Vilaya Sirivong is a management major from Vientiane, Laos
Hometown: Vientiane, Laos
Year: Expected graduation: 2023
What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
I received the SEAFellow four-year tuition scholarship from the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (2019), an NIU Alumni Association Merit Scholarship (2022), the Richard D. Brown and Omar G. Voss Leadership Scholarship (2022), the Robert and Catherine Rothkopf Endowed Scholarship (2022), a Pepsi scholarship (2022) and a Forward, Together Forward Scholarship (2021). The financial support has allowed me to attend college abroad. It has also allowed me to focus more on developing my skills, learning effectively in class, representing the Huskie community and enjoying the college experience, since I do not have to worry about working as much.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
My major is management. As a senior looking forward to my future in business, I am eager to continue my growth as a leader by serving communities. I look forward to empowering others as a social entrepreneur by building new businesses and an education center for underprivileged children to pursue their educational and career goals.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
I’m always surprised by how diverse the NIU community is. I get to meet students, staff, faculty and alumni from many places around the world. Every time I meet someone new, they always share cultures, traditions, values and experiences I can learn from.
How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I am actively involved on campus, and I seek to help other students in need. I get to meet new people, be a part of their circle and help them in any way I can. I have also been helped with classes by other students, and I’m very grateful for the experience.
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’m the president of the Management and Business Administration Student Advisory Board, the facilitator and mentor of the Management Mentoring Program, a member of the College of Business Dean’s Student Advisory Board, an Honors floor community advisor and a mentor for the Student-Faculty Links Mentoring Program. I’m also the former president of Circle K International, the vice president of the National Society of Leadership and Success, the vice president of the Southeast Asia Club and the outreach coordinator for Camp Kesem. All of these experiences allow me to contribute to my community and be a part of creating a more meaningful college experience for other students and myself. They have also provided me with opportunities to share what I know and learn from others.
What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you succeed? And how?
During my freshman year, I often went to the Supplemental Instruction office for my math class and the University Writing Center for my English class. I have also become a part of the University Honors Program and seek advice from the management faculty regarding my career plan.
What Honors Program opportunities or support have helped you get closer to your academic or career goals so far?
The Dennis Barsema Leadership Bootcamp is so far my favorite honors engaged program since it has taught me what leadership is really about. I’ll always remember and refer back to that session when I need guidance with my leadership roles.
What do you enjoy the most about the Honors Program?
I love being in the Honors House, where I get to help other honors students with academic and personal matters. The honors trips have also been very fun!
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
My favorite professor is Dr. Bethany Cockburn because she is the friendliest person, cares for her students dearly and can always simplify complex concepts for students. She teaches the managerial negotiation class.
How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
I have benefited greatly from attending class regularly since I can ask the professors or my classmates any questions that I have. I can also share my opinions and hear from others, which has helped me to expand my perspectives in the business world for when I start my career.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
Dad’s Pond behind Barsema Hall is my favorite spot because on a sunny day, there is always a little rainbow shining from the pond, which has made many of my days in the past.
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
I would advise students to apply for scholarships and financial aid. I empathize with those who have to work hard while in school. I would love to see more of us use what NIU has to offer and have a chance to enjoy the college experience a little more.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I came from Laos to study at NIU and through the years, I have learned to see the world from many perspectives and live independently. I have witnessed how a diverse, supportive and open community can positively impact a person's life, and I strive to take those values with me wherever I go.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I usually listen to music, go out with my friends and volunteer to recharge.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
I first came to NIU when I was 16 through the Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program.