Last NLA blog entry ever… :(

IT’S SO SAD! NLA has been such a great experience for me, but here it goes, the final words!

I’ll start off by talking about our dear speaker, Ms. Judy Santacatarina director of bachelor’s in general studies and so much more (she deserves a title that is way longer than that!). This woman is so easy to listen to and grabs your attention like no other! And for all the right reasons, too. She helped rev up our meeting and mold our minds to think about communication– something that is so simple and inherent in our lives, but that, at least for me, is not considered and evaluated as frequently as it should be! Ms.¬†Santacatarina really helped open our eyes to the ways we communicate both verbally and non-verbally by demonstrating and involving us in her 100% energized speech. It effected us so much that–similar to the time spent with others after watching a powerful movie with– her energy lingered in the room and rubbed off on all of us. We had a great discussion about leadership topics with each other and discussed how important trust is in a leader and group.

I will miss the NLA experience at NIU. Not only is it over for me, but for all at NIU because the program is sadly ending. Being an NLA has helped introduce me to some really cool people at NIU who have a huge presence here. I think overall, NIU will be okay without the NLAs, but it’s going to be up to students on their own to take that extra step and introduce themselves to administration, faculty, and staff so that these important connections with students can be made. Looking back at my previous blogs, I’ve seen that I have grown this year as a senior NLA. I enjoyed reading what I wrote all those years ago and I really am glad we were asked to write blogs for times like this. I can’t thank NLA enough for the help that has been given to me and I will NEVER forget the etiquette skills I learned through you! ūüėČ Thanks NLA ūüôā

Holding back…

I am so glad to have watched this video today for our NLA blog post. It couldn’t have been better timing especially with the large to-do list I have been actively adding to that is for this winter break. As a senior, I’ve noticed that it feels easier to slip into a trend of complacency and laziness because of the countless hours and large amount of work it has been to get here at this point in my life. There is a tendency to want to sit back and relax because of phrases like “I’m tired” and “I can’t do anymore.” But I know that’s not true. I take care of myself, i can’t be that tired. I can do more, because I am capable and I love pushing my limits to see how far I can go. In order to snap out of it, I must ask myself, “if you stop now, what was it all for?” Something I can take away from this video is that I can’t stop now. I’ve put in all this work into school, fitness, and personal growth so that I can keep going as pushing my own boundaries. Mr. Lidsky makes this point, that fish can “swim backwards with their heads.” We as humans have this terrible ability to say no to reaching a new potential. Something I love about adventure is that going out into nature always holds some unknown that will remain unknown unless the adventurer goes out, accepts the challenge of the unknown, and finds the answer for him/her self. So whatever happens, just like for Mr. Lidsky, you must accept the challenges that the adventure of life puts on us, and continue to grow and let go of excuses, assumptions, and fears and create our own reality! With that, u can’t wait to work on that winter break list and even continue to add to it (one step at a time). 

Challenge Yourself!

So it’s Monday, and I already feel like I am over-stressed and over-committed– it’s the life of an involved student! However, the light at the end of the tunnel is slowly becoming visible, now that I am a senior. There is not one day that goes by without thinking about walking on that stage at graduation, looking at my family in the crowd, having a delicious lunch in town with them afterwards, and finally taking that last sign of relief– until the real world comes.

But that wasn’t always my motivation for doing well to balance it all, making it to the next meeting, and actively participating in class, meetings, and work. What helps me get through all the challenges is a set of lots of go-to tools. When my brain is so full that “I can’t think anymore,” I blow off steam by going to the rec or the climbing gym and working out. When I feel so stressed that I don’t know what to start with, I rank the to-dos by urgency and importance, then proceed with the most important and most urgent task. Most importantly, to keep going with a good attitude, I think of others– I know that if I’m in a good mood and willing to work, others may feel that way too just by being around me. Even if I have to “fake” being happy, despite feeling stressed, or tightly wound, that feeling will pass and before I know it, I’ll be laughing with friends while being productive. In summary, when I feel challenged, I try to remain productive, because I will be grateful for the work down the road, even if it’s considering a different task. Whatever I do represents who I am, and I believe a person can continue to grow and develop in life without limits.

Advice to First Year Students!!

Welcome to NIU, First-Years! As a senior here at NIU, I think I’ve gained enough experience to offer guidelines on how to be successful here. First things first, you must make yourself comfortable! If you are in the dorms, in an apartment, or commuting, take the first week or so to find your rhythm so that you have the basics down and you can begin to add on. LOTS of clubs will wait to meet at the end of the first week, or during second week, which is great for you because then you can focus on what club suits you best without feeling stressed to eat right, go grocery shopping, workout, get to class on time, etc. That being said, GET INVOLVED! Career success can be achieved with greater passion, value, and integrity if you get involved whether that’s in an academic-based organization, health-based, fitness-based or whatever! It’s important to also have balance when studying gets tough, because you need a release, and clubs can offset¬†that stress. Involvement can also help expose you to like-minded people and before you know it, a group of awesome friends.

Take yourself seriously when it comes to eating well and moving your bodyРtake care of yourself physically, as well as mentally and spiritually. College is a period in life where you develop, grow, learn, and prepare yourself for adulthood. A lot of the choices you make now have the potential to reflect who you WILL be as an adult, so keep a strong vision. It may be tough, but through the rough patches, you will find out who you are and what you are capable of. Stay strong, study hard, and HAVE FUN!

I Heart NIU

There are many reasons why I love NIU.¬†The reasons end up being what makes up¬†the heart and soul¬†of the cover letters I write for job applications¬†or what I talk to people about who don’t know much about NIU. It’s so easy to talk about¬†why I love it here¬†because so many of the great things that have happened to me in the last three years are a result of the opportunities that are possible at NIU. At NIU, similar to any higher-education institution, faculty and students have the capability to create relationships with folks from amazing companies and¬†even attend¬†world-class events in the city of Chicago. Being at NIU gives students the exposure and opportunity to be a part of something bigger.¬†One can utilize their skills at an internship, or through research. Local students can meet international ones from all over the world and maybe even take a visit to somewhere like India because they became such good friends.¬†I have been chosen¬†to be a part of the faculty selection committee for the College of Engineering & Engineering Technology. By participating in this, I get¬†see first-hand the¬†rigorous review-process of choosing faculty who will join the NIU family and share their knowledge with students 30 years from now. It is an amazing opportunity and I have already learned so much!

I am so grateful for the students, faculty, and staff of NIU. I have learned so much and have grown into a young adult that looking back, my childhood self would’ve definitely approved of. Here and now, I am following my dreams, and NIU¬†is the piece that can¬†it all happen!

Engaging in Self-Reflection

I firmly believe in the practice of self-reflection. This can be done in many ways — yoga, performing your choice workout, or cooking a marvelous dinner, whatever gets you in the zone, to meta cognate. ¬†Just like was mentioned in the TED Talk, the everyday actions of life can lead one into mundane actions, and eventually, confusion. Many times, reconsideration of your past, current, and future direction is done during pre-determined times, such as the New Year, or turning a year older.

Sometimes, these moments where one realizes their identity in self-reflection are forced by an event, or an inspiring tragedy. No matter when it is, or what it is for, it is important to remember principles and values to live by so that you can continue, or begin again, to appreciate the vibrant life around you. This exercise of self-reflection can help one to make you understand the circumstances around you, and appreciate the work of others around you.

I did an exercise in self-reflection¬†upon the turn of the New Year, and I touched upon this in my previous blog. Little did I know, this was, like the speaker suggested, to get to know what is important to me, and to continue to make my life meaningful. It’s more important to me to concentrate efforts in a select group of values and by doing so, I find that by putting time into the things that are meaningful to me, I add value to my life and the lives of others. Following this set of goals is how I plan to move forward as an NLA and a student, because that adds value to my life.

The Society Of Women Engineers

I currently serve as the president of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at NIU. This is one of the biggest leadership roles I have had in my life. Many times, I have been an active member of clubs and organizations, but I never knew what it was like to be the one in the front of the room making it all come together. If I knew three years ago that I’d be in this spot, I wouldn’t believe it! In this position, with the help of my e-board and members, SWE has¬†implemented programs and partnerships to grow our chapter and increase our¬†outreach within the local community. This commitment to the students of the club and its¬†affiliates has given the chapter a whole new presence on campus. Furthermore,¬†making connections with professionals and local schools and companies has had a¬†significant and positive impact on my leadership and communication skills.

I enjoy this position a lot because managing and planning events has allowed me to meet some really cool folks across campus. NIU is full of opportunity and I found that out from the very start when I was lucky enough to receive the Transfer Residential Scholarship when I first came to NIU in 2013. But there is always more to be involved with and to help out with. I am really happy to have such a great group of students moving with me to help increase¬†our presence in the DeKalb area. Together, we work to make more engineers come out of the DeKalb region, to be involved in the community tech events, and to share the love of engineering with children young and old. It’s such a treat to be a part of that and to help make it all happen!

December blog #2: Service at NIU

One service project I have been involved in is the main one of the semester for me, unfortunately. I wish there could have been more. But this one is really good and requires a strong drive because it’s quite a huge project.

Some NLAs in the service committee are gathering budgets, names, presenters, and musicians for a community-wide event– a gala dinner. This is unlike any other gala dinner because the funds will come straight back here to NIU and be used to purchase new equipment to replace the old stuff. This equipment is what helps students who are hard of hearing or vision, or have different physical abilities than what most students have, learn at the same rate that anyone else can. There are computers, tools, machines, and software that makes this all possible, but is not offered to the greatest extent in a place that should be granted the latest and greatest. NIU, like any ¬†other educational facility, should uphold their title by offering students with the best arena to learn, grow and play in. This cannot be done when a student is struggling with their homework because they don’t have what they need to do it fully and completely.

This is why we are working with the disability resource center to raise funds and update our equipment so that each student has the ability to succeed here at NIU. And there is no doubt that any amount of effort will help add value and inclusion to NIU and that is very important to me and my fellow students.

December blog #1: Goals for the New Year

As I saw in a recent NIU article featured on the home page, New Year goals rarely see through to the end. But similar to what NIU psych professor Amanda Durik says, it’s the attempt for change that is good for us. Lack of commitment in New Years goals can show that it was too broad, or too great of a change, and it will fade away, or it can also spur the motivation to really stick with it, because it’s something hard and it’s needed. Being a student in engineering, I realize that a challenging endeavor is thrilling for me.

Taking some time to reflect in the new year helped me to realize that my life can be categorized based on what I value, and what I spend my time on. For most of these categories, I tried to pick one really outstanding thing that I do well in that category (for instance, in the family category, calling a family member once a week during the school year to have a good hour-long conversation). I then realized where there are gaps, and one action item I can do to improve this category (such as in the school category, asking questions after class where I marked in my notes a spot of confusion). There is one category that requires a bit more work that can help me be a better student/NLA and that is health and wellness. The “health triangle” is a great way to gauge the areas of importance in maintaining health and wellness and the three points, mind, body, and spirit, and can be considered in your everyday life and choices.

I believe that there are infinite ways to live a healthy lifestyle. But think about this. Rather than worrying about how and when to fit in a workout (just go!), or how displeased you are with the choice you made to indulge in free pizza, using that time to break grounds in undergraduate research or taking extra concentration and care in a homework assignment so that you are not dwelling on it during a different event that is meant to be fun (NLA ones), is a MUCH better way to spend energy. It’s the indecision that traps you– commit, and you will be free. Concentrate and prepare, so that the commitment is made easy and is part of a new year, new you!

November: Taking a Moment to Give Thanks

Hello reader,

This month, November, seems to always serve as a month to give thanks for what we have. It’s sweet potato awareness month,¬†transgender awareness month, and lung cancer awareness month, to name a few. Those three things make me think of three¬†other¬†general things¬†to be thankful for: ¬†good food, good support, and healthy choices. These are critical aspects of my lifestyle that¬†have helped get me to where I am today and help me continue to move forward.

In DeKalb, it is very easy to come across GOOD food! Our community members care about us in that we are given the option of delicious Mexican food, pizzas, Thai food, and pub eats. I know that good food is in turn good for the soul, and it can really pay off to take a break from the studies to enjoy a meal with a friend, coworker, or mentor.

Good support is crucial for student success. This can be made available by participating in clubs, going to on-campus events (sports events, concerts, club event nights) to meet friends and even mentors (such as going to alumni village at the football games), trying out a focus group or visiting one of the many resources on campus. I know for a fact that having a personal support system can help improve academic behavior, introduce one to many opportunities, and if done right, can help one make the right decisions.

That leads into the third, and most important tier. If you remember one thing that encapsulates the rest, you can ask yourself one question when trying to make a choice: healthy or unhealthy? It can be something as small as eating a bag of chips from the vending machine or beginning a training plan. Whatever it is, think of the health-goal you are trying to reach, and how you would feel looking back on that decision. It’s challenging to test your thought process, but with a little evaluation, healthy choices become second nature. And healthy choices, like choosing to “let off steam” with a good workout instead of keeping stress inside, is what helps me move forward.

Thank YOU,
Kamila