From Paris to NLU: Worth It To The End! Prof tells why she left France to earn two NLU degrees


By Elizabeth Schaefer, M.S., M.A., Professional Adjunct Lecturer, National Louis University

eiffeltowerstockI chose to leave Paris, France–the City of Lights–to attend National Louis University.

I’ll be honest; it was a difficult choice.

To explain, let me tell you what I do now, and how I got here.

I am a professional adjunct lecturer at National Louis University (NLU). Prior to that, I was a graduate student in the Written Communications program at NLU. Prior to that, I was a graduate student in the Psychology program at NLU. Prior to that, I lived in Paris, France, having the time of my life.

This is what went through my mind in 2003, when I still had a view of the Eiffel Tower:

Do I continue to live in Paris, working just blocks from the Champs-Élysées; indulging my sweet tooth on elaborate pastries and crepes; drinking sublime Bordeaux with my jocular French friends; zipping about from arrondissement-to-arrondissement to imbibe the perpetual sensory stimuli?

Or do I increase my textbook knowledge, (of which I speak approvingly, not derogatively), and assert my cognitive attention to my fields of interest? Do I return to my homeland to better myself through greater knowledge acquisition? To let my sensory intellect complement my mental intellect?

During my stint abroad, my sister, Jennifer, attended NLU to study child development. Jennifer raved about NLU’s expert faculty and intriguing lessons.

In particular, Jennifer stressed, the university’s culture was unique in its combination of the greater good and pragmatism. The greater good being, for example, the university’s specialization in fostering careers with humanistic application (education, behavioral science, communications) as well as the institution’s mindset of respecting and welcoming all demographics of the student populace.

NLU, Jennifer said, sees students as people: people with enormous and equal potentials. NLU does not see students as of a certain social or economic denomination. NLU recognizes that ALL students are gifted, and through studiousness, commitment, and an insatiable quest for knowledge and self-betterment, each student can excel.

And so, in the summer of ’03, I packed my suitcases, bid adieu to France, and moved to Chicago. I promptly enrolled at NLU, was admitted, and got started!

My initial intent in joining the master’s program in psychology was altruistic; I wanted to become a therapist or a social worker. But upon return to the States, I quickly landed a corporate job, and my attention shifted to the business arena. So I changed my concentration to Organizational Psychology.

The winter afternoon I delivered my final research to the thesis committee, the Chicago streets were lush with snow. After successfully presenting and defending my thesis, I met my congratulatory sister outside 122 South Michigan. I remember her gesture vividly: She wrote my first name in the snow, and included my new extended appellation: Beth, M.A.

Thanks to the psychology program’s substantive curricula, I was well-armed to apply my gained insight to my authentic career. Over the period of a decade, I rose up the corporate ranks from operations specialist, to operations manager, to communications manager, to senior manager of marketing and communications.

Despite the relative comfort of a good job, coupled with stimulating projects, my career aspirations shifted unanticipatedly. When my dad died, rather suddenly, in 2012, I had a change of heart. This family tragedy triggered my desire to return to academia. My dad was a college English professor, you see. Throughout his 37 years of teaching, he reveled in his work. My dad was a wise, generous, humble man. He cherished educating students and consequently enriching their lives.

My epiphany: I wanted to be a teacher again. As I had been in Paris.

Thus I enrolled in NLU’s Written Communication graduate program, all set to earn my second master’s degree. This degree falls under the umbrella of English, which, of course, is a necessary qualification to teach college composition. I met with Joanne Koch, Ph.D., the program’s director, and she spread out the course catalog, drawing my attention to the makeup of the program.

NLU’s Written Communication offerings were every bit as compelling as my psychology studies. The curricula in editing, expository writing, writing for the web, and many other courses, acutely accentuated my professional experience. Shortly after graduation, I was delighted (and fortunate!) to be hired as an adjunct instructor at NLU.

Now I teach primarily within NLU’s new undergraduate program in Applied Communications. This marvelous program was devised and spearheaded by Dr. Stephanie Poczos, current NLU Director of New Undergraduate Initiatives and the Pathways Program. In the Applied Communications program, aspiring communications professionals sharpen their knowledge and hone their skills in subjects relevant to the current job market.

And apparently, I can’t get enough of NLU! It is my aim to participate in NLU’s new doctoral program in “Higher Learning Leadership,” which kicks off this winter.

Honestly, second only to motherhood, playing my small part within the large but tight-knit NLU community is the most rewarding accomplishment of my life.

Paris to NLU?

I wouldn’t redo it for all the eclairs in the world.