Olivia Monteiro is a higher education and student affairs graduate student, majored in art history as an undergraduate
Hometown: Waterman, IL
Year: Expected graduation: 2022
Major: Master's degree program in higher education and student affairs
Undergraduate degree: Art history
What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
I received the Operating Staff Council Dependent Scholarship, the NIU Huskie Legacy Award, an NIU academic scholarship, the Joyce L. Marcus Endowed Art History Scholarship and the Antinette “Toni” Keller Scholarship. I received many of these scholarships based on academic merit. All of these scholarships helped me to accomplish my goal of graduating with my bachelor's degree debt-free. I am very grateful that I was given these opportunities. Currently, I have the Operating Staff Council Dependent Scholarship going toward my graduate school tuition.
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 little, I thought being a veterinarian was my ultimate career choice. While I still like animals, I am too nervous to work with them. Unfortunately, that means I did not choose to pursue a degree to become a veterinarian. Instead, I majored in art history at NIU and am now pursuing an M.S.Ed. in higher education and student affairs.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
When I chose art history as an undergraduate, I had goals of working in a museum setting, but quickly realized this was not the right path for me. After graduating, I chose to continue my education at NIU with the higher education and student affairs program because I felt a calling to pursue a career in higher education administration. This calling probably came from a desire to help students who were unsure of their path on campus, much like I was.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
Something I found surprisingly pleasant about NIU was the homey environment that I still feel whenever I am on campus. There has never been a moment on campus when I didn't feel that I was at home.
How have you connected with other students virtually to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
It has been an interesting semester, to say the least. I started a new degree program that was not meant to be online, and I was definitely worried that I would not make any friends. However, to my surprise, I was able to make fast connections through texting, GroupMe and other communication resources outside the classroom.
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?
During my undergraduate years, I was a part of the Boey Honors Program and graduated from it with upper division honors. Being a part of that program was a blessing, and I am so grateful to be one of the first graduates from it. Additionally, it gave me the opportunity to be in the graduate assistantship I am in now, working with the Boey Honors Program at the Asian American Resource Center. I was also involved in the University Chorus for most of my undergraduate experience. I actually met some of my closest friends there!
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
One of my very favorite professors is Chris Nissen. He taught Italian and Italian Renaissance History (he has since retired) and was one of the most encouraging professors I had. I learned so much from him that I ended up taking five of his courses as an undergraduate.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot on campus is Altgeld Hall. However, it isn't only because of the beautiful architecture or history. I love Altgeld because I spent a lot of my time in the building as an undergraduate. Having worked for the central office of Student Affairs all four years, it became a place that gives me a lot of comfort.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
My advice is that it is more than OK to go to a school that is close to home or far away. Whatever they choose, I would tell them that it's totally fine to be nervous but try to join things that are out of your comfort zone. I would also tell them to remember to study and that most professors are more than willing to help.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
When I got to college, I realized that I really needed to study. In high school, I did not have to study or work on homework nearly as much as in my college courses. So, I had to change how I approached my studies and how much time I was dedicating to work, my social life and schoolwork.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
My family is very musical, so creating music with my family is often how we all recharge and relax. In my free time by myself, I like to paint, draw or work on anything that feeds my artistic side.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
I am forever grateful to be a Huskie and love that I have many family members who share this identity. Choosing to be a part of the NIU family was one of the best decisions I have ever made!