North Central College - Naperville, IL

Academic opportunities that make the most of your college years

As you consider college choices, it’s not too soon to be thinking about how you will set yourself apart from thousands of other college graduates who will be looking for jobs or applying to graduate, medical or law schools.

At North Central College, motivated students have limitless opportunities for conducting research, attending conferences, applying for grant funding and studying an honors curriculum.

“You want to give yourself the best advantages for finding employment or going on to further your education—and that means distinguishing yourself from the pack,” advises Dr. Perry Hamalis, director of the Office of Academic Opportunities, and Cecelia Schneller Mueller Professor of Religion. “You have to gain the most that you can out of your years in college.”

The benefits of academic preparation at North Central include:

  • You will build relationships with faculty members who conduct research with undergraduate students in all majors. Larger universities focus on research at the graduate level.
  • You can present your research on campus at the annual Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research and at national and international conferences.
  • You can combine academic rigor and research with other activities, such as athletics, ministry and service, study abroad and campus leadership opportunities.
  • You can receive personal guidance to obtain research funding and to apply for national scholarships and graduate schools.
  • You can become part of the College Scholars Honors Program, which is built on the theme “Excellence Through Community.” Participants enjoy social activities, retreats and unique study abroad opportunities, along with academic courses that complement any major. “You will learn more if you’re surrounded by peers who inspire you,” says Hamalis. “Scholarship and friendship go together.”

In the name of justice

Etienne Mashuli, a political science major and native of Rwanda, has devoted his academic career to studying and pursuing social justice causes. He recently learned that he will receive a Soros Fellowship for New Americans, a prestigious graduate scholarship worth about $90,000. This will allow him to continue his studies at Yale, Notre Dame, the University of Chicago or Johns Hopkins University. While a student at North Central, he participated in Model United Nations and Summer Research Opportunities (SROP) at Michigan State University in 2011 and at the University of Michigan in 2012. Etienne also helped establish a primary school in Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he lived as a refugee after escaping the violence of Rwanda.

Making it count

Maria Gommel, with dual majors in mathematics and actuarial science, has built an impressive résumé that includes participating in the College Scholars Honors Program, researching the impact of vaccines with mathematical models, presenting her research at a national conference and attending UCLA’s Summer School in Logic program. “The math professors here have been wonderful to work with and have inspired me to keep pursuing my goals,” she says.

She’s also a 2012 Goldwater Scholar, the highest national undergraduate award for achievement in mathematics, science and engineering.  But Maria has also found time to fit in volunteer work as a math tutor, hold leadership roles in Math Club and perform in the College’s String Ensemble and Pep Band. Maria is using her very impressive credentials to apply to graduate schools like the University of Illinois, Purdue and Notre Dame.

Keeping a delicate balance

Trevor Magnotti, athletic training major and College Scholar, has prepared a senior thesis called “The Effects of Proprioceptive Balance Training on the Incidence of Lateral Ankle Sprains.” He researched current literature on the practice of implementing balance training to prevent ankle sprains, one of the most common athletic injuries. “Balance training involves the nervous system, which can help prevent the rolling action that causes sprains,” he explains. Trevor is completing an athletic training internship at Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn, IL, and has been accepted into graduate school at Ohio University, where he was awarded a graduate assistantship in athletic training.

An on-the-job vacation

Todd Tabor, a College Scholar, is majoring in both human resource management and psychology, and is writing a thesis titled “Cross-Cultural Attitudes Toward Vacation Time in the U.S. and Europe.” He developed a web survey that he sent to participants in Europe, Asia and North America. “I researched the amount of vacation time that workers have in other countries and the degrees to which employees engage with their jobs (like checking work email) while on vacation,” he says.

Todd studied abroad in France, Italy, Germany and England during D-Terms and landed an internship at a business consulting firm near campus. He has been accepted into master’s degree programs at the University of Illinois, the University of Minnesota and Michigan State University.

The world of research

Samantha DeWerff started doing research her first year as a volunteer in the lab of Dr. Stephen Johnston, Roger and Nadeane Hruby Professor in the Liberal Arts and Professor of Biology, and later as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Colloquium. As a biochemistry major, her research has involved a study of population genetics. She made a novel observation that the SH allele appeared more frequently in populations of African descent relative to the rest of the world, offering additional evidence for the previously described protection from malaria provided by this gene variant. Her honors thesis will summarize this data, which will also be presented at the Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research and National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR).

Samantha has served on a search committee that helps make hiring decisions for faculty openings, is the president of the biology honor society Tri-Beta and volunteers as a study abroad ambassador. She is pursuing graduate school at the University of Chicago or the University of Illinois.