Judith Facio is a transfer psychology major from Elgin, IL
Hometown: Elgin, IL
Year: Expected graduation: 2023
Transfer from: Elgin Community College
What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
I was awarded the NIU Foundation Impact Scholarship in 2021, the Dick Noreen Honors Scholarship in 2021, the NIU Alumni Association Merit Scholarship in 2022, the A. Bond and Margaret F. Woodruff Scholarship Fund in 2022 and the Alumni Honors Scholarship in 2022. These scholarships were given to me because of my academic excellence, outstanding work ethic and Huskie pride. I also received an award for my poster and presentation at the Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference (PURC) in 2021. This award was given to the two best posters/presentations at the annual Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference. Because of this financial support, I was able to focus on school completely without having to worry about my tuition. I was able to focus on the student organizations I am part of as well as volunteer more throughout my community. Furthermore, I was able to provide some relief to the financial situation my family has, as three of my siblings are currently in college like me.
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 always wanted to be someone who helps others. I kept this in mind as I sought what I wanted to be. I enrolled in a program called Elgin Police Explorers at age 15. This program was designed for teenagers and organized by the Elgin Police Department. Every Wednesday we would have a meeting at the police station with an agenda of what we would be doing at that meeting with topics such as handcuffing, domestic violence, traffic stops and CPR. At that time, I knew I wanted to be involved in criminal justice, more especially in the police aspect, one way or another. Today, I am pursuing a career in criminal justice, whether it be as a police officer, police crisis counselor or another role. I am currently pursuing a major in psychology, a minor in counseling and a certificate in criminology.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I am majoring in psychology, minoring in counseling, and receiving a certificate in criminology. After taking one psychology course, I realized that I wanted to learn more about it. Additionally, with this major and minor, I plan to make an impact in the future of policing by providing a different set of skills that can appropriately handle a situation without using force, as well as handle situations with people who could potentially have mental disabilities/disorders.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
What I simply thought would be a school that would help me receive a bachelor's degree, NIU has shown me otherwise. While NIU does help me obtain my degree, it has shown me what it means to be united. After being here for more than a year, I could confidently say that everyone cares for one another. Huskies have been nothing but inclusive during the time I spent here. They welcome everyone like a family and help one another as we all aim for the same goal of completing our education and achieving our dreams.
How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
When I first started at NIU, I knew no one. Throughout my classes, I was able to create new friendships. To stay connected, we would use social media, such as Snapchat, Discord or text messaging to study for exams or ask for help. I believe that having these connections with other people helped me understand a topic more or learn more about the campus.
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 a member of the Psi Chi: International Honor Society in Psychology as well as in the University Honors Program. I have also had the privilege of working in two independent studies alongside Dr. Britt and Dr. Wiemer. Being a Psi Chi member has helped me become more engaged in the community. I was able to learn more about the NIU campus as well as meet other people who have an interest in psychology. For the two independent studies, I was able to present them at the Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference in 2021 and the Conference on Undergraduate Research and Engagement in 2022. Through these organizations and events, I was able to experience what it meant to be a Huskie. In the case of the independent studies, I was able to feel the joy of presenting research I worked on with others. I was able to engage in meaningful conversations with other Huskies. In the Psi Chi organization and Honors Program, I felt united with other Huskies who are similar to me. Everyone I have met has treated me with respect and kindness.
What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you succeed? And how?
The Department of Psychology and the Honors Program have helped tremendously. At times, when I needed advice for my classes, I would seek my advisor and/or an honors advisor. They have been able to keep me on the right path to graduate.
What Honors Program opportunities or support have helped you get closer to your academic or career goals so far?
An Honors Program opportunity that helped me get closer to my academic goals were the CODE workshops. These workshops helped me see the world differently. It made such an impact because, for instance, while we only focus on ourselves, we do not pay attention to what others may feel or experience daily. In every session, I gained insight into what others experienced as well as how everyone, including myself, suffers from labels and stereotypes. Being a member of the University Honors Program has helped me become more inclusive and advocate for any injustices made so that one day we can build a safe and diverse community. Another Honors Program opportunity that has provided me with an abundance of support is an honors course called HSCI 399: Honors Seminar: Interprofessionalism in Health Sciences. This seminar, taught by Dr. Henry, has taught me numerous things I can apply in the future. Although this course was designed for those who have a career in health care, I was able to benefit from the way it demonstrated how communication and collaboration are essential in every team. Overall, I gained insight into the opportunities I have had in the Honors Program as well as its courses.
What do you enjoy the most about the Honors Program?
What I enjoy the most about the Honors Program is the numerous opportunities and resources they have offered. The Honors Program offers a variety of services for students such as Honors Engaged experiences, workshops and seminars. I enjoyed being able to take an honors seminar with other honors members. I was able to connect more with them. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the CODE workshops as I was able to learn more about myself and other Huskies.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
Dr. Katja Wiemer, also known as Dr. K, is one of my favorite professors at NIU. Dr. Wiemer is kind, understanding and persistent in teaching her students. She is well-versed in cognitive psychology and is always looking to further develop her knowledge of a subject, while also helping everyone learn. She specializes in cognitive psychology, and I had the privilege of taking three courses with her. Dr. Wiemer teaches PSYC 345: Cognitive Psychology, PSYC 410: Perception and an independent study. I have never met a more passionate or motivated professor!
How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
Although I live approximately an hour away, I attend class regularly. I have benefited from this by receiving the most knowledge out of my courses. Whether there is a final exam or final paper, I am able to use what I learn to help me achieve the best grade possible. Additionally, by attending class regularly, I am able to interact with my classmates and professors more, as well as get answers to any questions I have about the topic.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot on campus is actually on the fourth floor of the Psychology-Computer Science Building. On the fourth floor, there is a place where I can study or relax before my next class starts. The reason why I keep going back to that spot is that I am able to enjoy the view of the NIU campus. From there I can see almost all the academic buildings as well as the nature that surrounds NIU.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
My advice to anyone who is applying to colleges is to consider every college. By this I mean to not focus on the one that everyone seems to be going to or applying to one just because of its name. Truthfully consider each college and go on campus tours. While I was looking into which college I should apply to, NIU distinguished itself from the rest. While other universities emphasized their location and buildings, NIU emphasized their students. NIU supports all its students, wholeheartedly, without excluding anyone. NIU believes in inclusiveness and diversity. Furthermore, NIU assists its students in any way it can. Rather than giving up on students, NIU finds alternative routes so that all their students achieve their goals. I felt welcomed when I first visited NIU and, without a doubt, believed that this school was the right choice for me.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I am the first in my family to attend a university. It was difficult in the beginning since I did not have anyone I could learn from. One thing that I had to learn to do differently is being organized. Before, I never really kept a schedule for my courses and their assignments. Now, I create a schedule for what I have to do throughout the day. This has helped me become more focused and organized.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
Some of my hobbies include crocheting, sewing and reading. These hobbies help me recharge after a long day. Spending time with my family has also helped me relax. Self-care is crucial, especially for college students. Therefore, I try to make a habit of relaxing every once in a while.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
I am truly grateful for the opportunities and resources I have been given at NIU. I hope to make everyone proud of who I will become someday.