Volunteer Spotlight: Lark Lewis, ’17
By Eva Richards
Lark Lewis, ’17, had an idyllic childhood that was filled with love while growing up in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and this only made her feel more connected to her community.
“I spent most of my time at my dance studio, but I also always found time to get involved in my community,” she said. “When I got a little older, I worked at our local children’s museum, participated in phone banking and canvassing efforts for our school board and local candidates, and was always babysitting for families in our neighborhood. I was always interested in a lot of things, but community and service were always top of mind.”
After high school, Lewis came to NIU as a journalism/media studies and political science major, and it was a great fit for her interest in people and what binds people together.
“My experience was honestly such a great one,” she said. “The emphasis on community and real-world preparedness was something that initially drew me to NIU, and I was so excited to see that was carried through every part of life as a Huskie. I was able to continue my dance career as a Silverette and got to participate in so many cool opportunities, such as working at the Northern Star, being an orientation leader, doing a Congressional Internship in Washington, D.C., and so much more.”
Lewis notes that she would love for every other Huskie to have the same positive college experience she had. This is her reason for volunteering for the University so often in the last four years since her graduation.
“My NIU degree had immeasurable impacts on my life,” she said. “The experiences I had at NIU—from internships and programs to extracurricular activities with thousands of people from around the world all on the same campus—impacted my life far beyond ways I can even put into words. The diversity of people, experiences, and courses shaped who I am today.”
At a more technical level, Lewis credits her NIU courses with giving her the exact skills she uses in her job as a manager of creative and digital strategies at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C.
“I work in digital communications and marketing and NIU certainly prepared me for the ‘real world,’” Lewis said. “I felt that all of my classes and curriculum were comprised of real things I use every day. The social strategy and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) I learned during my internships and classes, the writing for publication, video production and broadcast classes have helped me be an integral part of the team in my role at the National Women’s Law Center.”
Since graduating in 2017, Lewis has tried to volunteer in as many ways as possible, including the advocacy letter writing campaign, virtual open houses, the NIU MTA “Cohort Conversations,” and “Meet the Alumni” events. These opportunities were all possible from her home in Washington, D.C. She has also been happy to meet up with current students during the Washington, D.C., trip each year when they travel to the capital.
“Any time I'm able to connect with a student, it makes it all worth it,” she said. “While I had such an amazing time at NIU, there were challenges to navigate with financial aid that a lot of students face, so being able to answer questions and let students know about things like that always feels really meaningful to me. I also love meeting with current students and then connecting with them in a professional capacity when they become alumni.”
Lewis says volunteering is valuable for the students who receive and for those who give.
“I believe others should give back to NIU to not only feel connected to the next generation of Huskies but also to ‘pay it forward,’” she said. “So much of the NIU experience is based on the University’s global community; we have such a unique and broad alumni network that no doubt helped us while we were attending NIU and beyond. I'm happy to be a part of that!”