Every commencement ceremony at NIU is filled with students who have amazing stories to tell. Stories of academic excellence, of service to the campus and community and of obstacles overcome and dreams attained.
Unfortunately, we cannot tell you the story behind every Huskie who successfully makes it to graduation, but the examples below will give you an idea of how outstanding NIU graduates are and help you understand why we are so proud of them.
Unique Grissom, ’19, B.S., Human Development and Family Sciences
Unique Grissom, of Elgin, had a difficult path to graduation but embraced the challenges she faced and emerged stronger.
When Unique was 17, in foster care and pregnant, a judge gave her an ultimatum: a new foster home or juvenile detention. She chose the foster home and thrived. After she graduated high school, her foster mom gave her another choice: college or the military. She chose college and ultimately NIU.
Unique entered NIU through our CHANCE Program, which provides resources and mentoring to students who do not meet traditional entrance requirements. She made the most of the opportunity, pursuing a spectacular college career that included a full-ride scholarship through the Department of Children and Family Services. Outside of the classroom, she became vice president of the College Parents Group, supporting and mentoring other students juggling parenting and classwork as they navigated higher education.
She also excelled in class, earning a 3.763 GPA while securing her B.S. in Human Development and Family Sciences with an emphasis in family social services, a minor in sociology and a criminology certificate. She hopes to work in the juvenile court system while also pursuing her graduate degree in sociology here at NIU.
Michael Potoniec, ’19, B.S., public health
One reason Michael chose NIU was our long list of student organizations and ways to get involved.
From his first day at NIU as a freshman Public Health major from Minooka, Illinois, he felt at home and began taking advantage of all that NIU has to offer.
He joined the Student Health Organization, beginning as a volunteer, then worked his way up to president. By helping to organize blood drives, STEM Fest, and other events on campus, he learned how much an organization can do for a community.
He lived in the Health Professions House all of his four years at NIU, and became a Health House ambassador and then a team leader, helping incoming freshmen with their college transition and creating events aimed at helping residents to help them grow into the persons they wanted to be while at NIU.
Michael hopes his future includes A Center for Disease Control public associate program, and research, specifically on how the ocean effects climate change and how that effects human health.