Caroline Melsa is a rehabilitation and disability services major from Naperville, IL
Hometown: Naperville, IL
Year: Expected graduation: May 2022
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
Growing up, I always wanted to do something with animals, specifically horses, so naturally I wanted to be a veterinarian. Now, I am pursuing a major that is different but still will allow me to combine two of my passions in life: helping others and working around horses.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
My major, rehabilitation and disability services, will allow me to work with all types of individuals wherever they are in their life journey. It also serves as a prerequisite for my future career of occupational therapy, where I will be able to combine working with horses and helping people into a type of therapy called hippotherapy. My minor in kinesiology also will help to give me a leg up to understanding how the human body moves, which will be beneficial to occupational therapy.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
One of the biggest things that I have found pleasantly surprising about NIU is how much the professors and instructors care about their students. I have had several instructors who have made time for me outside of class so that I could ask questions and better understand the material that was being covered.
How have you connected with other students at NIU?
I have formed connections through my classes, extracurricular clubs and activities, and my job at the Recreation Center. Being able to interact with other students who have similar likes, as well other interests has given me a chance to open my mind to the ideas of others and find other activities that may be of interest to me.
Are you involved in any student organizations or extra-curricular activities? If so, which ones? How have they added to your experience as a Huskie?
I am a member of the equestrian club. Being a part of this club has given me so many incredible opportunities, not only to meet other individuals who share a love of horses, but to be able to compete against other colleges in the region riding horses. It has also given to the chance to learn how to be more of leader, having been given a position on the board as the secretary.
I also have a job at the Recreation Center as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Being a part of the recreation team has given me the ability to demonstrate leadership when I am leading group fitness classes as well as doing personal training sessions for other members. It has also given me a way to connect with other individuals who take group fitness classes, want to train, or have questions about the recreation center, machines available, or workouts that they can do.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
Dr. Terence Hodges, who taught my REHB 200 class my first year at NIU, is one of my favorite professors because he kept the class engaged, made the material relatable, and created an environment that allowed me to learn and understand the material.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
I love being outdoors anywhere on campus, so naturally one of my favorite spots on campus is the lagoon. While there are two lagoons on campus, my favorite of the two is the East Lagoon. It's one of my favorites because it is large enough that you can kayak, there's a fire pit that many student organizations use at night, and it is all around a very beautiful place to be.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
Don't be afraid to try new things, even if they are scary. It's okay to miss home. If you get overwhelmed, it's okay to take each day one at a time.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
There are several things that I had to learn how to do differently coming to college. Learning how to study and make friends were two of the most difficult things that I had to learn how to do. With a lot of hard work, I was able to learn what study tactics worked for me, and I was able to get out of my "bubble" and talk to other individuals around campus, in my classes, and whenever I saw people.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I love spending time with my friends and family, spending time at the barn with horses, cooking or being in nature.