Audrey Ledermann is a transfer human development and family studies major from Crystal Lake, IL
Hometown: Crystal Lake, IL
Year: Anticipated graduation year: 2021
What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
The financial support I have received has provided me with the opportunity to attend NIU and allowed my academic endeavors to remain my number one priority.
Upon transferring in 2019, I was awarded the NIU Transfer Scholarship and AIM High TR Excellence Scholarship. During summer 2020, I was a recipient of the Student Engagement Fund (SEF) at NIU. I was awarded this scholarship for my participation in a faculty-mentored research project titled "Technoference in Parent-Child Interactions and Child Language Development." I also received a scholarship from Gateways to Opportunity in fall 2020. I became eligible for this scholarship through working toward my degree in child development and being actively employed within the field of early care and education. I am also proud to have received the Roxanne Isenhart Scholarship for Nutrition and Child Development.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
For as long as I can remember, I have known that I wanted to work with children. I did not know which major would lead me down that path, but sure enough, I found it at NIU!
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
My major is human development and family studies, child development. My emphasis of study is parenting and infancy. I chose this course of study to explore my passion for working with young children and learning how to best educate and support their families.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
I have found NIU to be an incredibly inclusive community. I am proud to attend a university that celebrates diversity and advocates for human rights.
How have you connected with other students virtually to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I use Microsoft Teams to collaborate on group projects and study with my classmates. I attend weekly meetings held by NIU's Student Council on Family Relations via Microsoft Teams. I have been given the opportunity to form new friendships through this organization even while we convene online.
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?
As a member of the University Honors Program, I am offered a greater pool of electives to choose from, including honors seminars. These courses challenge me to strengthen my critical thinking skills and collaborate with like-minded students. Through the Honors Program, I was connected with the Family Service Agency in DeKalb, and I completed an externship there during winter 2020. This program has not only added to my experience as a Huskie, but also prepared me with valuable skills for my life after graduation.
Some of my favorite experiences at NIU have been times in which I was invited to speak with other students about the human development and family studies program. I have participated in student panels welcoming prospective and new students, and led tours of the Child Development and Family Center on campus. I was also given the platform to share my NIU experience on the School of Family and Consumer Science's phonecast in March 2020.
I began participating in a faculty-mentored research project titled "Technoference in Parent-Child Interactions and Child Language Development" in January of 2020. I was awarded compensation for my efforts through the Student Engagement Fund during the summer semester. With the addition of this experience on my resume, I feel that I am a better candidate for future employment within my field. Undergraduate research has allowed me to advance my interpersonal skills and collaborate with a team of researchers. I was fortunate to be offered the opportunity to work alongside a faculty member within my academic program, which allowed for mentorship, professionalism and networking. I gained knowledge in searching for credible sources, comprehending published research findings, compiling a literature review, and analyzing both qualitative and quantitative data, which will prepare me for my future studies in graduate school.
I am currently serving on NIU's Student Council on Family Relations as vice president and secretary. During our bimonthly meetings, we explore areas of research, professional development and self-care within the helping profession.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
One of my favorite professors is Dr. Melissa Clucas Walter. I have had the opportunity to get to know Dr. Walter through HDFS 231: Observation and Assessment of Young Children; HDFS 331: Inclusive Program Planning for Infants, Toddlers, and their Families; and an independent study on Early Intervention and Home Visiting. She was also the faculty member who welcomed me into her research project. Dr. Walter is not only a positive role model, but a mentor as well.
Another of my favorite professors is Dr. Sherry Fang. I have had the pleasure of taking HDFS 330: Principles of Guiding Young Children and HDFS 438: Working with Ethnically Diverse Children and Families with her. Dr. Fang fosters a classroom environment built upon respect, integrity and cultural humility.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot on campus is the Child Development and Family Center. This center functions as a resource for the community as well as a place for students to learn. Many of the courses within my major program require me to complete observations, assessments and participatory experiences within these classrooms. I have been employed as a student worker at the CDFC since January 2020. In addition, I am completing my internship experience in the infant classroom during spring 2021, which is the final step to earning my undergraduate degree. I am thankful for the opportunity to gain valuable experience within my profession without having to leave campus.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
I would encourage a prospective student to speak with current students and alumni of the colleges they are considering. You can find testimonials online, attend a student panel or attend a campus tour. I would also advise a prospective student to especially examine the quality of the academic program for their intended major.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
Time management is one of the most important skills to practice during college. I feel that high school mandates a specific, consistent schedule, whereas college offers flexibility in course offerings and extracurriculars. There is more freedom to choose how you want to spend your time during college, which requires great discipline. I had to quickly learn how to plan my schedule with consideration for my daily commute, the time of day in which I am most productive, and my academic priorities.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
In my free time, I enjoy listening to books on Audible, as well as podcasts. I also enjoy crafting and recently learned how to crochet.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
I plan to attend graduate school after completing my bachelor's degree. I am especially interested in exploring the field of infant-toddler mental health.