Jahrita McNeal is a nursing major from Crest Hill, IL
Hometown: Crest Hill, IL
Year: Expected graduation: 2024
What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
This year, I received the Honors Excellence Award and the Cindi and Earl Rachowicz Expendable Scholarship Fund for Nursing. They both helped to drastically reduce the amount I have to pay out of pocket each semester, and I'm grateful to be a recipient of both.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
My aspiration in life is to become a certified nurse anesthetist, and I've been in progress of meeting that goal. I am CNA certified with two years’ experience. I'm also a phlebotomist technician with two years’ experience, and I’m currently in my second semester of nursing school. I plan to graduate, work in the ICU and eventually apply for anesthesia school.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I am currently majoring in nursing with a minor in Spanish and a minor in family and consumer sciences. I always wanted to either major or minor in Spanish because I took so many classes in high school. I thought, why not use it and advance my skills for the future. I've always had a desire to become a nurse. I really want to make a difference in the lives of my patients and advocate the importance of their health and well-being. I also vow to provide the most personalized care and aid in reforming the health care system.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
I've found that going online for a year during the pandemic opened up different learning styles that I can now use to my advantage.
How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I think I've connected well with other students and people in order to gain friendships. I'm overall an extroverted person, and I love hearing others’ opinions and ideas.
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?
Yes, I am a tutor for student-athletes, and this year marks one year! I've learned so much about learning styles and how patience is so very important when working with other people. I plan on getting more involved on campus by joining other organizations as well.
What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you succeed? And how?
The honors room inside the Campus Life Building has allowed me to be able to print and have documents I needed for classes, which has been so very helpful! I also love having the nursing building off campus in its own area. It allows for us to have a place where we can go to study with peers who have the same major.
What Honors Program opportunities or support have helped you get closer to your academic or career goals so far?
I was able to take an honors class last semester for my nursing class. We were required to do a research brochure, and that was really interesting! I learned about different fields you could go into as a nurse, and it was cool to learn about and research.
What do you enjoy the most about the Honors Program?
I love how the Honors Program has discounts and free printing for students. Not everyone has access to printers, so I love that we have that available. I also like the events that are held just for honors students because it allows us to interact and meet other honors students.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
My two favorite professors are Rhoda Jefferson, who taught clinical last semester, and Theresa Annis, who taught Health Assessment. Both women were amazing professors and knew how to keep students engaged. They were also both super-sweet and easy to talk to about anything!
How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
I love attending classes in person regularly because it gets me in the habit of getting ready and being productive throughout the day. Sometimes you just need some different scenery.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot on campus is probably Founders Library. I always go there to study and get some quiet time. I love that there are rooms with huge whiteboards and lots of desk space we can utilize.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
I would say, don't be scared to get out of your comfort zone to try new things. I would also emphasize the importance of what you're there for and to keep going no matter how hard it may be!
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
Entering college, I definitely had to learn how to prioritize and use better time management.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
To relax I really like to go to the gym, listen to music and catch up on movies and TV shows. I also like to go shopping and get a fresh manicure or pedicure.
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