Mariela Ortiz is a health sciences major from Woodstock, IL
Hometown: Woodstock, IL
Year: Expected graduation: 2022
Major: Health sciences
Transfer from: Harper College
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
As an adolescent, I considered becoming a lawyer. I started working in the dental field right out of high school and really grew to love it. I pursued a career as a dental hygienist and have been practicing for almost five years. I have now gone back to school for a degree in health sciences to become more involved in my community.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
My major is health sciences. I wanted to remain in the health field, but not specifically in dental. This way, I’ll be able to broaden my knowledge of health and wellness in administrative, community and personal avenues.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
I have really enjoyed how interactive my instructors have been so far. Communicating with them has been very easy, and I love that they respond quickly when asked for help. This was not the case at previous institutions, and it was really an impediment to learning and engaging in the courses.
How have you connected with other students virtually to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
My online program of study is off campus and asynchronous, so I have not had the need to work with other classmates yet. Interaction has been limited due to our busy schedules, but it was worked out well so far.
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?
I just recently joined the University Honors Program and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS), so I haven’t done much with them yet. I am very proud to be a part of them and grateful for the opportunity.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
I have found all of my instructors in health and human sciences to be great, as they have consistently shown excitement for their courses (especially Dr. Shondra Loggins Clay and Professor Lynn Dykstra). I am also taking PHHE 295, and my instructor, Professor Mary Shumaker, is enthusiastic and encouraging.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
I would recommend choosing a major they are truly interested in, rather than something they think is easy or that was recommended to them. Completing coursework is much more enjoyable and attainable when you have an actual interest in the field.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
Communicating with professors and classmates online and through email rather than in person.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I read a book, watch a series or hang out with my family.