Elizabeth Vieyra was little when she first noticed some of her peers did not have the same opportunities she did.

Vieyra was always musically inclined, playing flute and violin. But she realized not everyone in her hometown of Aurora who wanted to take up an instrument could do so.

Elizabeth Vieyra“I saw people around me who really wanted to try music but didn’t have the resources to do it,” she recalls. “I thought if I studied music ed I could help people like them and kids like me who just really love music.”

When Vieyra, a sophomore, completes her music education degree, she hopes to teach music at a public school and offer private lessons at an affordable price to people in her hometown.

Vieyra is inspired by her teachers, whom she said are always willing to offer help, even outside of office hours. That collaborative attitude pervades the atmosphere of the Music Building, where Vieyra said competition feels good natured and working together is the primary focus.

“People here have a really strong bond and connection,” she said. “When something isn’t working, people come together and make it work.”

Receiving the NIU Foundation Impact Scholarship opened new doors for Vieyra, who can now afford to stay on campus instead of driving home every day. That means more time for practice, more time for study, and more opportunities to be involved, she said.

“I was so happy when I found out I received the scholarship,” she said. “I ran to tell my younger siblings about it. I told them they have no excuse not to go to college because I am doing it. I am getting the help I need, and they can, too.”

When her siblings are ready for college, Vieyra said, she encourages them to choose NIU. The university and the School of Music are providing her with more than an education – they are giving her a second family.

“NIU is a place where you can make your home,” she said. “I am at home.”

Learn more about students like Vieyra during Thousands Strong, a virtual event to celebrate the thousands of Huskies whose strength, impact and generosity change lives at NIU.