Emily Darnell is an elementary education major from Island Lake, IL
Hometown: Island Lake, IL
Year: Expected graduation: 2023
Major: Elementary Education
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. There was a short period of time where I was obsessed with the TV show “Cake Boss” and thought I wanted to open a bakery, but that didn't last very long. I am now pursuing my dreams of becoming a teacher.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I am majoring in elementary education with a certificate in ESL. My senior year of high school I took a class where I had the opportunity to spend time in a fourth grade classroom and fell in love with it. Since then, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I decided to specialize in ESL because the number of diverse students is only growing, and I want to make sure I have the knowledge to educate those students in the best way possible.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
I truly feel like all of my professors care about me and my education. A lot of people say that university professors don't care about you as much as high school teachers or community college professors, but I have not found this to be true at all.
How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I have connected with other students just from recognizing each other from having almost all our classes together. Also, there is a lot of collaboration and group work in the College of Education, so that forces us to talk to each other, and I have been able to find people who have the same interests as me.
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 have recently become a peer coach for the College of Education. I have been looking into all of the services and activities that NIU offers, and I don't think this is something I would have done had I not gotten this job.
What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you succeed? And how?
As a peer coach, I work with the Office for Student Success, and they have helped me learn about everything NIU offers.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
Alexis Ball. I had her for a course titled Teaching with a Multicultural Perspective. I think she did a great job leading some difficult conversations and really showing us what a multicultural classroom should look like. I was already very interested in this topic, but Dr. Ball's experience and teaching style made me look forward to going to class.
How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
Going to class regularly forces me to have my assignments done on time because I don't want to have to tell my professor why I don't have something done. It also ensures that I'm not missing any instruction. My courses only meet once a week, so even missing one class puts you behind quite a bit.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
I really enjoy coming to the Holmes Student Center. I appreciate that there is a wide variety of seating options, so I don't always have to be in the same chair or spot. There are also plenty of food and drink options, so I can spend all day there and not have to go outside for anything. There are also activities to do, like bowling and playing pool, if you ever need a break from studying. Overall, I just think it has anything I could ever want, and I love doing homework there.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
I would tell them to make sure they take the time to go on a college tour and see if the environment fits their needs and personality.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I now actually have to take time, almost every day, to do homework and study. I rarely did any schoolwork outside of school in high school and still got good grades, but that is not possible in college.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I enjoy listening to music. There is a song for every type of mood, and it always makes me feel better. Hanging out with friends is always a good option, and I also enjoy going shopping.