#PeopleofNIU Photo by Michelle LaVigne/Creative Services
Hometown: Naperville, IL
Major: Public Health
Stephanie Torres had plans to join the United States Navy. But in her high school senior year, she learned that wasn’t going to work out. She enrolled in the Associate Degree in Nursing program at College of DuPage. There, she got involved right away, joining campus leadership programs and student council.
Then she met NIU alum and benefactor, Dennis Barsema. “He came to campus to talk about social entrepreneurship. It inspired me to think beyond the concept of getting a degree, a job, a paycheck, do it again,” she says. She met with Barsema and discussed her goals to help overcome health disparities and lack of education among minorities. He encouraged her to look into NIU. She did.
She changed her major over the summer, landing on Public Health because the environment and health focuses coincided with her long-term goals. Being an advocate appeals to her. “You can make a difference at the patient bedside, but to make positive change to affect thousands of people – that’s a different arena,” she says.
Now happily part of the Huskie family, Torres is a member of NIU’s Student Association and also serves as the student representative on the Illinois Board of Higher Education. She shares this advice with other transfer students: “If you’re feeling the lack of community, get involved. It’s key,” she says. “If there isn’t an organization for you, create your own.”