A year ago, Kristine Becker-Kristufek was feeling dejected. The school where she’d gotten her criminal justice bachelor’s degree wasn’t regionally accredited, complicating her dream of getting a master’s.
Unsure what to do next, she attended an NLU open house, where enrollment representatives told her about the fast-track Bachelor’s in Applied Behavioral Sciences (ABS) program. Kristine applied, and a financial services staffer crunched the numbers to see how she could pay for school. It was that extra touch that meant a lot to her, and things began to fall into place, from her financial options to the previous credit NLU accepted.
“I hate to sound cliché, but I was meant to be here,” Kristine said with a laugh.
Fast-forward to today and the senior from Mount Prospect, IL, is well into her 15-month ABS program — one she said has changed her life.
“It’s really learning about your temperament, how you study; you learn about yourself,” she said. “And I was reading the textbooks, and I was literally crying, and a light bulb was going off.”
Since starting the program she’s received the Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship, the Edna Dean Baker Award, Lynore and Robert A. Greising Memorial Award, and has been selected for the 2013-14 Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges — and she recently added another important accolade.
In October Kristine became a Lincoln Academy Student Laureate — a distinction awarded to college seniors who display academic excellence as well as leadership in on- and off-campus activities. Kristine is employed at NLU’s Civic Engagement Center through work study and has volunteered in her community at Meals on Wheels and with the Northwest Center Against Sexual Assault, where she currently assists on a hotline for sexual assault survivors, as well as making visits to hospitals and local schools.
Earlier this month Kristine traveled to Springfield to accept her award, along with recipients from other Illinois universities. Held at the Old State Capitol — she was impressed with its history and ties to Lincoln — the ceremony offered attendees a chance to hear about one another’s accomplishments and celebrate their commitment to education and community service. The Lincoln Academy even hired a Lincoln impersonator to recite the Gettysburg address. It was an exceptional experience, Kristine said, one she’ll always remember.
Back at NLU, Kristine has credited her professors with continuing to inspire her as she moves toward her degree, in particular Natalie Manbeck in the ABS program.
“She’s an inspiration to me because she’s the one that put the light bulb over my head and clicked it on through this program,” she said.
After she receives her bachelor’s degree, Kristine said she wants to get her master’s and then become a counselor or therapist to help survivors of sexual assault and other clients manage the everyday stresses of life. It’s this desire to give back that brought her to Springfield and has carried her through her studies at NLU. Kristine remains grateful for all the support she’s received.
“To me the award is not an individual effort,” she said. “I didn’t do it by myself. I had the backing of the school. I had the backing of my professors. I had the backing of my family and my friends — my [class] group. They pushed me to strive to succeed.”