In the summer of 2019, I had the good fortune to be an NIU Congressional Scholar and intern with U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Illinois' 11th District in Washington D.C. This NIU-funded experience allowed me to gain firsthand domestic work experience in politics and a grasp of D.C. politics during an exciting and interesting time in the U.S. House of Representatives. I have carried this work experience over to opportunities with the U.S. Department of State in Moscow, Ukraine, and, soon, the Republic of Georgia. I intend to use the lessons and skills I learned in Washington D.C. in a future career.
What is up next for you after your time at NIU?
I have a lot of plans for my time after NIU, but my two major goals are the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Moscow, Russia, or the U.S. Department of State Pickering Fellowship to pursue a dual master’s degree in International Trade Policy and Economic Development from Johns Hopkins University.
Would you recommend NIU to others and why? What’s a general piece of advice you’d give to someone starting college?
I would recommend NIU to anyone in or outside of Illinois. At first, I was unsure of the opportunities NIU could give me. I made many paths for myself since arriving on campus, as any student at any university should, and I have only ever received unbridled support from NIU professors and staff in the pursuit of all of my goals. The Political Science staff at NIU not only inspired me to pursue politics and government, but they have given me the tools and recommendations to gain internships and discern which fields I am interested. The World Languages Department gave me the language skills to be competitive while applying to those positions.
However, all of my friends and beloved professors at NIU, as well as the community of Dekalb, have never failed to support me—and me them. So, my number one piece of advice for a student starting their college career at NIU is to make your education unique and take advantage of your greatest asset at NIU, the community. Your friends, professors, teammates and more will motivate you to take on your goals. Never hesitate to use them.