Today was the first day of the inaugural McKearn Scholars summer program. It was just an evening, but what an evening it was!
But first, I better begin with a bit about myself. My name is Sarah Stuebing, and I am a senior biology major at Northern Illinois University. I have been conducting research here at NIU since my freshman year, so I jumped at the opportunity to be in this program and conduct my own research project.
As I already mentioned, the program just started this evening. We got to move into the dorms and have a dinner with the members of two other research programs as well as the other McKearn scholars. Having dinner definitely brought the group together. We learned everyone’s names (or at least tried), where they are from, and what project they will be working on. Next, we played “Two Truths and a Lie”, where a person says three statements about themselves (two true and one lie) and the rest of the group has to guess what the lie is. It was a lot of fun learning random facts and unique talents of the other students, and it provided a good inkling as to who one should not play poker with.
There is no doubt that there were a lot of bright and exceptional people in that room for dinner today, which is why I am honored to be one of them. I would have never gotten to this point without the help and encouragement of many people, and I’d like to take a moment to thank them now. First off, I have to include my parents. They have supported me every step of the way, and I know could not have made it without them. Next, I have to thank Dr. Julia Spears and her team at the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning here at NIU. They too have been supportive of me and my crazy research ideas from the first time we met. Not only do I thank them for that, but I thank them whole-heartedly for not looking at me like I was crazy when I presented them with some of my research ideas. Because of your attitudes toward my ideas, I never thought of my research projects as unusual or novel for NIU. Had you done so, I probably would not have even attempted my equine and primate projects. The list of people I would like to thank would be long enough to post by itself, so instead I will just mention the mentors that have helped me throughout my past and current projects – Dr. Pamela Macfarlane, Dr. Christopher Hubbard, Dr. Moira Jenkins, Dr. Douglas Wallace, and Dr. Leila Porter. To everyone else that I have not specifically mentioned, I extend a whole-hearted “thank you” as well.
Now I have been prompted to share something inspirational, like words of advice and welcome to my fellow scholars. With that, welcome! I am very glad to have at least made your acquaintance so far, and I hope to get to know you better. DeKalb is my hometown, and I hope that you feel as comfortable in it as I do. In regards to this experience and NIU, I can only encourage you to try, think, and dream. I have learned that NIU truly is a place of endless opportunities, so I hope you have crazy ideas of your own and take the chance to try and achieve them here. If you get to experience the same NIU that I have, then I know you’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish.