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Dean's Circle


Distinguished Donor Spotlight ~ Deb Brucker

Deb Brucker Management alumna and NIU President's Circle member, Deb Brucker, exceeded her parents' dream for her to be the first generation in her family to earn a college degree. With over 20 years of progressive experience in human resources leadership, Deb now serves as Director of Business Relationship Management for Citi Learning North America, Citigroup.

Deb's late mother and father, Nick and Olga Rakuc, didn't have the opportunity to attend college, but that was never an option for their children. As immigrants from Eastern Europe, ensuring their three children all attended college was part of the "American Dream." As Deb's strongest advocates, they instilled in her a strong work ethic, personal values, and an interest in helping others. Deb says she's still inspired daily when thinking about her parents. With this inspiration, Deb created the Nick & Olga Rakuc Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship helps students who are seeking a degree in management (with preference to human resources management), are active in their community, and are first generation college students. Creating the scholarship was a way for Deb and her husband, Jim, to honor her parents with recognition for the love and encouragement they provided Deb in her academic and professional pursuits. "It gives me great Huskie pride to give back to the NIU College of Business and to help other management students," says Deb, "some of whom will be the first in their families to graduate from college, getting a great start on the path to a rewarding career."

No stranger to a fulfilling professional career, Deb worked her way from Manager of Human Resources to Director and then Vice President of Human Resources. Before joining Citigroup, Deb served as Chief Learning Officer and Senior Vice President at Fifth Third Bancorp. In this role she established the learning and leadership development strategies for Fifth Third Bank for a variety of their business units. Currently at Citigroup, Deb is responsible for leading the development and implementation of learning and performance improvement strategies for Citi's North American Consumer lines of business for over 50,000 employees. She consults with business heads and senior leaders on functional skills and talent development strategies in the areas of leadership, sales, credit, servicing, risk/compliance and collections. Deb credits her NIU education for helping her progress in her career with the confidence to accept stretch positions, requiring her to move across 3 states—growing both professionally and personally.

Deb is a strong advocate of NIU President Baker's Student Career Success initiative. She understands the difficulties recent graduates have in finding employment in this competitive environment. Deb believes in the important role the College of Business plays in preparing students for success—by continuing to offer programs with relevant curricula, helping students find meaningful internships, and encouraging students to keep abreast of business and market trends. She also considers student participation in extra-curricular activities and student organizations as a critical component to help build confidence in networking; as social connections are an important factor in determining individual success and growth.

Deb is a huge fan of Huskie football and because her husband is a University of Michigan graduate, she is also an "adopted" Michigan fan. Aside from college sports, her interests include travel, culinary experiences and enjoying time with family and friends. Deb and Jim reside in Cincinnati, OH with hopes to soon return home to the Chicago area. With plans to be in close proximity to DeKalb, Deb looks forward to being able to contribute more of her time to the College of Business in the near future.

Donors are key to our success. They help provide day-to-day essentials in the classroom, scholarship awards for hard-working students, and program and faculty support. Donors impact every facet of the university, and the entire NIU community is grateful for their generosity. Learn more >