Kaelyn Nannini is a biology major from Kinmundy, IL
Hometown: Kinmundy, IL
What is your 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?
I received the Zar Endowed Scholarship in Biology for my academic achievements in the biological sciences department. This support has allowed me to work less and focus more on my classes, which has helped me maintain my 3.97 GPA.
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 really little, I wanted to be what most little kids want to be: something famous like a singer or actor. Once I was old enough to think more about what subjects interested me, I began to like science, and I knew I wanted to study biology. I really liked DNA, so I thought I wanted to be a genetic counselor, because I thought that was the only career related to genetics that I could do other than research. Although I am still interested in genetics and am pursuing a bachelor's degree in biology, I have changed my end goal, as I found a career that is more suited to my interests, which is bioinformatics.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
My major is biological sciences and I am minoring in computer science and chemistry. I have always been interested in biology, but after taking a computer science class during my senior year of high school, I realized I like computer science, too. I was able to find a career that incorporates both my love for biology and computer science, so I decided to focus on biology and hone my skills in computer science. I also believe understanding chemistry will be helpful in my future career, and I happen to enjoy organic chemistry.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
I found that it was surprisingly easy to make friends at NIU. During high school, I didn't really have many close friends, but when I came to NIU, I was able to make friends during my first week who I still communicate with on a regular basis. They have made my college experience amazing.
How have you connected with other students at NIU?
I've mainly connected with other Huskies through the student organizations I've been a part of and through classes we've shared. It's much easier to talk to people when you know you have a shared common interest.
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?
Currently, I'm only involved in undergraduate research and my on-campus job as a Northern Ambassador. Both of these have greatly impacted my college experience, and if I could go back in time, I would choose to do them again. The research I've been a part of has given me real-world experience and has proven to me that bioinformatics is something I want to pursue as my career. Being a Northern Ambassador has given me so many wonderful opportunities, and it's a wonderful feeling to help prospective students.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
One of my favorite professors would have to be Dr. Paul Munger, who was my professor for Organic Chemistry I. One thing I had always been warned of, even by family members who also majored in biology, was that organic chemistry is extremely hard and terrible. Dr. Munger was able to make my organic chemistry experience much easier and more interesting than I had ever imagined. After taking his class, I even found that I enjoyed organic chemistry. Dr. Munger also had a great sense of humor, which made it fun to go to class.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot on campus would be the newly renovated portion of the Holmes Student Center. The construction for the center had begun before I entered NIU, so I had never seen the old center, but the renovations are amazing. It has a very modern look and a lot of study space. It's my favorite place for studying and waiting between classes.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
My advice to prospective students is to apply early. Applying early allows you to fully consider your options and gives you a better chance at receiving scholarships and other financial aid. I ended up waiting until March to apply to NIU, so I missed out on receiving a merit scholarship, despite having met the academic requirements.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
Something I had to learn to do differently is actually studying. During high school, I never studid for any of my tests and was able to do well. Just doing the homework and doing the review in class was enough for me to do well. Once I got to college, I realized that things are a lot more fast-paced than in high school, and the subjects are much more in detail. In many of my courses, each day is a new chapter and a test has around six chapters. In high school, it took weeks to cover one chapter and we had a test on each chapter. Because of the vast difference in complexity and amount of material, I had to learn how to study and how to do it efficiently.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
My favorite way to relax is to spend time with my cat, Kisa.