Cody West is a transfer English major from DeKalb, IL
Hometown: DeKalb, IL
Year: Expected graduation: 2023
Transfer from: Kishwaukee Community College
Why did you choose to attend NIU?
My late mother was a professor here.
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've always had strong artistic impulses — a need to tell stories. For the longest time, I assumed that I was going to pursue illustration and tell my stories through images. Though I ended up shifting gears to telling stories through language, my career path now is still very much motivated by that need to create. No matter where I end up, I know I will be a creator.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I'm majoring in English, specifically in writing. I already had a knack for putting words to the page, so I wanted to refine that skill into something that I can use throughout my life. My hope is to be able to have a career writing novels.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
I am constantly floored by the smarts of my peers; the people I have met here have nourished my life and expanded my worldview. Since coming here and coming out of my shell, I haven't spent a day at NIU feeling alone. In particular, my co-workers at the University Writing Center have made wonderful friends and colleagues.
How have you connected with other students to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
As I said, I have come out of my shell since starting my schooling at NIU. More than anything, I've learned that my peers are excited to connect with me, as long as I take a little bit of initiative. In addition, some of my classes — namely my writing workshops — have ended up with Discord servers on which we can all connect and further discuss the works from class.
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 don't know if this necessarily counts, but my job at the University Writing Center has given me a ton of opportunities to learn about the inner workings of the school and to meet skilled colleagues.
What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you succeed? And how?
I will always call the English department my home. The students and faculty I have met in my career as an English student have been helpful and so, so supportive. I believe that all of the people I've met in the English department have believed thoroughly in my prospects for the future.
Are there transfer-specific resources, offices or services that you use to help you succeed at NIU?
Since NIU and Kishwaukee College are so closely entwined, my transferring experience was relatively seamless. I never had any doubt that coming from one to the other would go smoothly.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
This is such a hard choice; all of my English professors have boosted me up in so many different ways! I will say, though, that some of the most fun I've had at NIU was while in ENGL 398 with Molly McNett. That semester, the topic for the course was nature writing, so we got to take trips to the Lorado Taft campus out in Oregon to do writing exercises in the woods. I'm also in her Fiction II class right now. She has been incredibly supportive of my writing career and has offered me a lot of insight into how to further my craft.
How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
I always learn by actively putting myself in the classroom setting. Then again, I'm an old-fashioned sort, and I swear by things like handwriting my notes. If I hadn't been in my classes on the regular, then I probably wouldn't have made as many good friends!
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
The student and faculty lounge in Reavis Hall is my go-to for when I need to work or relax. Thanks to Sigma Tau Delta — our chapter of the English Honor Society — there are lots of creature comforts in the lounge. Most importantly to me, though, is that there's a kettle there, so I can sit and make myself a cup of tea whenever I want.
What advice would you give to a student who is researching colleges to apply to?
As someone who grew up in the DeKalb, going to NIU was a pretty easy pick. It's always good to find a school that fits the sort of lifestyle that you most want; you'll already be so out of your comfort zone with college that you don't need to completely overwhelm yourself! Make sure to tour not just the campuses of the places you're considering, but the areas around them, to see if you fit in.
Why is a college education important to you?
Education in general is important to me! However, I think a lot of people don't have the room to really flourish in their high school years. Going to college is the best way to continue to learn while giving yourself space to really discover who you are, free from others' expectations.
What strategies do you use to manage your time between the responsibilities of school, work, friends and family?
At the start of every week, I write a list of all of the things I need to get done for classes. I also make an effort to keep one day a week as free as I possibly can. For me, it's Fridays. I avoid having classes on Fridays and only sometimes have work. That way, I always have a day of the week I can default to when planning for things outside of work and education.
How do you stay informed about events and services that are available on campus?
Of course, a lot of information on a campus like this happens through word of mouth. I've also found that since the Northern Star started to send out their daily email updates, I've had a much better idea of what's going on around campus. I'll usually find something that interests me among the daily headlines.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I love to play video games. My tastes range wide, but my biggest comfort genre is the roguelike. I love a game that I can play over and over again, getting a different experience each time. Plus, anything that demands a lot of technical skill will be great for keeping my mind focused on my controller and not on the stressors of the outside world.
Please tell us about your job and hobbies.
I've talked plenty about my job at the University Writing Center, but I also work at the DeKalb Bath & Body Works! My co-workers there are an absolute delight, and I have a blast selling smelly things to the public. As for hobbies, I never fully left behind art, so I often sit down with a dip pen and some watercolors when I want to make something that doesn't need any words.