“Living the Dream”

                As I enter the midway point of my first semester as a junior, thought I would take a look back at what has gotten me to this point. A simple phrase (as mentioned above) “Living the Dream” has been something I have said over this past year. What exactly is living the dream you make ask? Well in short terms for a while I wasn’t as willing to experience things in the sense of doing different things. I would find something that would interest me and only participate in that said thing. Without giving the idea of branching out to meet new people any thought.  For some odd reason during my sophomore year here at Northern Illinois, it all was about to change. Sitting in my EPFE 201 class with Dr. Cisneros I met two people who started the change for me at Northern Illinois University: Ben Clark and Jake Ferguson.

As we venture back into the days of NIU Cause (a social entrepreneurship student organization) days, I saw myself take on leadership positions and more opportunities with-in CAUSE such as social media, fundraising, and even physically making the pizzas every Thursday.  My next opportunity that was presented to me was club tennis. Now as you may already know from my first post here at Student Voices, I played tennis for four years in high school. Tennis has been an adventure for the last year as it has taught me many things in terms of recruitment, membership, finances and even community service over the course of a school year. One of my better friends at NIU became my vice-president of club tennis. It was a great opportunity for us to tour the Midwest with the rest of our club. We played in nine tournaments across four states and made lasting friendships with many club tennis teams. Now if that wasn’t enough it was time to get involved in the business world. The next few things on my plate were to attend guest speaker events such as Ralph de la Vega the CEO of AT&T or Elly Rohrer of Investours Mexico. The knowledge one can obtain from these guest speakers is priceless and is absolutely rewarding when it comes to real world experience.  The differences between each speaker make them unique in their own ways.  Rohrer is 25 years old but has seen so much of the world whether it be Colombia, Mexico and Latin America. She has experienced some of the most drastic changes in developed, developing or under-developing countries.

To sum up my experience here at Northern Illinois University it’s been everything I thought it would be and a lot more surprisingly. When I stepped into the College of Business four years ago for an open house I told myself that I was going to do an ELC project. The idea of gaining real world experience with top companies and professors is one of the best opportunities NIU offers.  When there is a multitude of student organizations that encompass all six majors here at the College of Business there is no excuse for not getting involved. It’s the best four years of your life and you’ll learn the most about yourself as you plan to make your way into the real world. I’m still not exactly sure what “Living the Dream” entails but I’m excited for what the future holds and grateful of all the memories I have had so far.

One step in the right direction.

As a student here at Northern Illinois University I was intrigued by the possibility of joining a business organization. During my freshman year I had already solidified the opportunity to participate in an honors society where they only selected 44 members of the sophomore class. It was a great way to meet people who were as motivated as I in bettering my education. In my mind the journey had just begun in terms of getting involved on campus. As I attended my first Honors course of my sophomore year I was looking for something new to take my ideas and passion towards. Jacob Ferguson and Ben Clark have become two of my better friends over the past year and were the first to introduce me to NIU Cause.

One afternoon I chose to follow them after class to a meeting where I then began to understand what I was going to invest my time in. NIU Cause is a social entrepreneurship organization and it’s unique because of how we solve real life problems using business principles. We work with real life organizations that help actual entrepreneurs who live in third world countries. During my first couple weeks at the NIU Cause meetings I wasn’t very willing to speak up or get involved. Not sure why at the time I guess it was just a little intimidating at first. It all started to change one weekend when the President Zach Fiegel my former Community Advisor noticed my coverage of the baseball winter meetings. Along with all my other activities, I also write for three sports blogs CLNSRadio.com, FishStripes.com which is featured on SBNation.com as well as Viewfromthebleachers.com which is on the ESPN Sweet spot Network. He brought it up at the meeting and asked the group if I could take over the social media for Cause. What happened next is history. Over the next several months I not only improved my communication skills but made lifelong friends along the way.

After doing the social media for a few weeks I was introduced to a new role on the NIU Cause fundraising committee. This was definitely out of my comfort zone as I participated with three other members narrowing down restaurants and stores to look for donations. As time passed one of our members Chris Leifel introduced the idea of doing a weekly pizza sale. Four members became the pizza makers of NIU Cause Pizza: Laine Smid, Rachel McBride, Chris Leifel and I. As the first semester came to a close we began a pizza sale on Thursdays where we would go to Pizza Pros’ located in DeKalb to make pizzas. In my mind I was thinking there was no way I could accomplish this as my skills in the kitchen were very limited. To this day I’m glad I took that leap of faith and went with them that Thursday morning. These were skills that yes might not be transferable to business classes but definitely earn me some points someday by calculating costs or using teamwork skills in making the pizzas. Rough estimates on our sales last year included making 200 plus pizzas. In addition, due to the sales and money we raised through other avenues we were able to donate 350 dollars for the Nyegina Library and Community Resource Center in Tanzania. We also contributed $500 to Rebecca Clark one of our members who with other college of business students collectively raised over $2500 for Mari Chuy. The campaign was started by the NIU Micro Finance Class where they wanted to help Mari Chuy achieve her dream of building a family restaurant in Bucerias, Mexico.

I have attached a video that better explains Mari Chuy’s restaurant project. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qGn8jWdtiU

Overall it was an amazing experience just in those five months something I’ll remember for a lifetime and will always treasure. Excited for what the future holds within this great organization and can’t wait to see it grow.