Yousuf Khan is a biological sciences major from Glendale Heights, IL
Hometown: Glendale Heights, IL
Year: Expected graduation: 2024
Major: Biological sciences
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
When I was a little kid, I always wanted to be a fireman. As I grew up, I no longer wanted to be a fireman, but still knew that I wanted a career where I could help others. My mom always emphasized the importance of empathy and listening to others. I feel like both of those lessons were essential to me deciding to study marketing as well as take pre-medicine courses at NIU. My goal is to become a psychiatrist and also be a part of mental health advocacy campaigns, which is why I am doing both marketing and pre-medicine. So, although I no longer plan to become a fireman, I still aspire to help others.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I am studying biological sciences and marketing. I feel like I'm a very empathetic person and I like working with people. I want to become a psychiatrist because I'm passionate about mental health. I also feel like my personality matches with that career. I'm studying marketing because I've seen the effects of massive health campaigns against smoking and underage driving. I want to have the knowledge to participate in similar campaigns for mental health advocacy.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
Something that is pleasantly surprising at NIU is how collaborative students are. Students at NIU are striving to do well and willing to support other students in doing well, too. At NIU, I've never felt that students were trying to put down others to get ahead. If you ask anyone from a class to study with you or help you with something, you're almost guaranteed a yes. Students look out for each other, which is really nice.
How have you connected with other students virtually to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
As a freshman this year, meeting people while having online classes was definitely a struggle at first. However, my involvement with OHANA helped me meet people. The virtual OHANA meetings are where I met some of my best friends on campus. I think getting involved and attending different virtual meetings was essential in me meeting people.
Messaging people from classes to hang out was awkward at first, since the only time I talked to them is through a chat box, but I feel like that became the norm this year. While that felt awkward, I'm glad I did it because it helped me meet people.
Usually I'll play virtual games with my friends or people I meet. We'll hop onto Zoom or Discord and play games like Jack in the Box or Agar.io. It's been different than in person, but I have still had so much fun meeting new people.
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 with OHANA, Research Rookies, Pre-Professional Association and New Hall Community Council. I am also an orientation leader. My involvement with student organizations, especially OHANA, was essential to me meeting so many new people. Additionally, in OHANA I've gotten to meet people from different backgrounds and identities, which has been very valuable to me. I really enjoy my involvement in Research Rookies because I've gotten to interact with my faculty mentor and the graduate students in her lab. This has really broadened my horizons as to what academic research looks like. I have really enjoyed being involved with New Hall Community Council because I've been able to plan events for Huskies to meet each other.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
One of my favorite professors is Professor Bethia King. Professor King is invested in all of her students. She's approachable during office hours, and her passion for the topics she teaches encourages her students to be invested. Additionally, she makes her lectures detailed as well as very interesting, which is hard to do. Professor King is also accommodating and cares about her students' success beyond the classroom.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot on campus is the Holmes Student Center. At the HSC, there are always people to talk to and meet. Everyone feels more isolated due to COVID-19 but going to the HSC makes it feel like NIU is still bustling. The HSC is perfect because if I need to study, I know I can find a quiet place. If I want to goof around afterwards, I can shoot pool with my friends and hang out.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
The advice I would give to a student applying to college is that it's important to get out of your comfort zone. You might feel like college is too daunting or that you might not fit in, but I think it's important to take a shot anyway. Pushing your boundaries and trying new things is how you grow. There are so many new opportunities to grow, learn and have fun, and they are right outside your comfort zone. Regret is one of the worst feelings in the world, so I recommend pushing past your comfort zone and pursuing goals you didn't even think were possible.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
A big change between high school and college is having to be accountable for everything I do. At college, there's nobody to tell you to make your bed, do your homework, turn in your assignments, make sure to get enough sleep or anything else. You are 100% accountable for everything you do. For me, this has meant that I write down everything I need to do and check them off one by one. I've also had to get used to being more focused when I studied. In high school, there were worksheets or assignments that taught you content. In college, reading the textbook is what teaches the content. I've had to learn to pace myself throughout the week so that I could get all my reading done.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
To relax and recharge, I love to just go outside to eat or take a walk. Walking around the West Lagoon helps me destress. Additionally, hanging out with friends or even studying with friends is always a good time. I'm lucky that my roommate and I are super close, so we often eat meals together, which is a nice break from classes and studying. I also call my parents and sister whenever I get the chance, and that always makes me feel recharged.