Omobolanle Wunuken

Omobolanle Wunuken

Omobolanle Wunuken is a rehabilitation counseling graduate student from Nigeria

Hometown: Nigeria

Year: Expected graduation: 2025

Major: Master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling

Why did you choose to attend NIU?
Professor Amanda McCarthy, who was the program coordinator of the rehabilitation counseling program at the time, had a significant influence on my choice of NIU. While I had initially applied to two other institutions, my introduction to NIU occurred during my research into top-rated schools for rehabilitation counseling. Dr. McCarthy's exceptional support and responsiveness were truly remarkable. She provided all the assistance I needed, promptly answered my inquiries about the program and the school and offered unwavering support. It was during this interaction that I realized that having such supportive and kind instructors was all that truly mattered to me.

What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them?  How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
I've had the privilege of being awarded three scholarships. These scholarships included a graduate teaching assistantship, an International Student Ambassador Scholarship and a scholarship from the College of Health and Human Sciences to attend the Health in Entrepreneurship event held in Chicago on October 13-14, along with a cash prize. The latter was awarded to me after participating in the CHHS Health in Entrepreneurship Research Video Contest in September. These scholarships made a significant impact on my experience as an international student at NIU. They not only eased the financial burden of my college education, but also provided me with invaluable opportunities. The International Student Ambassador Scholarship allowed me to assist other international students, particularly those with families, by providing essential resources and information to help them settle into their new environment. This became important to me after facing challenges in obtaining information about child care and suitable schools for my children. The scholarship for the Health in Entrepreneurship forum not only provided financial support, but also opened doors for networking and offered engaging educational experiences. One of the key takeaways from the conference was a session with CEOs who shared their insights into the impact of mental health on business. This inspired me to embark on a research paper project focusing on this important topic. Additionally, my role as a graduate teaching assistant has not only provided financial support, but also aligned perfectly with my passion for education and rehabilitation counseling. Assisting in curriculum delivery and guiding fellow students has been personally fulfilling and rewarding.

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 wanted to be a vocational rehabilitation counselor. I am pursuing that as a major.

What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
I’m pursuing a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling. My passion for helping people and my dad, who was visually impaired, influenced my decision to study rehabilitation counseling.

What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
NIU boasts a remarkable level of diversity, which is truly wonderful. The faculty members here are incredibly supportive, going above and beyond to help students reach their goals.

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?
As a former president of the Rehabilitation Counseling Student Association, I connected with peers and professionals in rehabilitation counseling. Now, as an international student ambassador and an international student myself who arrived with my family, I deeply understand the importance of a smooth transition. This role, aiding fellow international students, especially those with families, is incredibly meaningful to me, as it directly impacts their academic success and personal adjustment.

What NIU offices, departments or resources have helped you feel safe, supported and successful? And how?
International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) at NIU has been an invaluable resource for me as an international student, especially during my initial days at NIU. They have provided me with essential support and guidance, making my transition to NIU much smoother. Additionally, student organizations like the Rehabilitation Counseling Student Association (RCSA) have been instrumental in providing resources and information. Serving as the past president of RCSA not only gave me a leadership role, but also offered fantastic networking opportunities. I had the privilege to coordinate and invite guest speakers from various vocational rehabilitation organizations, including Shirley Ryan ABILITYLAB, Edward Hines VA Hospital and DRC, which greatly enriched my understanding of the field. NIU Career Services has also been instrumental in my academic and career journey. They have provided valuable support in various aspects. The one-on-one career counseling sessions have helped me clarify my career goals, and their professional development workshops have enhanced my skills.

Omobolanle Wunuken with others in the International Student Ambassador Program
Omobolanle Wunuken with other students in the International Student Ambassador Program

Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
Professor Daniel Boutin teaches REHB 682, Theories and Techniques of Counseling People with Disabilities. I'm particularly impressed by his teaching style. The course explores various theorists' unique approaches and techniques in counseling individuals with disabilities, emphasizing how to apply these concepts in our personal lives.

How have you benefited by attending class regularly?
Attending class regularly has been incredibly beneficial for me. Firstly, it has significantly enhanced my understanding of the course material. The consistent exposure to lectures, discussions and demonstrations has allowed me to grasp complex concepts more effectively and build a strong foundation in the subject matter. Furthermore, being an active participant in class discussions and engaging with my classmates has been invaluable. Hearing different perspectives and insights from my peers has broadened my understanding even further. It has exposed me to diverse viewpoints and encouraged me to think critically about the topics we've covered. In addition, attending class regularly has helped me stay organized and disciplined in my study routine. It has provided a structured environment for learning, allowing me to manage my time efficiently and stay on top of assignments and deadlines. Moreover, the interaction with the instructor during class has allowed me to seek clarification on any doubts or questions I may have had. This immediate feedback has been instrumental in my learning process.

Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot is the Holmes Student Center.

What advice would you give to a student who is researching colleges to apply to?
NIU is celebrated for its academic excellence and a steadfast dedication to student success, embodying the ideal qualities every student should seek in an institution.

Why is a college education important to you?
As someone who values lifelong learning, the significance of a college education holds a special place in my journey. It offers a unique opportunity to delve deeper into my chosen field of study and broaden my intellectual horizons. This educational endeavor provides me with a structured environment to refine my critical thinking skills and acquire specialized knowledge. Enrolling in an academic program signifies my ongoing commitment to personal growth and the pursuit of excellence. It's a chance to connect with fellow learners, collaborate with experienced professors and build meaningful networks within my area of interest. Furthermore, earning a college degree represents not only my dedication, but also my adaptability in the face of evolving challenges. Education, irrespective of the stage in life, signifies my passion for acquiring knowledge and exploring new frontiers of understanding.

How do you stay informed about events and services that are available on campus?
As an engaged student at NIU, I prioritize staying informed about campus events and services. I achieve this through a strategic blend of digital and community-based resources. My go-to sources include the NIU Facebook page. Additionally, I keep a vigilant eye on my school email, receiving official announcements directly from NIU. The NIU website serves as a central hub for comprehensive information about events and services. To further enrich my college experience, I actively participate in the Rehabilitation Counseling Student Association (RCSA), a student organization aligned with my academic interests. RCSA provides exclusive insights and updates related to rehabilitation counseling, enhancing my engagement with campus life. This holistic approach ensures that I'm well-connected, informed and actively involved in the vibrant NIU community.

What do you do to relax or recharge?
I like to take long walks, read interesting books and relax with family and friends .

Please tell us about your job and hobbies.
I have the privilege of holding two fulfilling positions. Firstly, as a graduate teaching assistant, I make significant contributions to the rehabilitation counseling department. This includes actively participating in curriculum delivery, diligently grading assignments and providing valuable guidance to my peers. Simultaneously, my role as a graduate research assistant at NIU STEAM Center for P-20 Engagement is equally gratifying. Here, I actively support various STEM initiatives, such as recruiting volunteers for Destination Imagination and STEM Fest and contributing to project evaluations. Additionally, I play a key role in maintaining a well-organized inventory. Outside of my professional responsibilities, I derive immense pleasure from taking leisurely walks, reading my Bible before delving into autobiographies of remarkable leaders and engaging in the creative outlet of journal writing. I also enjoy the fun and camaraderie of bowling, as well as indulging in my passion for music and singing, adding to the richness of my life beyond academia.

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