Why I Love NIU

Aside from just being a place where I take classes and will obtain a degree in May, NIU has become so much more to me. I have had incredible experiences, made lifelong friends, and set myself up to launch my career after graduation. However, in this post, I want to speak about one specific instance that helped me come to realize that NIU is a second home to me.

When I was a freshman, I joined several clubs and organizations right off the bat. I also tried to maintain a workout schedule on top of classes and my other extra curricular activities. I was playing football with friends between Grant and Stevenson towers, and I ended up hurting my knee. After several doctor and a hospital visit, it was concluded that I had torn my ACL and meniscus in my left knee. Basically, I needed surgery and then 6 months of rehab at minimum. As this occurred during my first 8 weeks of school, it was a bit overwhelming.

Also during this time, I was in the process of joining the professional business fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi, an organization from which I have made many of my closest friends. This required traveling back and forth between New Hall and Barsema Hall quite a bit- a 20-25 minute walk, or about 20 by bus if you can get lucky and catch it on time.  During this time, I had to ask quite a few friends for rides to class and to physical therapy, located about 15 minutes off campus. It was then that I realized that many of these people whom I had just met were willing to do anything they could to help.

A few members of Delta Sigma Pi, as well as one of my closest friends from home and my current roommate drove me 2-3 times per week for about 18 weeks during the school year. I did not have a car on campus at this time, and I needed to be able to get back and forth between physical therapy. Between the 4 months of crutches, and 8 in a knee brace, the help and support I received from my then new-found family was incredible. There was even once when I slipped and fell on the ice, and someone I had never met before helped me up, and then carried all of my books to class for me. I never learned his name, but that memory will forever stay with me.

This is just one example of how I have seen Huskie Pride over the last 4 years. I could think of a dozen examples, but perhaps none more exemplify what I mean when I say that I Love NIU. I try to give as much back as I can now as a student, and I will continue to do so as an alumnus of the Department of Marketing, College of Business, and Northern Illinois University.




After watching the Ted Talk and completing the House activity, there is one conclusion that I drew that stood out above the rest: it has been a long time since I have done an actual self reflection and personal inventory. Actually putting everything into writing and seeing all of the thoughts about where I am in life was very refreshing.

Realizing is one thing, but acting on this information is another entirely. Visualizing the most important aspects of my life is important, because it reminds me where I am and how I got here. Looking at aspects of my life that I want to improve helps when it is actually written out.  I plan to use this information to make a 3-6 month plan, a 1-5 year plan, and a 5+ year plan for personal goals I have set for myself.

I also wish to, as the Ted Talk recommended, leave a legacy. This will start with the legacy I hope to leave at NIU, then in my professional career, all the while leaving one in my personal life. I want to focus on the Life Worth Living portion of the house, as I feel that that section encompasses most of the others as well. I hope to use this as a basis for self improvement in all aspects of my life.

Jeff Kamholz



Delta Sigma Pi

The only organization I have been in longer than NLA is Delta Sigma Pi, my professional business fraternity. Delta Sigma Pi is an organization that focuses on improving business students’ careers and personal lives. I joined Delta Sigma Pi in my first semester of my college experience. It was one of the best personal and professional decisions that I made while I was in college.

Being a business major, there are dozens of clubs, organizations, and advisory boards to join. I knew a few people in Delta Sigma Pi (DSP), and I knew that the Dean, Dr. Denise Schoenbachler was one of the faculty advisors. Soon after joining, I knew that I had made the right decision. I met students in all majors in the college of business. Ranging from all 6 departments, I was able to have a network of mentors that allowed me to be successful in my college career.

I enjoy DSP because although it is a professional organization, the people in DSP have become some of my best friends. Not only did I have a lot of professional development opportuntieis, but I also grew socially and as a person because of DSP. I encourage everyone to join several clubs and organizations, and I hope that they are lucky enough to find an organization that they get as much out of as I have from DSP.



Service to NIU as an NLA

During my time as an NLA, I have done everything I possibly could to improve the College of Business and NIU as a whole. I have had experiences in both instances.

In the College of Business, I have been involved with giving tours and hosting and being a part of the Open Houses. As a sophomore, I would give tours to perspective students and their families. This gave me the chance to talk directly to students and reinforce why NIU would be the right choice for them (in most cases). This is one aspect of being an ambassador that I am especially passionate about. College is one of the biggest choices that a high school has ever made. I want to help them make sure that they have all the information they need to make this decision.

On a University level, I do similar work with open houses working for various campus offices. I try to recruit as many high achieving students as I can to NIU as a whole, and also to programs within NIU. I internally have promoted the Northern Lights Ambassadors program, the McKearn program, as well as many college of business organizations as well. I try to get people as involved as they want to be. College can be an incredibly transformational experience; I am passionate about helping students find all the resources and meet the right people for them to be successful.

Overall, I would like to think that I have had a positive impact on many students’ lives during my time at NIU. I have had many student mentors that helped me while I was here; I have tried my hardest to give that back and pass it on to other students. The students I have met here have been inspiring to me and I want to do as much as I can during my last semester and then as an alumni to give back to the College and University that have given so much to me.



Service: An Integral part of the NLA Experience

I have been involved with many service projects during my time at NIU. Many have been through the NLA Program, and some were not. One that really stuck with me and had one of the biggest impacts on me personally was when I hosted a blood drive the first semester of my sophomore. I have been giving blood since I was 16 years old, nearly every 8 weeks, which is the minimum time between donations. I have had several family members receive life-saving blood transfusions, so I try to help out whenever I can. Giving blood is a cause very close to my heart.

I had never been in charge of a community service event before. I tried to promote it as much as I could. According to Heartland and the Red Cross, every donation can save up to 3 lives. The donation facilities ask that at least 15 people donate if possible, to make sure it was worth their time to bring out all the equipment and staff. Halfway through the time that was allotted, there were only 3 donations.

I took to my organizations, hoping to gather as many as I could at the last minute. I ended up walking into a random classroom full of 300 people to try to get some attention toward the blood drive. By the end of the day, we had 23 people donate. Heartland said it was a few of the busiest hours they had ever seen. Potentially, 69 people received blood transfusions, and I would like to think that lives were saved because of what we were able to accomplish.

As I mentioned earlier, I have had family members saved by anonymous donors before. Hopefully, our efforts and the 23 donations were able to do the same for other families. This is one of my favorite memories of NIU, because I felt like I actually made a tangible difference with that project.



What I am thankful for

At this time of year especially, personal reflection about what we are thankful for is important. After some personal reflection, I have 3 categories of things for which I am exceptionally thankful: family, necessities/luxuries , and the opportunities to succeed and achieve.

The most important aspect in my life is my family. In this sense, I do not mean necessarily blood related, but just those whom I have grown close with and would do anything for. My parents have been the two most influential people in my life literally from day one to present. From raising me and teaching my life lessons to providing food, shelter, and unconditional love, I could not have asked for better role models.

Another aspect for which I am thankful are the basic necessities and luxuries that I have been fortunate enough to have. I have never had to worry about where my next glass of clean water or meal would come from. I have never had those struggles; this is something I feel that I forget from time to time and it is important to remember especially now. Some will not eat on Thanksgiving, while I will sit in a warm house surrounded by my loved ones. Being reminded of this and developing an attitude of giving back whenever possible has been very important in my life.

A third aspect is the opportunities I have been afforded to succeed. I went to a Catholic grade school, which I feel set me on the path I am today and made me who I am. After attending an incredible high school, I had the opportunity to attend NIU. Aside from my family and personal influences, choosing to attend NIU has had the greatest impact on my life. From day 1, the opportunities I have had here set me up for what will be the next chapter of my life, both personally and professionally.

I can’t wait for this next chapter, and I have my family, friends, and NIU to thank for it.



How to Improve NIU

Every day, I try to make NIU a better place for not only other students, but also for the University as a whole. Recently, I have been doing events for the College of Business, such as volunteering at open houses, helping to decide in the curriculum, giving tours, and aiding whomever I can in improving the college. As an NLA, I act as a liaison between prospective students, current students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the college. I have been given quite a bit, so I do as much as I can to give back to the college and University that has given me so much.

I attend as many sporting events as I can make. This year, I have attended football, volleyball, and soccer games, as well as participating in several intramurals. It is my goal by the end of the year to attend 1 game/match for each sport that NIU offers. Not only are sporting events a great way to build Huskie Pride, but they are also a lot of fun; students have to remember to have fun during their time in college.

NIU has many strengths that can and are being capitalized on. Aside from the great geographical location, NIU has a considerable and active alumni base that live mainly in the Chicagoland area. This alumni base is one of the keys to NIU’s students success. The focus on student career success, one of President Baker’s main goals, is another huge strength. Many of my friends at other universities will not have had an internship when they graduate; I have been fortunate enough to have had 3.

A few challenges that NIU will face in the coming years are the same ones it has always faced: rising cost of tuition, limited state funding, student retention, etc… However, NIU is doing quite a bit to combat these challenges and face them head on. NIU faces many of the same challenges as every other higher educational institution. The whole system will continually evolve, and society will be the benefactor.

That’s all for now!


NLA Reception 2015/2016

This year’s NLA Reception went great!

I have known my Dean, Dr. Denise Schoenbachler since my first week on campus. She has always been a role model and provided support to myself and several of my organizations. At the end of this year, Dean Schoenbachler is stepping down from her position after over a decade of leading the college.

This year, I plan to work with the Dean to enact anything that she wants to do during her last year as dean of the college of business. I know there have been a few projects she wanted to get done, and I will do everything I can to help her in this process. I will also try to work with her to establish a continuation of the NLAs for the next Dean. While Dr. Schoenbachler is stepping down from her current position, she will be still teaching for the Marketing Department after a little hiatus to spend with her family.

Overall, Dr. Schoenbachler has had a tremendous impact on my educational and extracurricular experiences. Through the NLA program, I got even more chances to interact with her and work with her to accomplish goals and objectives for the college, as well as the University. She will surely be missed by anyone who has gotten the chance to know her as well as I have.

That’s all for now!


Advice for a student in the CoB This Year

3 years ago, almost to date, I stepped onto campus for only the second time ever. A few days prior, I received the best advice I ever got- step outside of my comfort zone. In high school, I was never a very outgoing person. I played a few sports, went to classes, had my friend groups, but never had the drive or confidence to be outgoing. So, I challenged myself to get outside my comfort zone during my freshman year- it was the best collegiate decision I made.

I joined organizations left and right until I found a few that stuck. These organizations, along with the friends, faculty, and alumni I have met because of them, have completely transformed me. I have been able to develop skills that have not only made me more confident, but just overall more socially welcoming and enjoyable. All this was thanks to a piece of advice I was given during my orientation that I decided to wholeheartedly follow.

Stepping outside of your comfort zone is one of the best ways to find out what you are truly capable of. Taking risks and doing things you might not normally do is a great way for someone to reinvent themselves, especially someone like me who was looking for a fresh start after high school- I enjoyed high school, but just wanted to create a different experience for myself.

I use to hate presenting and public speaking; I always felt so awkward and that everyone was constantly critiziczing me. What I came to realize was that with a little coaching, some practice, and a bit of built  up confidence, public speaking and presenting to a large group wasn’t that hard after all. Because of my choice to step outside of my comfort zone, and seek out opportunities to have new experiences, I know that I am a more well-rounded person.

What will you make of this year?


Mentoring: Past, Present, and Future

I have had several mentors that have helped me significantly during my time at NIU. Between faculty, alumni, administrators, and students, it is extremely hard to choose just one without leaving anyone out. I will talk about a former student that has had an incredible impact on my time here. I met him my freshman year, during the first week of school. It was he who first encouraged me to get involved. He got me to come out to a few clubs in the College of Business and I was hooked. My first two years, I was so busy that my sleep suffered a bit. He helped me out with everything from grades, to campus involvement, to personal struggles, and to even helping me socialize with people on campus. I did not know more than 2 people before stepping foot on campus. He helped me realize my passion and enthusiasm for NIU.

This year, I feel that I have taken on more of the mentor role. I have been getting my mentee involved with a variety of things on campus ranging from Honors, to study abroad, and research initiatives. She has come a long way already and is progressing extremely quickly. I was and still am able to help this person adjust to life on campus and away from home while preparing them for the real world. I am helping this person because I believe they have incredible potential and will also be willing and able to help out others in the future. I am where I am because of the shoulders of giants before me. I only hope to help out others in the ways that I have been helped myself.

I am most looking forward to getting to know my mentor this spring during the Student-Alumni mentor program. I was involved with the pilot program last spring and my mentor, Pete Garrity, was incredible. He is a recently retired marketing alumnus that has had a wealth of business experiences during his professional career. I have been very fortunate to get to know him and about his passions for NIU and this mentoring program. I am looking forward to getting know my mentor for this spring just as well as I have been fortunate enough to get to know Pete. I have been on the student end on nearly the whole process of setting up this mentoring program, from the very first day that the idea was conceived at a focus group at NIU’s Naperville campus. Mentoring is one of the key initiatives that President Baker has set forth to student career success. I am honored and excited to be a part of what could be a part of NIU for years to come.

Thanks for reading,