Solaya Sirivong

Solaya Sirivong

Solaya Sirivong is a business administration and management major from Vientiane, Laos

Hometown: Vientiane, Laos

Year: Expected graduation: 2026

What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
My journey with NIU scholarships began in high school, when I was honored to be selected as a youth ambassador for the Southeast Asian Youth Leadership Program (SEAYLP). This life-changing exchange program was hosted by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at NIU in 2019. A new chapter unfolded a year later when I discovered the SEAFellow Undergraduate Scholarship, an exclusive opportunity for SEAYLP alumni. The program left an indelible mark on me, and the scholarship became the catalyst for my return to NIU. The financial support provided by the scholarship has not only made my dream of returning to NIU a reality, but has also profoundly impacted my overall college experience. It has allowed me to focus on my academic pursuits and actively engage in the vibrant NIU community, shaping my educational journey in ways I could have only imagined.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
I'm currently studying business administration and management. Growing up, I always followed my mom around. She works in real estate, so I wanted to delve into fields related to real estate, drawing inspiration from those childhood memories.

What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I'm double minoring in business innovation and entrepreneurship and Southeast Asian studies. I chose these because they align with my interests and offer a well-rounded perspective on my academic journey.

What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
The most pleasantly surprising aspect of my NIU experience has been the incredibly supportive community. NIU provides resources that aid both personal and professional growth. The diverse array of student organizations has been a revelation, encouraging not only me but every student to step out of their comfort zone and forge meaningful connections with others.

How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I've connected with fellow students mainly through student organizations. When we share common goals and interests, it creates deeper bonds and makes studying and forming friendships more enjoyable.

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?
Absolutely! I'm the treasurer for the Management and Business Administration Student Advisory Board (MBSAB) and also mentoring in the Management Mentoring Program this semester. It's a great way to contribute to the community and help others grow, both professionally and socially.

What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you feel safe, supported and successful? And how?
My go-to for feeling supported at NIU is my advisor. She's always there with the advice I need, whether it's about classes, my degree path or just general college tips.

What Honors Program opportunities or support have helped you get closer to your academic or career goals so far?
The Honors Program has been a game-changer. From study lounges to fun outings like Six Flags, it's a great stress-reliever. The scholarships keep me motivated to make the most of the program's resources.

What do you enjoy the most about the Honors Program?
The best part of the Honors Program is the friendships I've formed with fellow students.

Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
Karah Osterburg is one of my favorite professors. I've had her for OMIS 259 and UBUS 223. Her teaching is solid, and she's incredibly supportive. I can always go to her with questions, and she's more than happy to help me succeed in class.

How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
Regular class attendance gives me the chance to ask questions and sometimes even snag unexpected extra credit.

Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My go-to spots are the Holmes Student Center and the library. The library's atmosphere helps me focus on studying, especially with other students doing the same.

What advice would you give to a student who is researching colleges to apply to?
Trust your gut. When you feel that "this is my home away from home," you're onto something special.

Why is a college education important to you?
College is more than classes and degrees for me — it's where I discover myself, make lasting connections and embrace growth by learning from mistakes.

What strategies do you use to manage your time between the responsibilities of school, work, friends and family?
I keep things on track with weekly to-do lists and calendars. Communicating my availability helps me balance school, work, and time with friends and family without missing a beat.

How do you stay informed about events and services that are available on campus?
I make it a daily habit to check my student email and NIU's social media, so I'm always in the know about the exciting events happening on campus each week.

What do you do to relax or recharge?
To relax and recharge, I love listening to music, taking naps and watching movies. Hanging out with friends is always great, but my favorite recharge is calling my family back home — it's the best way for me to unwind.

Please tell us about your job and hobbies.
I'm currently working two jobs on campus with NIU Housing and Residential Services, serving as a community advisor and desk assistant. It's more than just a job; it's my way of contributing to the vibrant campus community!

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