Grad profiles – Dajhumbay Russell

Grad profiles – Dajhumbay Russell

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.

Dajhumbay Russell

Dajhumbay RussellDegree Earned: Bachelors of Arts in Music Education and Music Performance
Hometown: West Bloomfield Michigan
High School: Homeschooled through Accelerated Christian Education program (A.C.E)

What are some of your best memories of your time at NIU?

  • NIU Steelband for all six years
  • Rides to and from performances with my band mates and the performances themselves
  • Got to perform with steel pan greats like Andy Narell, Victor Provost, Leon Foster, and our very own professor Liam Teague
  • NIU Huskie Marching Band my first year
  • Percussion Ensemble
  • Jazz Combo
  • Going to the football games (when I had time)
  • Lastly, the many people that I met that made the experience so much fun and inspiring. My peers and the daily journeys we embarked upon. Ha ha.

What’s next for you?
Now that I’ve completed my degree I am looking to start teaching music in the public school system. I’m open to teach in Illinois (of course) Michigan, and/or Florida. I will also continue what I’ve always loved to do which is perform at many different venues over the summer. Gigging will always be a part of my professional career. Looking further down the path I’d like to start a private lesson studio where I will teach students how to play the steel pan, drum set, and piano.

What’s 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?
One piece of advice I’ve learned is that you should always be looking for ways to improve yourself. Never stop growing. However, make sure to pat yourself on the back for the accomplishments you have made and be confident in yourself. There will always be people who will criticize what you are trying to do. Stay true to yourself.

How was your experience at Northern different than what you expected when you started?
Something that was different from what I expected in my first year were the people I spent my free time with. I spent a good deal of time with friends from a slightly different demographic from my own. Between the steel pan studio (consists of all pan majors) and people from drum line, I was welcomed into more of a family type of environment than one might expect their first year.

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?
It would be Professor Liam Teague, Lynn Retherford, and Dr. [David] Maki.

To Liam:
Thank you for all that you poured into my life. Thank you for teaching me to reach for the stars and to always be aware of my progress. Thank you for always keeping it real with me and being more than just my professor. You’ve been a mentor and a true inspiration! I’ve learned so much just from your work ethic and dedication to your craft alone. I feel blessed to have been your student.

To Lynn:
Thank you for all of your assistance and support. As the music students always say you’re the one that we come to when we’re in need of serious help! You’re like a superhero. I can’t count how many times I came to you with issues regarding registration, licensure and just day to day questions and every time you were able to help me in some way or another! So, I thank you so much for always being a helping hand.

What’s something you’d like to come back to do one more time?|
That’s easy! Come back and play with the NIU Steelband just one more time!

What are some of the things you’re most proud of from your time at Northern?

  • Greatly improving  my musicianship both on paper and practice
  • Getting to trade solos with Victor Provost (truly an Honor)
  • Performing at Virginia International Pan Fest
  • Performing with the Chicago Sinfonietta at the Chicago Symphony Center
  • Producing a great senior recital

If you could give some advice to the high school class of 2020, what would it be?
Always be true to yourself, but be open minded and hear people out. Choose your professors/classes wisely and your friends even more wisely. Enjoy every moment of this experience! Meet new people. Go to as many events as you can without sacrificing your homework. Take breaks. Get yourself a great study buddy. Always have a plan! Face every obstacle with courage. Be confident in what you do know but also realize you don’t know everything. Most Importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help! That is one of the most mature things you can do.

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

Art and Design Senior Spotlight – Ethan Deboer

Art and Design Senior Spotlight – Ethan Deboer

The School of Art and Design is spotlighting recently graduated students and their work on Facebook, and we’ll be sharing them here on the blog, as well.

Ethan Deboer, BFA in Time Arts

Artist Statement:
“My work is made up of characters in the form of character model sheets, action poses, and hand-drawn animations. The designs and actions represented visually convey to the audience what their personality or story are. How a character looks and acts in a still image can say a lot about who they are as characters. It is important to me that the characters’ personality is able to be conveyed in any drawing or animation that I make.

“My first inspiration for a story often comes from the desire to make a point or lesson either from my own life experiences or the desire to subvert a cliche or concept that I have seen in other media. Other times it is just to make people laugh. Either way, I make the characters to service that story idea, and spend a lot of time designing what they look like before I settle on something. I mainly use pencil and pen on sketch paper, but I will sometimes use a drawing tablet with Photoshop or Clip Studio Paint to draw and color the characters. I also use Adobe Animate CC to put those characters in motion.

“When done correctly, a dramatic piece of fiction can make a comedic moment more effective and a comedic piece of fiction can make a dramatic moment more effective. I always try to achieve that with my own art and storytelling. I am influenced mostly by animated shows or movies that have world building, make someone laugh, or are satirical. No matter if a drawing is good or bad, what matters most to me is that there is a story behind it.”

June 18 Supreme Court Ruling on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program

June 18 Supreme Court Ruling on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:

President Lisa FreemanI am writing today to let you know that I join many of you in appreciating today’s Supreme Court ruling blocking efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

This cause has been a priority for me from the earliest days of my presidency. I have listened to, and been moved by, the stories of our DACA students. They impress me with their strength and inspire me with their courage and resiliency. I have signed multiple letters and petitions put forth by my peers in higher education to secure rights for undocumented members of our community, and I have advocated on their behalf in meetings that I have had with members of Congress.

While there is more work to be done and uncertainties ahead, I want to be clear that NIU will continue to support all members of our community, regardless of their immigration status. We will continue working alongside them, fighting for their right to live, learn, work and contribute in the country that they have called home for nearly all of their lives.

Going forward, I urge all of those affected by or committed to this cause to familiarize yourself with the information and resources that our office of Undocumented Student Support has compiled. Take advantage of the guidance and knowledge available through our Cultural Resource Centers and the NIU Center for Student Assistance. Finally, I urge all who want their voices heard on this matter to engage with the student-led organization DREAM Action NIU to learn how to advocate with state and federal legislators.

As positive as today’s news is, this issue is far from resolved, and we remain committed to urging lawmakers to find a long-term legislative solution.

Together Forward,

Lisa C. Freeman

Art and Design Senior Spotlight – Daniel Ortiz

Art and Design Senior Spotlight – Daniel Ortiz

The School of Art and Design is spotlighting recently graduated students and their work on Facebook, and we’ll be sharing them here on the blog, as well.

Daniel Ortiz, BFA in Illustration

Artist Statement
“My mission as an artist is to show a narrative that, at some point in time, we have all experienced or will experience. My work plays with the ideas of joy, beauty, family, and culture. Heavily influenced by the past, I explore warm moral values that have been fading in modern society. I strive to draw out intrigue and beauty of mundane moments and simple aspects of life. At its core, my art is an idealization of the human experience.”

Artist Biography
Daniel Ortiz was born in 1995 in Puruandiro, Michoacan, Mexico. Ortiz has already been included in various important exhibitions including Waubonsee Art Gallery in Sugar Grove, Ill. and Northern Illinois University College of Business in DeKalb, Illinois. Ortiz is the recipient of the Drinklings Moving Image Award Scholarship and has been accepted into the 2020 Society of Illustrators Student Competition in New York City. Ortiz Currently works in Aurora.