Rafael Casas

Rafael Casas

Rafael Casas is a transfer, athletic training graduate student from LaSalle, IL

Hometown: LaSalle, IL

Class of: 2023

Year: Expected graduation: 2023

Transferred From: Illinois Valley Community College 

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 kid, I would always talk about becoming a physical therapist. However, I did not pursue physical therapy and instead chose a major that I particularly fell in love with, athletic training. 

What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
My major is athletic training. I chose this major because it is challenging and rewarding at the same time, and also because I grew up playing sports my whole life and athletic training is a career that allows me to be around sports forever. There are a lot of reasons as to why I chose this course of study, but a major one that sticks out to me are the endless opportunities that this career path has to offer if you work hard and apply yourself. 

What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
The faculty and staff that I have come across are extremely inviting, friendly and supportive. This has made me enjoy coming to class and greeting everyone. Also, NIU has a lot of unique opportunities to take advantage of. 

How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I am usually one to study on my own, but I was able to connect with students before and after classes to discuss any lecture material that didn't click right away or to just talk and get to know one another. 

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 was involved in the Exercise Science Club and held the vice president position for the 2020-21 academic year. A major event that the Exercise Science Club is part of is the Abominable Snow Race, and I actually had the opportunity to be part of the build crew, race the course and represent NIU on the podium. 

What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you succeed? And how?
The Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education has been my biggest support system throughout my academic career. Every faculty member I have come across has helped me with every and any question I had regardless of what it was. The faculty genuinely care about their students and want to see them succeed. 

Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
My favorite professor? There is no way I can choose only one, so I will choose two, Dr. Hill and Dr. Wood. Dr. Chris Hill taught my biomechanics course during my junior year. Dr. Hill has been a great mentor for me and has helped me realize my potential as a student. Dr. Tyler Wood currently teaches my modalities course. Dr. Wood is a fun person to be around, does a great job listening to any and all student feedback, and provides a great learning environment for students. 

How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
Attending class regularly has allowed me to engage in class and ask questions about lecture material I may not understand. 

Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot in the community is the nature trail in DeKalb. The trail is a little over a mile in length, and it is surrounded by trees. I was drawn to this trail because it is a perfect spot to bike or run, two of my major hobbies. 

What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
Applying to colleges can be overwhelming, but for good reason. You are looking for a university to spend the next four or so years of your life. Take time to learn about the school and what is has to offer. Lastly, challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone. You will never know your true potential if you do not challenge yourself. 

Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
Study habits. It took me a while to figure out what works best for me to comprehend different material. In previous years, I honestly did not know how to study effectively. I began asking my professors what worked for them and began implementing different strategies that eventually helped me pick out things that worked and ones that were not very effective.

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I enjoy working out. It does not really matter what type of exercise; it is all therapeutic for me. I also listen to a lot of different music. 

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