Kellyanne Critzer is an elementary education major from Round Lake Beach, IL
Hometown: Round Lake Beach, IL
Year: Expected graduation: 2023
Major: Elementary Education
What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
I have received merit scholarships, AIM HIGH, the TEACH Grant, Penguin Players Support Fund and the Golden Apple Scholarship. Most of these scholarships were based on grades and financial need. However, the TEACH Grant and Golden Apple Scholarship are based on the requirement that I teach in a Title One school in Illinois after I graduate. The Penguin Players Support Fund is a scholarship based on the principles of going above and beyond and embodying the spirit of one of the first mentors in Penguin Players. These financial supports have made a tremendous impact on my experience at NIU. I have not had any financial burden since starting here, and it is all because of these scholarships. I want to thank all of my donors who have enabled me to continue my education after high school.
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 always wanted to be a teacher. I have been babysitting since a young age, and I have always loved working with kids. I find it fascinating how they grow and learn.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I am an elementary education major with an emphasis in special education. I have always loved working with kids. I had an experience helping out in an elementary classroom in high school, and I loved it. As for the emphasis in special education, I have always had an interest in the field. I had a friend with Down syndrome growing up, and in high school, I helped coach my school's Special Olympics team. I also was a gym leader in the special education class. They have always brought me so much joy and bring positivity to every day. Spending time with them makes my day.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
I am on the women's volleyball club team. I joined after not playing volleyball for three years and with minimal experience. Over the past two years, I have gained not only experience and a position as vice president, but I have made friendships that will last a lifetime. I never thought that something I tried out just for fun would turn into some of my favorite parts of the week and have such a big impact on my life.
How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I have connected with other students through clubs at NIU as well as through my classes and my job. I am a part of clubs regarding my major. I am also fortunate enough that I am in a cohort with people in my classes, and we all have the same classes every semester. This makes it a lot easier to study and make friends since I see them all the time.
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 in the women's club volleyball team, Camp Kesem, Penguin Players and Student Council for Exceptional Children. These organizations have allowed me to find a passion in life and have given me a sense of belonging. They have helped shaped me into the person I am today.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
My favorite professor was Julie Bartelt. She taught my classroom management class during my first professional block. She was passionate about her teaching and made something fun in every single class we had. Professor Bartelt gave us knowledge that we will use forever in our classrooms.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot on campus is the Gabel Hall Learning Center. It is a calm environment where I can do my homework. They offer free coffee and hot chocolate, and it is a nice place to go between classes.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
I would say that the most important piece of advice is to research, research, research. Colleges are so different depending on cost, area, social life and programs. It is important to go to a school that is right for you. Visiting schools is also important to see what you like about the campus and surrounding area.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I had to learn how to live with someone else. Since freshman year, I have had at least one roommate. I had to adjust to checking in if I was bringing someone over, and I had to be more cautious about sleep schedules and buying food.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I recharge by watching movies with my roommates.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
My dad went here as well. We are a big Huskie family and I am proud to continue that legacy.
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