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College of Business Alumni

The NIU Legacy: Two Fathers Talk and Find Out their Children ARE Listening
Contributor: Lia Gillet

Parents of teenagers often ask themselves, "Is my kid listening? Is anything I am saying having an impact?" 1981 NIU College of Business graduates and fathers Marty Oosterbaan and Ralph Strozza believe so. They've been sharing their NIU triumphs, failures, and some "good old college days" stories with their kids, who on their own, decided to attend NIU.

Ralph Strozza explains, "Sharing personal experiences, both positive and negative, is a critical responsibility for every parent. Sharing the legacy helps children to understand what made us who we are and guides them in their own journey as they receive diplomas and embark upon their own life experiences." Both Ralph's son and daughter are graduates of NIU, and since they both majored and minored in the same disciplines as he, Ralph's stories were especially relevant and allowed his children a different perspective on their academic experiences. And when his son was assigned the dorm room next to the one he had studied and slept in, the stories became even more real.

Marty Oosterbaan was pleased that his daughter and two of his three sons came to NIU. "For me, NIU is where the possibilities in this world come into focus, and I want my children to take maximum advantage of that so they can go forward in their lives with confidence." Marty believes sharing his legacy helps to provide his children with perspective "about what's really important and how the passage of time changes one's priorities." He feels it can also help to "take some of the stress off, keep things in balance, and encourage fun along the way."

One thing is certain, both Ralph and Marty had their share of fun at NIU; and as their children grew, they were excited to share stories with them. Their children were equally excited to show off Barsema Hall as compared to Wirtz Hall, the old College of Business building. The two fathers and their children may have graduated over 30 years apart, frequented different local hot spots, and had separate career paths...but one thing they do have in common is their belief in sharing their NIU legacy and their Huskie pride. Ralph and Marty's children know their fathers' best NIU stories, attend Huskie alumni events together, and enjoy talking about their successes that came from NIU.

It's clear that when parents talk to children about their alma mater, it immediately puts a face to the institution. And when the time comes to gather college applications, students already have a friendly, successful face associated with the NIU College of Business - the face of someone they love and trust. Neither Ralph nor Marty advised their children directly to select NIU; they simply shared their passion and experiences, as all good parents do.

Legacy can be that simple.