A Letter to a Huskie

Year in School: Junior
Major: Electrical Engineering
Hometown: Cary, IL

Dear first-year Huskie,

I know you are probably really busy meeting tons of people, going out with your friends on the weekend, and planning who to live with next year. As a third-year student, I would like to tell you that there are way, way, way more things that you should think about as well. Two years ago, I was in your shoes, and I too worried about what I was going to do over the weekend. With the help of multiple mentors and positive role models, I was able to realize that there are many things that came included with my college education. Today, I would like to tell you about those things that you might or might not know about, and hopefully, I can get you to realize why they are important.

Getting involved:
By now, you are probably sick and tired of people telling you to get involved, but if so many people are telling you to do something, you might want to look into it. If you haven’t already, you should go to the Student Involvement & Leadership Development (SILD) home page and navigate their website for opportunities you might be interested in such as student clubs, student government, Greek life, etc. Getting involved taught me a great deal about the university, my peers and myself. I also learned about my leadership style and what kind of leader I wanted to be. Getting involved is extremely important because not only will you grow as a leader, you will also learn many valuable skills that employers and graduate schools are looking for. Trust me, the real world is super competitive, whatever it is that you want to do, you will have competition, and by being involved, you will make yourself a much more competitive candidate.

Getting out of your comfort zone:
You’re probably thinking, “I’ve been doing that since I got here, so I’m good.” Please allow me to disagree with you. Getting out of your comfort zone does not simply mean meeting new people and/or trying something new. Getting out of your comfort zone also means learning and experiencing other cultures, religions and students groups. Have you ever seen those flyers on campus for cultural events? What about those addressing political issues from a group that you do not identify with? What about those about a fraternity/sorority you are not familiar with? Don’t ignore those flyers.  Consider attending some of these events. Not only will you learn about other groups of people, you will also learn about the REAL WORLD, and how diverse it really is. You might even find a group of people that you might have never thought you would be part of.

Doing Research:
NIU is a research institution, take full advantage of that. I personally regret not doing research during my first two years of college, but fortunately, I will be doing research this semester and that is very exciting. No matter where you go, having research experience will be a major plus as it proves that you can be a contributing member of our society.

Using your resource centers:
They are all over campus for one reason: to help YOU be successful. Whether it is the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning or the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center (formerly the Women’s Resource Center), there are tons of places on campus that you can get help from. You will not only save yourself tons of time by visiting these centers, you will create great relationships that will make your college experience an extremely rewarding one.

In conclusion, there are many other things I would like to suggest, but I think these four are great ways to get your college career started. Don’t forget what you came to school for. Don’t forget your dreams. Don’t forget to work towards achieving those dreams. You have the power to shape your future, take control of it.

A fellow Huskie
Luis Lopez

Luis Lopez

Written by Luis Lopez

I chose NIU because I found it to be the right size and the right distance from home for me. I truly felt like I would fit in when I came to visit and that made my decision much easier. NIU has definitely exceeded my expectations in a way that I find it hard to believe myself. Although I came here for the academics, I found an endless number of opportunities for me to get involved and enhance my education. I am very thankful to have taken advantage of these opportunities.

Website: http://www.niu.edu/engagedlearning/northern_light/14-15_nla_participants/luis_lopez.shtml