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How to Survive your First Year of College These insider tips can help things go well


By Danielle Laban, NLU’s Director of Student Experience

This is a really exciting time for you. I remember the summer before I started college, I felt so free and on top of the world! I was excited about moving on to new challenges and experiencing new things. Let’s kick the new school year off with advice to help you survive your first year of college from someone who’s done it and who’s made a living out of working closely with college students. Your story is just getting started;  let’s begin that first chapter! Continue reading »

After saving lives in combat, student veteran Derrick Mitchell hopes to save lives in hospitals In this Student Veteran Spotlight, Mitchell explains how military service shaped his career goals


derrick_mitchell.jpgAs a combat medic, Derrick Mitchell sometimes had to run into battle to pick up fallen soldiers and administer emergency treatment. Now, pursuing his Master’s in Health Services Administration at NLU, he plans to continue assisting with medical care—without the combat—by working in healthcare or hospital administration.

Serving our country was almost a given for Mitchell, 32, who started at NLU in April, 2014.  He has five family members who served, including his parents and grandfather.  In this recent interview, he told us why service was a life adventure, and how it’s shaping his education and career. Continue reading »

Dr. Shinn: Let’s Shift Focus From Diagnosing Kids’ Disabilities To Helping Them Learn Prof keynotes at distinguished conference on educating children with disabilities

Mark Shinn

Mark Shinn, Ph.D.


When children struggle in school, the trend for about the past 35 years has been to test them and give them a diagnosis, such as a learning disorder, a behavior disorder or a special needs student.

That hasn’t been effective in helping these students, NLU’s Mark Shinn, Ph.D., told many of the nation’s premier researchers and policymakers in the special education field this week. Continue reading »

REACH Awards Given to Five Alumni for Refusing To Accept Status Quo They've worked, against the odds, to make things better

reach-gala113National Louis went all out when it awarded five alumni its Reach Award at the Field Museum on May 19. The gala Reach reception, dinner and awards ceremony took place under the watchful gaze of “Sue,” the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever discovered.

But it hasn’t always been gourmet food and fancy place settings for the five honorees. They have persevered in the real world to make things better for local people and  communities. Continue reading »

Cousins Who Didn’t Know They Were Both NLU’ers To Graduate Together They didn't realize both were attending National Louis

Jannae Jenkins and Darlene Cook

Jannae Jenkins Simmons, left, and Darlene Cook are first cousins, but were unaware they were both attending NLU until a surprise meeting. They will graduate together in the same Commencement ceremony June 20.

Darlene Cook went to National Louis’ Commencement Fair on May 27 to get information about the graduation ceremony and have her picture taken in a cap and gown. While she was waiting in line for the photo, however, she got a huge surprise.

“I looked up and there was my first cousin,” she exclaimed.

Continue reading »

Husband and Wife Graduate Together—For the Second Time They'll walk at NLU's Commencement June 20


DanaRobertBurrisCan higher education be romantic? While some couples need long walks on the beach or a glass of wine beside a crackling fire, Cupid shot his bow right through a syllabus at Dana Jocic Burris and Robert Burris.

The two met when they were undergraduates at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. They walked in the same Commencement ceremony to get their undergraduate degrees — his in secondary education and hers a double major in family and consumer sciences and marketing. With the diplomas out of the way, they got married in July 2010. Continue reading »

Columnist Cites NLU Veterans Program As National Model Student veterans' engagement rates, employment rates are rising

veteranschart-380x380NLU’s Veterans Program is getting national attention for its results.

Michael Schindler, a columnist for, an online news partner of The Seattle Times, referenced NLU in a column about offering military-connected students resources to help them succeed.

“Studies show that when community-based resources collaborate with college-based services, veteran involvement and graduation success rates improve considerably,” he wrote May 31. Continue reading »

NLU Prof Won Fulbright, Chairing Prestigious Caldecott Awards Dr. Junko Yokota credited with most diverse Caldecott book honors ever

junko yokota at wroclaw university

NLU’s Dr. Junko Yokota poses in front of the University of Wroclaw, Poland, where she is teaching on a Fulbright award.

NLU’s Junko Yokota, Ph.D., is having an amazing couple of years. Newspapers all over the world — in Korea, Turkey and Poland—are writing about her.

In 2013, she was chosen to chair the jury to determine the winners of the 2015 Caldecott  children’s book award. If you’ve ever browsed children’s books, you’ll recognize the Caldecott as one of the top honors in this category of literature.

Continue reading »

Students Present Community Service Projects to Mexican Consul Those who had scholarships from Mexican government completed requirements

By Monica Ramos


Itzel Hernandez, from left, Mitxi Ortiz, Claudia Moreno, David Rios and Juliana Alejandre spoke about their community service, a component of receiving their IME awards.

The government of Mexico created the IME Scholarship Program in 2005 in order to raise the educational levels of the Mexican and of Mexican-descent population living in the United States. Since then, Mexico has awarded 10 million pesos (about $643,000) annually to non-profit social organizations or educational institutions with education and training programs or support to higher education, for Mexican immigrants interested in starting, continuing or completing their studies.

On June 4, the 2014-2015 IME (Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior) Scholars presented their community service projects as part of the last phase of IME becas. NLU students, families and Rebeca Aguilar, Coordinator of Education programs in the Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago were present. Dr. Ignacio Lopez, NLU’s Vice provost, welcomed the participants and highlighted NLU’s commitment to community engagement and student leadership. Monica Ramos thanked the scholars on their professionalism and the good work on representing NLU in the community. Rebeca Aguilar spoke very highly about the students and the impact they had in the different programs in which they participated.

MexicanScholarsIMD06042015NLU students presented videos and testimonials about the service they provided to the Mexican community. At the end of the ceremony the participants celebrated the success of the IME program with traditional Mexican food.

Meet an NLU Student Veteran: Pilar Arteaga Hopes to transfer Navy work in logistics, inventories to civilian business world


After serving 20 years in the U.S. Navy, Pilar Arteaga is preparing for her second act. She returned to Chicago in the summer of 2014 and began attending NLU in the fall. She is on track to graduate in the winter of 2015 with a B.S. in Business Administration. Her 11-year-old son Nathan previously embraced the life of a military child, but has settled in to living in Chicago and excelling in school. Pilar talked with us about why she went into the Navy two weeks after high school graduation, where she traveled and what she plans to do with her degree.

What prompted you to enter the military?
I struggled academically and was having some problems at home when I graduated high school. I decided to enter the military two weeks after my graduation day. I planned to serve for about four years, but that timeframe extended to 20 years. Continue reading »