John Paul Dela Rosa is a rhetoric and composition English doctoral student from Tarlac City, Philippines
Hometown: Tarlac City, Philippines
Year: Expected graduation: 2027
Major: English Ph.D. program
What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
I received an assistantship from the Asian American Resource Center as a graduate research assistant for the Peer Mentor Program. Back in 2019 until 2020, I also received a scholarship from the Fulbright Commission through the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program, where I taught Tagalog at NIU.
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 really wanted to be a medical doctor growing up. However, coming from a poor family in the Philippines, my parents couldn’t afford to send me to my dream university. My path was redirected when I actually started loving education and being a teacher. I may not be a medical doctor now, but my influence as an educator goes beyond curing illnesses. As an educator, I transform the lives of my students.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
My major is rhetoric and composition under the Ph.D. in English program. I decided to take on this course of study because I would like to improve my craft as an English as a second language (ESL) teacher back in my home country, the Philippines. I like writing more than speaking, so I always find writing research articles and other types of documents very challenging and fulfilling. I wanted to pursue a major that would also help me produce impactful research papers that would add to the body of knowledge in terms of rhetoric, writing and English in general.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
What's pleasantly surprising is the warmth of the NIU community. Prior to moving to the U.S., I honestly had many doubts if I would be able to thrive in a foreign land like America. However, this thought went out of the window when I started living in DeKalb surrounded by the good-hearted and inspiring members of the NIU community—students, faculty, other staff, etc. Due to their kindness, concern and their sheer Huskie spirit, I have concluded that studying at NIU is both a thriving and an amazing experience. It is also the reason why I came back after two years.
How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
As a graduate assistant (GA), I have the privilege of meeting people with different backgrounds and ages. By coordinating events and talking to other NIU students and staff about the program I’m in, I’m able to create networks that help me gain professional colleagues and close friends who are making my stay at NIU more meaningful.
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 OHANA program at the Asian American Resource Center. Involvement is the key to expanding one's experiences as a student at NIU. Being a GA, it is a given that I would gain extraordinary experiences while doing my job. Being a GA is not just a job for me, but a big honor. Mentoring passionate and awe-inspiring students gives me the inspiration and the motivation to be the best version of myself. Listening to other students' life stories and aspirations teaches me the value of hard work and the importance of communing and interacting with others. After all, no man is an island. Together, we can do everything and anything!
What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you succeed? And how?
I am very thankful to the Asian American Resource Center for accepting me in their magnanimous family. I am truly enjoying my experience as a GA for the Peer Mentor Program. I am also thankful to World Languages and Cultures for the support the faculty and staff gave me when I was working as a foreign language TA in the department.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
My favorite professor was Dr. James Cohen of the College of Education. I took a class under him that focused on bilingual education. I learned a ton from his lectures and the worthwhile experiences he was sharing in class. Being in his class was liberating and fulfilling. We also talked about addressing inappropriate politics surrounding conversations and discussions about bilingualism and bilingual education.
How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
One practical benefit of attending classes at NIU is that I am able to improve my English speaking skills. As someone who is not a native speaker of the language, I find my classes as opportunities to pick up new English words and expand my breadth of productive vocabulary. Ultimately, attending graduate-level classes gives me that academic challenge and that motivation to push forward and get inspired—not just to earn a degree, but to improve personally, academically and professionally.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot on campus would have to be the East Lagoon, especially when it's covered with ice during the winter. I find it very "Instagrammable," and of course, as someone who came from a tropical country, I find the view of the East Lagoon during winter to be truly captivating.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
My advice would be to never stop until you reach your goals. There will be times when things do not go your way, and that is normal. Always move past your mistakes, learn from them and be better every day. Don't forget to pray for your success and be happy for the success of others. Follow what your heart dictates, because that is the only way you will be able to enjoy your college life. Interact with people. You'll learn a lot from them!
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
As an international student, I have had to learn how to communicate with my professors and classmates differently. For instance, in my home country, email and other electronic correspondences are not a big thing. In the U.S., they are. So, I had to adjust and get used to looking at my email every day and connecting with people electronically.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
To relax and recharge, I drink coffee. I always say, jokingly, that 70% of my body is coffee. Aside from its health benefits, a good cup of coffee always makes things better, even when I feel stressed or overwhelmed because of so many things.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
I'd like to share that I came to NIU as a graduate student to fulfill my dreams, not just for myself, but more importantly, for my family. I also would like to inspire other Filipinos or perhaps other young adults like me to never stop dreaming and working hard to fulfill any dream they have.
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