We Day Experience – Using My Story to Inspire Others

Year in School: Senior
Major: Music Performance
Hometown: Chicago, IL

It is an understatement to say being a part of WeDay was probably one the greatest and most unreal experiences of my life. It was the moment I stepped out of my mom’s car and heard the enormous crowd of 18,000 youth roaring in excitement from the parking lot, that I finally realized this dream was actually coming true. As I take a moment to reflect on this journey, I can’t express how influential NIU has been on my development as a social entrepreneur and most importantly as a person.


During my time at NIU, I was exposed to things that I would have never had the chance to see if I didn’t choose to work towards a higher education at this institution.  Our campus surrounded me with student leaders who were intelligent, talented and were part of various organizations with a mission much larger than the individual person. Growing up in Chicago, I wasn’t exposed to this on an everyday basis; being in this environment made me think about the importance of service, mentoring and advocating for positive change.

During my junior year at NIU, some of my friends informed me about the Community Leadership and Civic Engagement (CLCE) program and how it was extremely unique. After a conversation with President Baker, I decided to become a CLCE minor and I can honestly say that it was probably one of the best decisions I ever made at NIU. Being a part of this program gave me such a positive energy about school because it gave me the opportunity to work in my purpose. It was amazing to see that everything I was learning in the classroom, could be immediately translated to the organizations I was involved in outside of the classroom. CLCE not only prepares you to work in the nonprofit field, but it prepares you to be an asset in any field!

I remember walking in the All State Arena for WeDay and immediately, their staff escorted me to the dressing room. On our fast walk to the green room, I glanced past the dressing rooms of Tyrese Gibson, Lupe Fiasco and Jennifer Hudson, but we couldn’t stop. Then, I made it to a hallway where I saw Common giving a long speech to a group of youth, but the staff kept moving me along. Then, I eventually ran into President Baker, standing in full support of me. At that moment, I stopped! I stopped the staff who were pressing to get me to the make-up room and told them that it was important for me to thank him for his support of me throughout my college journey. He was more than just the president of NIU, he was more than just a mentor, he was like family – not just him but the whole university, the students, faculty and staff. It was this family that has nurtured me and given me the courage to stand in front of over 18,000 young students at WeDay and use my story to inspire others to change the world.

Learn more about Randiss’ We Day experience 
Preparation for We Day
The We Day Experience – You Can Do Anything

Learn more about Community Leadership and Civic Engagement
The Making of the Remember Project

Randiss Hopkins

Written by Randiss Hopkins