If you’re wondering how to find the time to take advantage of all that Illinois State University and the Honors Program have to offer, you might consider taking some advice from Shalisa Reitz. Shalisa graduated in December ’12 and was determined not to leave Illinois State with any “what-ifs.”
Like many Honors students, Shalisa was very involved in her high school’s extracurricular activities. She decided to join the Honors Program to continue taking advantage of all the additional learning opportunities it made available. Shalisa says that she appreciated “the extra level of support” she received from her Honors advisor and other Honors students.
One of Shalisa’s highest priorities was to study abroad. She chose a semester in Leicester, England and found the experience to be “life changing.” Among the many benefits of study abroad, Shalisa discovered a passion for learning about cultures outside of the United States. She also took the initiative to travel to 11 other countries with a cohort of new friends; she remains in contact with those friends via monthly Skype sessions.
After returning from Leicester, Shalisa delved into many of the opportunities provided through the Honors Program. She started by joining SALT, the Student Ambassador Leadership Team. Shalisa found the experience so beneficial, she became a Preview Assistant and then Student Activities Intern for the Honors Program. Her learning opportunities in these positions would become instrumental as she began work at internships in the fields of marketing and communications.
These internships in the summer of 2012 were among Shalisa’s most influential experiences at Illinois State. Through a dual-internship program, she worked for both Core Creative, a marketing firm, and as the Events Intern for the Leukemia Society in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One project with Core Creative remains particularly memorable: teaching numerous players for the Green Bay Packers the technology they were endorsing in an upcoming advertisement.
Throughout her time at Illinois State Shalisa remained deeply involved on-campus. She was a member of a business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi, where she held several leadership positions including President and Pledge Educator, and was also a member of the international honor society, Beta Gamma Sigma, where she served as Vice-President. Shalisa also participated in Alternative Spring Break, traveling to New York and New Jersey to work with underprivileged children at an educational camp facility.
While the breadth of Shalisa’s experiences may seem daunting to even the most ambitious of students, she offers some advice on how to achieve a satisfying balance. First, assess your own situation and decide what you can reasonably handle…but don’t let fear deter you from participation. Shalisa found that her involvement actually improved her academic performance by gaining skills that made her a better student. After assessing existing time demands, “get involved!” She says that regularly meeting with faculty and her Honors and Departmental advisors “opened up a world of opportunities.”
As Shalisa graduates from Illinois State, she has numerous professional opportunities, something she credits to the skills she developed in the many facets of her educational experience. Shalisa found motivation from her various pursuits, telling us, “The more I take on, the more excited I become about life in general.” Shalisa’s positive outlook certainly helped her accomplish her goal of leaving Illinois State without any “what-ifs.”
written by: Trevor Sierra