Let’s Talk About How Beautiful You Are.

Photo by: Datta Prakash

Editor’s note:

Lately my articles have been light hearted and promoting, everything from organizations to wonderful people in our community. Today is going to be a bit different. The topic is a tough one. But it’s important…especially when life moves as fast as it does. The subject is depression and emotional instability. I had a chance to sit down with Erica Wade, LCPC Staff Counselor/Outreach Coordinator for the Counseling & Consultation Services in the Campus Life building, room 200. I thought it would be great to share what I learned from Erica. Thank you for taking the time to read this article and even sharing it. Life is hectic and who knows, by sharing this, it might reach someone who needs a little help to turn their life around. As always feel free to reach out to me on all social media @LOUIEZMICH. I would be more than happy to talk with you anytime, anyplace. Thanks everyone, please enjoy.


This article will cover the following topics:

  • NIU Career Counseling:  what it does and the services they provide
  • Self-awareness:  what to watch out for in yourself, and your own emotions
  • Awareness of Others:  what to watch out for in a friend and their emotions
  • Coping Strategies:  how to cope and and deal with issues you discover
  • Ways to Help:  what to do if you feel your friend is affected
  • Campus Resources:  resources NIU provides
  • Upcoming Events:  what is “How the Health are you, NIU?” & Chai Chat
  • Immediate Actions:  things you can do right now to become mentally healthier


Before you start reading I want to make it clear that this article was meant to almost be a PDF that you would save and print out to reference whenever you needed. A good amount of research and interviewing went into this, so it is lengthy. That being said, if you do not have time right now to read this PLEASE TAKE AWAY THIS:

Go to, “How the Health are you, NIU”

  • This will be in the Holmes Student Center on Thursday October 8th from 2:00 – 7:15pm.

And/Or attend Chai Chat

  • In the Campus Life Building in room 100 on Wednesday October 7th from 4:30 – 6:00pm

Both of these are a great way to relax and make new friends while also receiving help from professionals who know exactly what you or someone you know could be going through. Again, I appreciate the time you’re taking to read about this pressing subject.


What does NIU’s counseling center do for students?

The university counseling center has a wide range of things to provide for the students of NIU. The services are broken down into sub-groups of Advocacy and Consultation. Both are staffed by fully trained APA accredited and multi-disciplinary/psychologically licensed psychologists, counselors and social workers:

Advocacy Services- Provides services for individuals who have been impacted by sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. The service is provided to help students feel safe and offer support.  Students will also be given the opportunity to work with another office outside of the counseling center to address concerns from a legal standpoint.

Consultation Services- This service is provided for students and/or Faculty to assist  someone who may need counseling services.  This service is available to everyone on campus and also includes same-day walk-ins.   Walk-in participants fill out simple paper work and then sit down with a staff member. Once you’re done meeting with a counselor, you can join a women’s group, men’s group, a transpire group (for people who identify as transgender), and even a general process group (for anyone).

There is also a relaxation/meditation group that meets every Monday at noon. With this group, people can come in and do some relaxation strategies: like working on your breathing, imagery meditation, and lessons on slowing down and relaxing.

The second Monday of each month also brings therapy dogs into Stevenson from 6-7:15pm, can you think of a better way to spend your Monday night?!

Additionally, this service provides 24/7 over the phone crisis support, which means services are available in a crisis situation.  A student would need to call the NIU’s non emergency number (815) 753-1212) and then ask to be directed to a counselor. From there, an on-call licensed counselor will talk with you for as little or as much as you need in order to feel comfortable and safe.


What are some signs to look for in yourself or in a friend?

The points I am about to list are something that can be for you or for a friend. Being aware of how you’re feeling is important, but it also is important to question how your friends and family are acting, because these could be clues that those people are reaching out to you for help. The more aware you are, the better off everyone, including yourself, is. Remember, college is about transition and self-exploration. It is okay to feel like you’re not fitting with a specific group, but just know your exploration is normal. You can never explore too much to find out who you are. Things to look out for in your everyday routine are as follows.

  1. Look at sleep patterns, are you sleeping enough? Maybe you need to try to go to bed earlier so you can be fully rested. Also, are you not sleeping because there is a problem? Or are you just very busy.
  2. If you start to not sleep as much but then wake up and have little to no interest in anything that you should be doing, you may want to talk that out with someone.
  3. You sense yourself/friend beginning to isolate from others. Are you especially isolating yourself from close friends and family?
  4. You start to see shifts in your mood
  5. Your academic performance is suffering, and you never want to go to class anymore
  6. Having thoughts of just ending it all, and having ideas of “what if I just did __” and that blank resulted in harm to others or yourself.
  7. You’re more irritable, and your irritability lasts much longer than normal
  8. You find yourself filling a missing piece in your psyche with substances. You feel the need to fill the “hole in your heart” with substances that only worsen the damage.

If any of these become an issue you may want to follow up with that person, or yourself, and seek someone to talk with about your thoughts, you’re never ever alone in this world and no matter how isolated you feel, someone is always willing to help you. That said, you can definitely help out others if you sense someone having issues.


How to cope when you have issues or you see someone with issues:

  1. Always encourage seeking professional support. These people are professionals for a reason, they are willing to work around your schedule and will help you out immensely in full disclosure.
  2. Reach out to your family and friends. Sometimes it’s the people who know you the best who can help you the best.
  3. Exercise! By exercising you release chemicals into your system that will make you feel invigorated and happy!
  4. Being connected and constantly moving with groups and activities around campus. When you are part of something that is bigger than yourself, you get the feeling of accomplishment and can use that busy time to forget about what’s bothering you, sometimes that’s all you need to get over that psychological hurdle.

Sometimes when something is hitting you close to home, you feel the need to act and help out. We all have been in this situation and it is not fun, but we all should be prepared to act when we sense someone close to us feeling extremely down.


How should you behave when you sense someone is in danger?

  • It’s always an uncomfortable situation, but you need to know that it is possible that you are the only escape your friend/family member has. If you’re strong, they will in turn be strong in the long run.
  • You can say something along the lines of:
    • “I’ve noticed you’re not happy/ have been disconnected lately.”
    • “Maybe you and I should go for a walk.” From there the situation will be much more friendly for talking. Take a walk past the Campus Life Building and encourage a stop into NIU Counseling together.
  • Encouraging to go together makes the experience much less stressful. You can also say that you’re going for yourself too, as a way to not isolate your friend.
  • The Counseling Center has a lot of leverage on your side, you can almost use these tools as a way to get people happily in the door:
    • Massage Chair
    • Therapy dogs
    • Talk sessions

Now that you have experienced a little about how to go about a situation and what to look out for, it is also important to know all of the resources available to you as a student.


What resources are available on campus?

There are three other counseling centers, these are through the academic programs in:

  • Community Counseling Training Center- Counselors of Education in Graham Hall (master and doctoral students)
  • Psychological Service Center – Department of Psychology in the Psychology Building (master level and doctoral students)
  • Couple Family Therapy Clinic – Marriage and Family Therapy Program (in Wirtz Hall) (master level students)

All the counseling centers outside of the center in the Campus Life Building will see everyone, including people in the community, just in case you want to refer a friend or family member who is not a current NIU student. The other centers that I listed above will also do evening hours as well. All of these are free except for the Family Clinic. The center in the Campus Life Building is for NIU students only.


What events are coming up to help students?

  • Thursday Oct. 8th from 2:00 – 7:15pm in the Holmes Student Center:

How the Health are you, NIU?  This is fun and active way to come and have a relaxed time and receive help if you believe that is what will make you feel as best as you can.  This is change from the names of the previous “depression screenings” as a name change does not have that stigma that the word “depression” carries.

People think that just because they feel depressed that there is something wrong with them. The truth is, nothing’s wrong with you, you may just simply need someone to talk to as the stresses of the world can become too much for everyone. It’s always okay to talk about how your feel, and it is also always okay to feel the way you feel.

  • Other centers on campus also agree with the cause and are collaborating to put on this event.
    • Campus Rec
    • Health Services
    • Wellness Promotion
    • Living Right
  1. There will also be depression screening available for everyone, along with a workshop filled with student activities like:
    • A coloring area to express your emotions on paper
    • Board games and icebreakers
    • Wheel to ask questions and win some prizes
    • Posters about expressing your positivity
    • Power points with inspirational and positive messages to warm your heart
  2. Extras to release negative energy:
    • Poetic Asylum, to express your feelings in the art of poetry. Relate with others using your emotions in “the spoken word.” (Personal storytelling, and wordplay).
    • Dances from: Nimbus, Zumba dance classes
    • Therapy Dogs, because who doesn’t love dogs?! (Besides some cat lovers of course).
    • NIU SnapChat photo frames
  3. Prizes to win!
    • Chipotle, Buy One Get One Free,  coupons
    • Northern Rehab gift cards
    • Pita Pete’s gift cards
    • Huddle gift cards


What can you do right now without going public?

So, what can you do right now, before you go to someone and open up information that you maybe don’t want to disclose? That’s understandable, and also why self-rehab may be the key first step to take. The list that follows contains examples of what you can do:

1. Write and draw your mind

    • Express what you’re thinking and get things on paper
    • Just simply find time to pause and write down everything, mind dump on the paper to realize what you have actually been thinking
    • Sometimes you don’t even realize what exactly is bothering you, until you get it onto paper. It’s a healthy way to tell your story to yourself for reflection

2. Make sure you get out and get some sun

    • Going for a walk and exposing yourself to the sun is great for your mind and spirit

3. Find a hobby and dive into it

    • When you devote yourself to a hobby you become focused in that and relax yourself from what could be bothering you
    • Cooking is something that you can do everyday and serves as a double purpose in becoming healthier as well!

4. Simple call to a friend or family member

5. Pay attention to everything that you’re putting into your system

    • Look as what is around your house, and remove any negative imagery, books, anything that can put a negative aura in your line of sight
    • Media and food and fast paced actions through your day really put negative stressors on your body, and reflect how you’re feeling

6. Comedy and laughter are some of the best things for you

    • It warms your up, and shifts your muscles around in your mouth and face to stretch out your whole body
    • Find a comedian you like TODAY and start watching bits.  Some clean and funny comedians are:
      • Jim Gaffigan
      • John Mullaney
      • Demetri Martin
      • Brian Regan
      • Russell Peters
      • Kathy Griffin

7. Yoga is a very good way to relax your body and mind

8. Creative therapeutics

    • Office that provides people the opportunity to do yoga and physical therapy
    • In DeKalb on Hillcrest


I really tried to make this article as informational as possible, between research and interviews I hope that some of this knowledge related to someone. If any of this even helped one person, the article did its job. Remember again, everyone on this earth is beautiful, inside and out, and never let anyone tell you otherwise. Someone who criticises you is only doing that to cover up something they have been hiding from the world. Not to mention that since we all are human beings, none of us is perfect, we all have been through tough times we never thought we would get out of. But here we are, enjoying life and being the beautiful people we were meant to be. That also brings me to my last point, we all have a story to tell, and memories to share. That said, we all have had the tough times too, so if you’re feeling down, speak up, because I promise you someone will be willing to listen.

Thank you all for your time, and as always, don’t forget to be awesome.

~ Louie


What’s Your CAUSE?


Editors note: It seems like when you start to join organizations, a snowball effect starts to form and you simply cannot stop joining and making a difference. It’s so true though, the feeling you get when contributing to something bigger than yourself is truly amazing. As everyone knows, when you start to get very busy, you can only pick one or two of the best organizations to be part of.  CAUSE is the staple of all organizations in that it is fit for everyone, so taking a look at what these people do for the school and the community, was a no brainer. As always, if you like what I do, feel free to follow me on social media @LOUIEZMICH. Hope you all enjoy!

 CAUSE, we see it everywhere, you smell it on Thursdays and join us on events such as the Social Impact Summit, but what is CAUSE? (And what is the Social Impact Summit, you say?) CAUSE is the Collegiate Association of Unreasonable Social Entrepreneurs…I hear the typing right now, “Why Unreasonable?” Well, Gerorge Shaw, said it best…in fact it’s his quote: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” This is the foundation of CAUSE, and this student run organization is anything but reasonable when it comes to establishing itself as  the top dog in fundraising and community contribution.

Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Dropbox:Camera Uploads:2015-09-10 10.16.33.jpg

 Who are those people selling glorious pizza on Thursdays? CAUSE, the idea was simple, CAUSE wanted to offer pizza to students, that seemed to be the only thing that student count not manage to receive when studying in Barsema. This was the idea that sparked the prestigious phenomenon that fills the atrium with hungry people and smells that intoxicate. The students at CAUSE hand make the Pizza Pros’ pizzas on Thursday mornings at 9:45am sharp and literally top, spread, and bake all the ingredients by hand and personally deliver the pizzas to Barsema Hall to sell them promptly at 11am. Only challenge? Staying in stock! The weekly fundraiser is from 11am-1pm, and the organization almost never makes it past 12:30pm, as the demand is just too high. CAUSE has even maxed out Pizza Pros’ ovens at 24 pizzas, and we still cannot keep enough on hand. Sounds like people need to order up right when they can. Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:photo2-e1406646253633.jpg

Besides having long lines for their fantastic pizzas, CAUSE goes way beyond fundraising. CAUSE is most definitely leading the charge in donations around the world. This year, CAUSE has decided to do donations a little bit differently  by donating 50% of profits from pizza sales each month to a helpful organization of the student body’s choice from around the world. This month, CAUSE is donating their proceeds to Nicole Swedlow and Entreamigos! (Pictured below). CAUSE is also doing something amazing, and offering a scholarship to qualified NIU students at the end of the 2015-2016 school year. Simply a testament of how powerful and large this organization is becoming.

The truth is, CAUSE is about sharing and increasing the impact in the community. Going beyond NIU is simply another facet of being unreasonably bold. It’s like a pond ripple effect and CAUSE is making a big splash. Expanding out to other Universities and schools over time, just feel like the only way to move forward that would fully satisfy everyone’s hunger in this organization. It really is amazing to think that something that literally started as pizza sales in the atrium has blossomed so much that the thought of expansion is now a legitimate idea being discussed. Who knows, maybe down the line, high schools and universities across the country could have their very own CAUSE!

Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:Selling+CAUSE+Pizza.jpgCAUSE has become, over time, it’s own Social Entrepreneurial business. The meetings are run like a business, finances are conducted like a business. When said plan becomes a hit, the only thing an unreasonable person would think, would we be to go and get more people around the world to care and help out with others. The leading factor in the outreach is by far the success of the Social Impact summit.

The Social Impact Summit was started in 2013 and had the goal in mind of combining students, professionals, and professors with expertise in the social space into one large summit where networking, startups and entrepreneurs could thrive. This is the big time, this is what the entire team works for through the year. The Summit is held every April in the Barsema Alumni Visitor’s Center and consists of a full day of keynote speakers combined with breakout panels and a networking lunch giving opportunities to students just like you who want to make a difference. The entire event is funded by the pizza sales and companies willing to donate. This is amazing, companies are willing to sponsor a completely student run event because that’s the kind of people they want! Innovators, risk takers, and people who just simply get things done. Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:Social+Impact+Summit.png

The Social Impact Summit also goes a step further and conducts their annual “Pitch With A CAUSE” competition. This is a competition for anyone who has an idea for a business that makes a positive social or environmental impact. It basically is Shark Tank but for NIU, literally. There is a panel of professionals in this field, who work together to ask questions and pick a winner for the grand prize of $1,500! People from around the world come to pitch their cause. No joke, a group from Hungary came last year, simply wonderful! The day is full of wonderful things for everyone, good food, and great organizations to network with and sometimes purchase goodies from, not to mention the keynote speakers who will most definitely catch your interest. April should be your go to month to really jump start your career in a fantastic direction.

Innovate. Impact. Be unreasonable, that has always been the model for CAUSE and never straying away from that model has brought ample success. When asking a CAUSE member, “What does CAUSE do?” you will never get the same answer, simply put, we do so much. CAUSE never puts down a new idea and not only has become its own pizza business, but has also become a networking powerhouse and central hub for innovation and excellence from speakers to donations.

Thank you all for letting me try to express exactly what CAUSE does, and maybe this sparks your interest in something else to join. If you’re interesting in joining, feel free to stop by Barsema Hall Room 219 on Wednesday’s from 5-6pm and don’t forget to go to http://www.niucause.com for all the updates on what is going on in the CAUSE world, and as always, hope to see you on Thursday’s for pizza!

As for now, as always this is Louie telling you to stay awesome and do something to change the world!

Thank you everyone,

  Louis Zmich HD:Users:LouisZmich:Downloads:logo.jpg

~ Louie

A Picture Perfect Adventure: Datta Prakash

Editor’s Note: Before I got a chance to sit down with Datta I was first introduced to him through his Flickr page, and his photography. That’s him in the photo above, and in fact he took every photo in this post.  His images are truly organic and really breathtaking, which made me want to learn more. When we met, the conversation ran the gamut from his interest in photography, business to college life. I decided to turn this into a full document instead of an interview transcript, just to make it more fluid, but let’s dive into the conversation!

Go check Datta out on Flickr: flickr.com/dattaprakash

Please welcome in Datta, and enjoy!

Datta Prakash – a master of information systems (MIS) student – has an incredible knack for the arts along with a passion for business (coupled with an undergraduate focus in enigineering).  But before we go any further with this story, check out another one of Datta’s photos (all the images in this post are his photography).  This one (below) is Datta’s capture of a magnificent lion:

Wow, right?  And what a reminder of how important it is to not take for granted the variety of beauty that is around us. Scenery and nature really paint a beautiful picture of where we are.  For most of us at NIU, the majority of us have lived our whole lives in the U.S.  Not so for Datta, who was born and raised in India.

As he ventured to the United States for the first time, he brought along his undergraduate engineering degree and his camera and embarked on a new adventure he most likely will never forget.  This was only one month ago.  I’m fortunate to have had a chance to sit down with him and find out how his transition to NIU has been so far.  And also to welcome him to the U.S. and into the Huskie family.

You can imagine the first question in my mind:  how did he even know about NIU all the way in India? I have to admit that what Datta shared about NIU’s reputation in India was really cool to hear.

“In India, the NIU degree is well known and sought after,” Datta said.  “Also, employers back home know that when a student completes a master degree in the USA, they really have someone special.”

And getting that confirmed by a friend doesn’t hurt either.

“I have a friend who is enrolled in master coursework here.  We stayed in touch while I was in India.  So I’ve heard a lot of good things from him about what he has experienced firsthand at NIU.”

That feedback was enough to convince Datta.  That, and a review of the college website and a comparison against a couple of other schools just to verify that NIU’s curriculum and classes were much better suited to his interests.  And they are. 

Now fast-forward to a month ago – only ONE month ago – when Datta traveled half way around the world to a country where he knew only one other person.

“It was a little intimidating,” Datta admitted, when asked what it was like to travel alone half-way around the world to a place where he didn’t know many people.  “But my friend who was already here helped me to meet other people.  Everyone has been very nice.  I quickly broadened my circle of friends.”

And he quickly found an apartment near campus, allowing him to rest easy about housing worries so he could concentrate on the boatload of information systems classes he signed up for. Talk about a whirlwind right? It’s hard to put myself in those shoes.  Not knowing some of the people at a new school is one thing, but going to a whole new country and then starting your master degree on top of it must have been a huge challenge.

If that was true for Datta, you wouldn’t know it.  Right off the bat Datta jumped into university life.  His long list of things to do includes going to Rocky Mountain National Park for the first time and representing NIU’s cricket club in the upcoming American College Cricket Tournament.  Right away he’s utilizing the Cricketing skills he honed in India when he was Captain of his Methodist College team there.

Datta also plans to get back to his roots, back to his instinct to photograph life.  He’s entirely self-taught in this art and instinctively seeks out the world to capture what it reveals.

His travel plans here include visiting many states (and definitely the Grand Canyon!) and taking in as much of the country as he can … much like his approach in India (the location for the vast majority of his photos so far).  His favorite mode of transportation when it comes to sightseeing?  Hikes or long walks.  Some of his journeys in India were so long in fact that his family would force him to come home otherwise risk losing him to the wilderness and his camera. 

Speaking of which, you sense from his images that Datta has seen a lot, including a variety of different cultures.

This led me to ask about the differences he may have noticed now that he has settled into the United States.  I find it fascinating to see the country I have always lived in through someone else’s eyes who has only been here a month.

It was intriguing to hear that the social interactions here  – things like people in Barsema Hall saying hello and good morning – happen much more frequently than they do in India.  Particularly because our society is always “plugged in” and distracted by so many different devices.

“The United States is much more organized – even if there are many devices and distractions, as you say – than what I’ve seen in other places.  The roads, the traffic, the way people do things.  It’s much more orderly.  People are polite to each other,” Datta elaborated.  In terms of university life, he shared the same observation.  “Clubs and teams and diversity centers…there’s just so much more to get involved with here.  All of it is organized so clearly.  And Greek Life…well, that’s something I’ve never seen before.”

There was one surprising thing that Datta was very familiar with before he arrived in the U.S. He’s well broken into the music space, specifically hard rock and heavy metal.  Metallica, Pantera and Iron Maiden are his favorite bands that he listens to all the time. We had a very nice moment where music really brought us together.  In an instant we both related to the same bands and the same interests. Seems like a world away, but really when we take the time to discover it, there’s a lot we all share in common.

Moving from somewhere nice and comforting to facing a whole new world by yourself is something that I admire, I think that courage along with his innovation 

and passion for new ideas really stands him apart.

I think it’s only fitting to leave you with more from Datta himself when asked how tough it was to go 100% on his own to a place he had never been:

“Change in life is something that makes you grow. I’ve been an introvert most of my years so far but I always had that interest to explore new places, travel alone and learn to adapt myself to different environments. I faced the same problems just like a typical foreign student would face initially, but life’s getting easier because I am learning to get adapted to this new country by being more expressive and interactive than I used to be. I still do miss my home country’s food though (smiles).”  (Datta explained that his hometown of Hyderabad is known for having the best food in India.  Here’s hoping that maybe DeKalb will continue to offer more diverse food as time goes on!)

Thank you all for joining me on this great interview, and I hope you found it as interesting as I did.

Thank you again, and as always, doesn’t forget to be awesome today.


PS. I had to include just a couple more photos from Datta.  Do check out his flickr account (link at the top of the post) for more.  He is just truly amazing, I will be getting lessons from him soon for sure.


Seriously, go check him out. You’ll be glad you did. ~ Louie

Mastering the art of note taking

Editors note: Hello everyone, Louie again. I figured the beginning of the year would be a great time to talk about the power of taking good notes in class. The quality of your notes greatly reflects on how well you do in class, and with classes getting more and more difficult as you get closer to graduation, there’s no better time than to brush up on your note taking skills. After taking a whole seminar over the summer on note taking, (I know, riveting). I wanted to share some information I had learned. As always, I hope you enjoy, and feel free to reach out to me @LOUIEZMICH on all social media.

 It seems simple enough, but taking notes that are efficient and effective is not a simple task. If you’re anything like me, professors talk so fast and everything seems so important, you end up writing so much down but never getting it all because your hand can’t write that fast. Note taking doesn’t just begin when you sit down in the classroom; it actually begins before you even go to class.

1. Read beforehand.

Unfortunately, you heard me correctly; you will have to read the book before you go to class. The reason for this, simply put, is your brain cannot function and comprehend brand new material when you’re being lectured simultaneously. Think about it, how many times have you been extremely focused in class and never had your mind wonder at all? Odds are, not many, so when you’re in class you want to have some idea of what is next to come.  This way you can write down topics that clear up what you didn’t understand before you came into class, and not write down concepts you already understood while reading before hand.

Now, before you go to class you do not have to read the entire chapter word for word, but what you should do is the following.

  • Read the first and last sentence of every paragraph, and make headers for each new topic in your notes.
  • Read and understand every bolded word.
  • Read the entire summary at the end of each chapter.
  • Make note of concepts and words you didn’t understand before the lecture.

See, that’s not too hard to do, but it is exponentially important before you go to class to have this mental mindset in place. You will never be caught off guard if you follow those steps because you will know what is coming, and have an idea of what is being talked about before you listen in on the lecture. This is also helpful because if you do doze off, or your mind wanders, you will know right where your place was in class as marked by your notes.

2. 24 Hour “Shot Clock.”

Now that you did all this preparation before class, it is crucial that you get into a routine (foreshadowing for the next post) of reviewing your notes no more than 24 hours after lecture. This is very important if your goal is to learn and comprehend the information. Unless you’re trying to memorize something to then forget it later, you what to actually learn the material from class. By going back and re-reading your notes, you still have a mental image of the lecture in your mind. Research published in the Teaching of Psychology Journal in the ’80s concluded that students were messing up on their tests not because they’d taken bad notes, but because they weren’t re-reading them before the exams. If you have the opportunity, and choose to record your lectures, make sure you follow along in your notes as you re-watch the lecture. This act of visiting your notes within 24 hours of your lecture is a great way to remember what you were thinking as you were writing in class. Make sure you ingrain that information in your head while it’s still fresh, that way the next time you have class, you will have already reviewed the material. By the time of the exam you will be able to recite your notes without looking at them. Which means no more cramming either.

3.   Be OCD with your notes, and be creative. 

You want your notes to be as professional and organized as possible. It will not benefit you at all if your notes are all over the place. You need to be able to sit down again and again and know exactly what you wrote down and when. Simple things like headings, dates, and titles are perfect with keeping on task with your notes. Your notes should have a variation for your own style, but should look slightly organized like this:

How to become a better person                             09/02/2015

  • Read good blog posts.
    • Louie Zmich has great ideas
  • Go to a great college
    • Northern Illinois University has great degree programs

Why becoming a better person is crucial in life

  • Better people have more friends
    • Studies show, this is because people will like you
  • Better people, are healthier people
    • You wont be stressed about how people don’t like you


In order to become a better, healthier, and more popular person, you must be enrolled with NIU and read Louie’s blog posts.

With notes like these, all joking aside, you will be more organized and know right where your thoughts were on every topic. You also want to include pictures in your notes as well. Drawing releases a lot of your creative side and inspires your mind to capture the thought better when something is drawn out. Make an image on paper to enhance the idea that you are trying to capture in your notes.

 4. Take Breaks.

The typical meeting format of continuous talking and     simultaneous scribbling might not be ideal for optimum note taking. It turns out that everyone might not listen and write well when trying to do both at the same time. The Journal of Educational Psychology researched lecture structures and found that incorporating periodic short breaks greatly improved the quality of notes taken. One way to approach this would be to have little moments of quiet writing reflection in between meeting agenda items. Wouldn’t that be pleasant?

I think it’s time for everyone to stop cramming before exams and to start being prepared before the exam date comes around and sneaks up on you. Even though that is a loaded statement, hopefully if you follow these tips you will eventually be a master note taker. Everyone has had that feeling of accomplishment when walking out of a lecture actually understanding what went on. You feel secure and ready for the exam, and that was just after one lecture. Imagine having that feeling all the time because you were ready before, during and after the lecture by being prepared and great at marking down your lectures.

I hope this has been some help to you, and hopefully this year has been made a bit less stressful by the power of note taking.

As always, thank you and don’t forget to be awesome today,


Whoa, whoa…who is this Lou guy?

Red Rock Cannon – Las Vegas, Nevada

Editors note: As you probably have already read from Mr. Ferguson, my name is Louie Zmich and I am filling the deep shoes left for me from Jake as the new Social Media and Marketing Intern here at NIU. This post is just to introduce myself and let everyone know who I am and what I’m all about. This will also be a good opportunity to say my vision for the blog posts and the direction I would like to take everything. As always you can fine me on all social media (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn(LouisZmich)) @LouieZmich. Let’s get to it!


So who am I? Well, to put it simply: I am a laid back, Type A, extroverted, outdoorsmen with a spiritually grounded earthy side to him, who’s role model is Theodore Roosevelt. Sounds like a huge contradiction right, my role model is a powerful well rounded enforcer, (President in 1901 – 1909, and accomplished more than I can ever type), but I also like to connect with people on a spiritual basis, how can this be?! Well, I pride myself on that to be honest. I am the type of person to embrace every hobby thrown my way; life is too amazing and wonderful to put people down for anything they love in my opinion. That being said, I also live my life by the attitude of, “Do things everyday that make you the best version of yourself.” What I mean by this, Is to do things in your everyday life that allow you to grow as a better version of yourself when you go to bed, than when you woke up. This can range from a simple task to complex life long goals, the bottom line is that you’re becoming a better person to make the world a better place, and that is what I’m all about.


But, I’m also a realist, and I know that sometimes when life gets in the way things become very stressful. So, to relieve unnecessary stress I love being outdoors (As pictured above in the Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas), and being active with sports and loving my family and friends. Board game nights, philosophy and cooking sessions along with camping, football and bike rides are not out of the ordinary for me what so ever.


A little bit about my background is that I have changed my major so many times. When I was a young little Italian boy I thought I wanted to be an Architect, simply because I liked math and I was a creative drawer (The logic of a seven year old). That changed into engineering as I grew into my high school years because I loved learning how the world worked. From there I changed from learning how the world works to learning how the mind works, and I majored in Psychology and Philosophy while I played golf at Elmhurst College. Business started to spark my interest because of being on the golf course and dealing with businessmen all the time at country clubs and what have you. So I tried to find something that not only involved the secrets of the mind, but also the study of business as well. Thus, NIU was my choice and Marketing was my career path. Funny how things work out isn’t it? After just typing that, and seeing it on my screen, it really makes a mental map in my head that’s rather logical; the transitions you make in life as person are just so fascinating to me. Everything truly happens for a reason and until you take a step back and look at your life road map, you would think it never made sense. But anyway, I am a junior this year, (major changes pushed me back a year) and loving every second at NIU. But enough about me, let’s move onto my vision of this blog.


Okay, so I lied this is about me, but only my thoughts! Everything else is content for you, the viewer, I promise. So my goal is to produce one article a week on a range of topics. Some will be things that I think the student body would be interested in, and other topics may be something happening around campus that needs to have the word spread about. Regardless, I really enjoy making these posts and I hope that I can reach out to some people with my thoughts and ideas! I also want to make guest posts as frequent as possible and not just have me blabbering all the time about who knows what. I am always on social media throughout the day so feel free to reach out to me, always looking to chat about life and crazy topics with people and just make new friends. I will also be updating all the College of Business social media pages, so be sure to keep up with those as well.


Well everyone, I again thank you for you sticking with me with this article and I hope you gathered a little more insight on who I am and what to expect from me in the future. Hopefully together we can make NIU a better place than when we came in, and hopefully we leave better people than when we woke up this morning.


Until next time, take care, and don’t forget to be awesome.


Louie Zmich



Goodbye for Now

Editor’s Note: Hello! Or should I be saying goodbye? For those of you who are just tuning in my name is Jacob Ferguson and I am now a proud alumnus of Northern Illinois University where I graduated with a bachelor degree in Operations Management & Information Systems (OM&IS). Before we get started with my final post I would just like to thank all of you who followed my journey at NIU and let you know that the real journey has only just begun. With that being said, you are in for a real treat this year as we welcome a stellar new Marketing and Social Media Intern who has his eyes set on raising the bar. If you would like to stay in touch with me or learn more about me please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jacob-ferguson/49/121/998 or follow me on Twitter: @JacobFerguson53.


Goodbye for Now (…but only for now)

It’s bittersweet. When the discussion of writing my final post for the Student Voices Blog came up I honestly thought that the day would never come. It always seemed so far off but here I sit pressing keys on a keyboard and spilling my thoughts hoping that I can capture everything that has been running through my mind since I was asked what I would say. With that being said, I will do my best to keep it short and sweet.

My time at NIU was invaluable and my experience serving as the Marketing and Social Media Intern for NIU’s College of Business was truly one of a kind. I was fortunate enough to have been blessed with a plethora of opportunities that set me up for success and ultimately help shape me into the person I am today. I am forever grateful for what NIU has done for me and am looking forward to continuing to create my legacy.

You might be asking, what am I up to these days? The answer to that question is that I get to serve as a City Year AmeriCorps Member at John Hope College Preparatory High School in Chicago for the next 10 months where I will serve as a tutor and mentor to freshmen and sophomore students in an effort to increase graduation rates and make an impact in the lives of the students that we serve. City Year, for those who don’t know, aims to bridge the gap between what schools and teachers can provide and what students actually need.

Without further ado, it is my great privilege to introduce the new Marketing and Social Media Intern for the College of Business, Louie Zmich. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with Louie in the past and I know he is up for the challenge. Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled as he will be formally introducing himself in the coming days.

Finally, I will leave with a quote that stuck with me throughout college as I hope you will find some meaning and inspiration in the same way that I did.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

I wish you all the best of luck this year. Go Huskies!

The Start of a New Beginning: My Journey to NIU

Editors Note: Hello everyone, I want to introduce myself before I start this article. My name is Louie Zmich, and I am a transfer student from Harper College, a community college in Palatine, before that I went to Elmhurst College. So this entry is going to be about my journey here to NIU and what it was like in the transition into a bigger school while transferring over credits from two different colleges. If you would like to know more about me you can follow me on all social media @LOUIEZMICH and check out my Beard and Mustache club that’s here at NIU on Facebook to find out what we’re all about, simply search “NIU Beard and Mustache Club.” Enjoy!

(I am the gent on the left.)

Transfer Student Experience - Louis Zmich

Transfer Student Experience - Louis Zmich

What was it like transferring to Northern Illinois University; honestly, I would describe the overall situation as being very smooth and welcoming for the most part. I am a firm believer in the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” That being said, NIU was always one of my top picks for schools, but when I graduated high school my number one priority was going to schools that offered me the opportunity to play golf, and was close to home in order to be close with my family. Elmhurst College fit the bill, as I was not only able to play golf, but I was also able to study Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy at a school that was known for those majors, it was perfect, until everything came to a halt. Elmhurst College was a private school and tuition was a monster to pay for. Not only that, but since it was so expensive, I had to commute an hour round trip everyday just to get to classes. It just didn’t even feel like I was attending a university because at the end of the day I was back in my parent’s house. From Elmhurst College I saved some money at the community college, Harper College, but I quickly realized that even though I was passionate in Psychology, Sociology and Philosophy, my personality was much more suited for the world of Business. I just loved the concept of meeting new people while being professional, and working my way into the corporate world was something that really got the gears turning in my head. It also helped that the majors I listed above were great assets to have to put towards the Business world.

Even though I had decided on Business, my decision was still not set on NIU. My gut feeling kept telling me NIU, but all of my friends were going to schools in the city, and loving the city life, so naturally I was pulled to follow my friends. I felt that universities in the city just did not match the needs I wanted. NIU is a big college but professors here do not treat you as just another number, they actually want to sit down with you and help you succeed. Any college can say that, but I experienced it first hand when sitting in on classes and talking to students at universities in Chicago. That reason alone spoke wonders about the staff at NIU, and that goes a long way in my book, after all isn’t that what you’re paying for? Plus, NIU has a wonderful bus system that will honestly take you anywhere you’re looking to go, even to the train station to travel to the city, so it was a win, win. NIU even has an app that is constantly being updated and shows you where the bus is, in real time, you cannot get anymore convenient than that. Right off the bat, the fact that the people on the phone and in the classroom were so accommodating to all my questions, along with transportation to visit my friends, left me excited to find out more about the school. When I came to visit, I was pleasantly surprised.

The DeKalb area felt very welcoming to me, some people do not appreciate these little things but I sure do; the little mom and pop shops, the small farms down the road selling their farm made produce, and all the old homes that have been here for almost a century. That stuff really pulls me in, and I had not even gotten to the school yet, so overall it had a small town feel with a big school atmosphere, everywhere you went, people were supporting the NIU Huskies, I loved that.  After our tour of the school I realized something very important to me, besides the cool places around campus, like comic shops, places to eat, and the old nostalgia the buildings had, to the beautiful new buildings on campus, I realized that NIU really took the time to make sure you got involved and fit In wherever you were coming from. Sure other schools do that too, but everyone I met, professors, and TA’s all gave me their Business card and actually made me feel like I could contact them anytime and ask questions, little things like that really resonate with me, and trust me, I have made connections with professors from contacting them and meeting with them. On top of that, NIU has a wonderful program connected to all the community colleges and Universities in the area, where your credits easily transfer over. I honestly didn’t have any credits get misplaced when transferring in, and as you may know, that is quite stressful not knowing if something will transfer over, NIU made that very easy to achieve.

So, I got accepted and I’m ready to move out, what’s next. Well, I need a job to pay my bills, and more importantly I need a place to live. This was my only gripe through this process, was finding a place to live. Quite frankly the housing on campus is just inconvenient for me, the price tag is just not obtainable for me at all, but I do have to say that I would have met much more people a lot sooner if I had stayed in the dorms, so maybe you’re also paying for the convenience. So, dorm living and apartment living in Northern View, was just not an option for me personally, but I would have loved to stay in the dorms to meet all the cool people and participate in the floor activities. After looking around at the local housing situations, I decided that I was best suited with a private company with a small owner. To me, it fit my needs because I was able to have a relationship with the owner and have a landlord that I knew personally after a while. That is just my style, but it certainly was welcoming to see so many housing options, there is an option for everyone’s living wants and needs. So once I made that realization, I then looked at the private companies around campus, and I could not have made a better decision. I ended up going with D & J Properties, a small company owned by Dan and Joe Sears. Cheap, close to campus, and the brothers live in the neighborhood, so anything that goes wrong, they are around within the hour, it really was a perfect fit, I could walk to campus and still pay for myself to live on my own.

My next objective before even coming to this school was to get involved and find a job. This section right here is what I think NIU strives, there are so many clubs and organizations on campus, you honestly will not be getting the full experience if you do not join something. Seriously, professionalism aside, get off the couch and join a club, you will be happy you did. There are so many choices for jobs and activates, it’s a bit ridiculous, but in a good way. I applied to a lot of jobs on campus, and they were all responsive in a timely manner, but I ended up taking a job at the Police Department on campus being a student patroller. The Chief of Police here honestly has done so much work over the last two years he has been in office. As students, it really feels like the officers are understanding at the fact that you’re going to go out on the weekend, so there are no questioned asked services like walking escorts home, and buss services like Late Night Ride, as long as you’re being safe and getting home safe, you’ll have a way back to your bed at the end of the night. Just for your sake, and the officer’s sake, be respectful and they will respect you. That’s so comforting to me, and I’m sure it’s comforting for your parents to hear as well. Everything is so close to campus as it is, so the walks home aren’t that long anyway, but a warm buss on a DeKalb winter night cannot be passed up, trusts me. The Police Department fit my schedule needed, as the job is overnight work, and it gave me a chance to move up in the company as next year I will be a supervisor on the team for Huskie Patrol, what a great experience.

Lastly I wanted to talk about clubs and organizations, there are seriously too many to choose from. An entire gym full of tables has rows and rows of clubs and organizations to choose from. Sports to hobbies and Greek life, you name it they have it. Well, maybe not everything, so why not start your own? That’s what I did, I wanted to create a club that taught boys how to be functioning men of society, to teach how to dress, speak, and treat women the way our grandparents did. So, I had the idea and ran with it! You only need one other person to back you up and you can start your own club, and boom, the Beard and Mustache Club of NIU was born. Now, it’s more complicated than that to have your club recognized by the school, but you can find that out on your own, you just need faculty members to get involved and most are accommodating. But seriously, join something, no excuses, when you join a club you are going to make friends who instantly have the same interest as you, and that is so valuable, trust me, sometimes it’s about who you know in life and what hands you shook, and you can only do that when you get involved. I personally joined the Ultimate Frisbee club, Bowling Club, and started my own club in a matter of weeks being here. Unfortunately the Ultimate Frisbee and Bowling Team did not really fit my schedule for the semesters, but along with scheduling issues I also decided to try and join the Profession Business Fraternity of Delta Sigma Pi, I currently am a pledge and I can say it honestly has been the best time I have had at NIU so far, seriously, again, join something, make friends and just get involved. So many people probably have told you the same thing, but its true, I cannot stress enough how enjoyable my time here has been because of these clubs and organizations. With a little hard work you really can go far here.

So besides the small things I said about the school, I really only scratched the surface, I glanced over the fact that there’s tutors all the time ready to help you, and most of the professors are ready to jump by your side.  The campus is full of tools and just like anything in life, you get out what you put into it, if you come in here just wanting to coast by, you’re going to get an experience that fits the bill. If you try new things, meet new people and really get involved, you never know whom you are going to meet. More importantly, you don’t want to look back on your college experience and realize that you didn’t take advantage of everything this school gives you, from the surrounding town, to finances and activities, I am glad I transferred and switched my major, because the three years I now have here, I know are going to be some of the best years of my life. Good luck on your journey, and hopefully your experience is going to be just like mine, amazing.

Letter to Present Self: College Edition

Editor’s Note: Hello! It’s Jacob Ferguson again, the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business. I hope you all are surviving midterms and looking forward to Spring Break just as much as I am. Just a few days from now and I’ll be cruising along the Western Caribbean with some of my best friends. The goal of this Student Voices post is primarily to reflect on the present as well as share some of the advice that I would give my present self. I’ve already written to my past self so I thought it would be fun to write a letter to myself in the now. If you would like to learn more about me please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.

Jacob Ferguson - College of Business Marketing and Social Media Intern

Jacob Ferguson - College of Business Marketing and Social Media Intern

Hello Jacob,

I hope all is well and that you are making the most of your last semester of college. The end is near, so do not give up. I know that you think you know it all but I am here to tell you that you don’t and that is perfectly okay. I am writing you to share with you some advice that might make it a little easier. Keep what I tell you in mind but remember to make your own mistakes because that is the only way you will learn. Here goes nothing…

  • Senioritis does exist and you will catch a mild case of it. It is important that you keep focused and don’t lose sight of the reasons why you are here.
  • I may regret this one later but if an opportunity comes up that you cannot pass up than don’t.
  • Don’t be the senior that falls off the face of the earth and can’t be found his last semester of college, remain involved and don’t burn bridges.
  • Don’t forget to call. You may be heading back home in a couple of months but it is still important to stay in touch with those individuals who have always been there for you.
  • Continue to take advantage of every opportunity thrown at you especially those you get to travel.
  • Go out more! As long as the work gets done it is more than alright to go out on a weekday and let loose.
  • Don’t forget to exercise! As you’ve gotten busier this has become less and less of a priority. It is important that you take care of yourself.
  • Be honest and own your flaws. It is okay to admit that you are overwhelmed at times and it is better that you communicate that to those individuals you are working with than wasting their time.
  • Don’t forget to smile…and dance! Trust me, the more that you do these two things the happier you will be.
  • Do what you are passionate about and don’t let the financial aspects of life keep you from doing the things you want to do.
  • It’s cliché but be the good you wish to see in the world. Put your words into to action and don’t be afraid to educate and inspire. All it takes is a little bit of courage to change the world.

Make the most of these next couple months because you will never be as young as you are right now. Leave your legacy and don’t be average. Keep on keeping on!


Jacob Ferguson


NIU Hidden Gems: Food Edition

Editor’s Note: Hello! It’s Jacob Ferguson again, the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business. If you’re like me and are always looking to try new things then this is the post for you. The goal of this post is to share with you some of the hidden food gems that I’ve found in my four years here. If you would like to learn more about me please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jacob-ferguson/49/121/998 or follow me on Twitter: @JacobFerguson53.

Who doesn't love waffles?
Who doesn’t love waffles?

Whenever I travel somewhere new the first thing I do is pull out my smartphone and find out what is around me. I am not looking to see where the nearest Chipotle or McDonalds is but where I can find the nearest local diner or family owned restaurant. The same goes for attractions and things I would like to experience. I strive to be different and hope to continue to add to what I hope is an endless list of adventures.

With all this being said, I have come across some hidden and not so hidden food gems in or near DeKalb that I aim to share with you. The hidden gems include: Fatty’s Pub and Grille, The Junction Eating Place, Sweet Dream Desserts & Catering, Yen Ching Restaurant and Ollie’s Frozen Custard.

Fatty’s Pub and Grille: The Official Pre and Post Game Headquarters of NIU Athletics and Home of the World Famous Cajun Fried Potato Salad – Fatty’s Pub and Grille truly is a must have experience that is unique to DeKalb. If you’re hankering for a burger get yourself over there and don’t forget to try the potato salad.


The Junction Eating Place: The Junction Eating Place, simply known as The Junction, is hands-down my favorite place to go in DeKalb. The food is delicious (I personally enjoy their breakfast), the environment is warm and cozy, and the staff is really what sets this place a part from the rest. Whether you are looking to recover from the night before or just looking for a great place to eat, The Junction is your place to go!


Sweet Dream Desserts & Catering: Sweet Dream Desserts is a family-owned bake shop and café located in Sycamore that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. They have everything from scones and sweet breads to homemade cookies and cheesecake. Everything is baked fresh and stocked each morning so it’s key to get your sweets and treats before they run out. There is also a mean breakfast buffet on the weekends if you are a fan of breakfast food.


Yen Ching Restaurant: I can guarantee that Yen Ching Restaurant is the most fun you will have at a restaurant in DeKalb. The two ladies who work there are extremely friendly and funny always leaving you with a smile on your face. The food is also as good as any which makes it an easy choice whenever I want Chinese.


Ollie’s Frozen Custard: It may be cold and snowy out but that shouldn’t stop you from trying this hidden gem. Ollie’s Frozen Custard has the best frozen custard based concoctions in all of DeKalb and luckily for us they just opened for the season this week.


My challenge to you is to try them all before you graduate. There may even be a prize involved for anyone who takes a selfie at each one of these restaurants.

Career Fair Advice: Stand Out From The Crowd

Editor’s Note: Hello, world! It’s Jacob Ferguson, the Marketing and Social Media Intern for the NIU College of Business. With the NIU Internship/Full-Time Job Fair this week we wanted to provide you with some advice on what to do once the Career Fairs are over.

NIU Career Fair

NIU Career Fair - Students connect with employers to learn more about opportunities available.

I hope you all had an awesome experience at the Career Fairs this week and had the opportunity to network with some individuals that will be able to aid you in developing yourself professionally as well as personally. Now that the Career Fairs are over some of you may be asking yourself, what do I do next? I am here to enlighten you on a few of the things that you could and should be doing.

1)      Initially while the experiences and conversations are still in your mind I suggest taking the time to jot down some notes detailing who you spoke to as well as what you talked about. This will be a great reference point for when you communicate with these individuals later which leads me to my next point.

2)      Do not, I repeat do not forget to follow up with the individuals you met and spoke with at the Career Fairs. Whether it be through email or a hand written note it is important that you follow up and continue to develop those relationships even if nothing comes out of it right away. There is a great chance that someone you met at one of the Career Fairs will be able to aid you in your professional life in the future.

3)      In addition, you may have had the opportunity to sign-up for some interviews with some of the companies you spoke with at the Career Fairs. Take these interviews seriously and attend every one that you signed up for as long as you are willing and able. Even if it is an internship or job that you don’t necessarily want it is great experience and shows the type of individual you are as well as the type of students we have here at NIU.

4)      With all this being said, the search should not begin or end at the NIU Career Fairs. You should be constantly researching companies and applying to jobs that you are interested. I personally have had the most luck seeking opportunities out on my own. There are so many opportunities out there that not everyone know about that you can be taking advantage of.

You’ve pressed your suit, polished your shoes, and now you feel like you are ready to take on the world. Good luck!