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The spring class of 2020 hasn’t had a traditional conclusion to their studies, but they do have a lot of great stories.

Over the summer months we’ll be profiling some of them.

Chelsea Cwiklik

Chelsea CwiklikMSEd with K-12 Licensure and endorsement in Art
Hometown: Batavia, IL (Batavia High School)
Received a B.A. from Columbia College Chicago in Art Management

Best memories:
My best memories are the ones with with the friends I made within the program. Everyone is so supportive of each other and the times we had together are the most memorable. The simplest of ones – visiting each other in printmaking labs, having lunch together at Pita Petes, staying late or arriving early to class to work on coursework together – are the times I will remember most.

What’s next for you?
I’ve been hired at an all-girls K-12 school in Greenwich, Connecticut as their full-time middle school art instructor, so I will be moving to the East Coast this summer.

What is one piece of advice or something you learned that you know you’ll be leaning on as you start the next phase of your career or education?
I was recently reading through research articles I had printed during the course of my study while looking for lesson ideas, and on the front page of one article from the ARTE-544 Middle Level Clinical course I had written “What kind of lesson would you develop to help encourage positive self-concept, knowing these students at this age are experiencing a range of negative emotions that might interfere with their continuous pursuit of art?” I can only assume those are words of wisdom from Dr. Staikidis but that note has been in the back of my mind as I begin lesson planning for the Fall since reading it again a year later.

How was your experience at NIU different than what you expected when you started?
I did not expect it to be as rigorous yet intellectually rewarding. I cannot believe how much I learned in such a short amount of time but I also worked really hard to get to this point. You work incredibly hard throughout the program but it is so worth it in the end.

Chelsea Cwiklik - Chicken

Chicken – Chelsea Cwiklik

If you could thank someone (or more than one person) that you didn’t get a chance to thank before you left, who would it be, and what would you say?
I owe everyone in the department a big thank you, but particularly one to Kryssi Staikidis and Connie Rhoton. I still remember trying to register for classes and get everything organized for my first Fall semester from a small cabin in the middle of July in Maine, and Kryssi and Connie were so incredibly helpful and calming as I stressed and struggled. It meant the world to me in that moment.

What is something you’d like to come back to do one more time?
Have one last friends group lunch at Pita Petes!

What are some of the things you are most proud of from your time at NIU?
I am very proud at how hard I worked and what I accomplished. I felt very recognized and encouraged by the department there, which says something about the community that is cultivated within the program. My 2020 Outstanding Graduate Student Award is reflective of that and I feel honored to have been nominated.

If you could give some advice to the high school class of 2020 who will be starting at NIU in the fall, what would it be?
Prepare to be flexible, especially during this time. Don’t look at any road blocks as missed opportunities but rather a new opportunity to try something different. Take full advantage of the free services the campus offers. And food delivery charges will add up, so spend wisely!

Keep an eye out for more profiles of the NIU College of Visual and Performing Arts class of 2020.