Ariana Nava is a hospitality and tourism management major from Melrose Park, IL
Hometown: Melrose Park, IL
Year: Anticipated graduation year: 2022
What scholarships did you receive and why did you receive them? How has the financial support impacted your experience at NIU?
I have received the NIU Scholars Scholarship every academic year thus far and this year the Institutional Leadership Development Waiver. I also received outside scholarships: the Dare to Dream: Get Educated! Scholarship and the Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits Scholarship. The financial support has been very helpful because I have been fortunate enough to not be in so much debt by taking out loans. The scholarships have also opened my mind because they have taught me that opportunities really do exist, and anything is possible if you make the effort.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? Are you pursuing that as a major, or have you taken another path?
When I younger, I wanted to be a dentist, but that quickly changed. I realized that I was very organized and passionate about helping those around me.
What is your major (and/or minor) and why did you decide on this course of study?
My major is hospitality and tourism management. I am double minoring in business administration and marketing. I decided on this course of study after I developed a love for planning events and being involved in various organizations throughout my life.
What has been something you have found pleasantly surprising about your experience at NIU?
Something I found pleasantly surprising about my experience at NIU is that outside of the classroom, there are numerous professional and leadership development opportunities through the hundreds of student organizations NIU has.
How have you connected with other students virtually to study for classes, meet new people or form new friendships?
I have connected with other students virtually by working on projects through various online platforms and attending online events for different organizations.
Are you involved in any student organizations, mentoring programs or extra-curricular activities? If so, which ones? How have they added to your experience as a Huskie?
I am involved in three student organizations. I am currently the president and academic chair for Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc., as well as the treasurer for Kappa Omicron Nu Honors Society. I am also a member of the Student Hospitality Association. Recently, I attended the POWER Retreat where I was able to connect with other Huskies. We are currently working on community organizing. When I am available, I also attend DREAM Action NIU meetings and events. Had I only stuck to attending my classes, I would not be where I am right now. All of these wonderful organizations have added to my personal and professional growth. I am beyond grateful for all the experiences because they have allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, make connections and, most importantly, add value to my education. Being involved and being a student leader has challenged me, but it hasn't affected my academics because I have been able to maintain a really high GPA and gain a lot of learning experiences from it all.
Who has been one of your favorite instructors/professors and why? What course did they teach?
One of my favorite instructors has to be Chef Bryan! I was in his HOSP 304 and HOSP 206 classes. He has a lot of experience and would connect our learning to valuable life lessons. That was something I will never forget. I always looked forward to attending his classes because I learned something new every day. I remember I would get home from his class and always had something new to share with my roommate. Through his classes and learning environment, I grew more passionate about the hospitality industry, and those around me definitely witnessed it.
Where is your favorite spot on campus or in the community? Why are you drawn to it?
My favorite spot on campus is the Holmes Student Center. I am drawn to it because when I'm surrounded by so many students who are being productive, I feel motivated to study and get my work done. I feel as if I accomplish more being there rather than being in my own room. I also love going there to get a drink from Starbucks or a meal from the Huskie Den Grill or Qdoba. Whenever possible, I try to stop by the Huskie Den to visit Kevin and all my old co-workers. This semester I wasn't able to work there, but I plan on returning because that's my home!
What advice would you give to a student who is applying to colleges?
I would advise any student who is applying to colleges to do their research. College can be scary and it's a new environment for a lot of people, so take advantage of all that the college has to offer to secure a smooth transition. Also, I would recommend they take advantage of all the resources on campus because they are there to benefit the students. Lastly, be open-minded and apply for those scholarships, even if it takes time out of your day. There's a good chance that those scholarships might not be distributed because students are not applying. So, invest time in yourself and your education.
Coming to college, what is something that you have had to learn to do differently?
I have learned to be independent and look out for myself. I also learned that it's okay to take a break and enjoy the process. College isn't easy, but the result is worth it. Hopefully by the end, you will be able to look back and reflect on your continuous growth and how much being involved on campus has transformed that once scared and confused freshman.
What do you do to relax or recharge?
I like to spend time with my family, friends and sorority sisters. I have always been a very family-oriented person and being surrounded by all my loved ones truly grounds me. I also enjoy going on adventures, playing sports, working out and having my alone time. As much as I love spending time with others, I appreciate being able to recharge on my own.
Is there anything else you'd like to share about your NIU Huskie story?
Nothing in particular, but I do plan on expanding my involvement with the NIU community!