Volunteer Spotlight: Andrea Robinett, ’11
By Eva Richards
Andrea Robinett, '11, has helped organize regional NIU Football Watch Parties and events in California.
Real estate agent and interior designer Andrea Robinett, ’11, may be based in San Diego, but a piece of her heart will always be with NIU.
“NIU means a lot to me because it’s not only where I graduated from, but it’s also what has helped shape me into the person that I am today,” she said.
In fact, Robinett made the decision to help California-based alumni stay connected by being a part of NIU’s regional events throughout the state.
“Because I live in San Diego, I have been involved in the volunteer work that takes place outside of Illinois, including get-togethers and football watch parties in San Diego with other alumni,” she said. “It’s really neat to see how many Huskies are in other parts of the country.”
While Robinett still visits Illinois frequently because her family is based in Rockford, she has enjoyed networking with other Californians who got their start at Northern.
“It’s been really nice to get involved with my alma mater and connect with other Huskies,” she said. “Meeting other alumni who have also moved to another part of the country has been really cool because it automatically creates a sense of community and evokes a feeling of home.”
Robinett has enjoyed being able to show Huskie Pride and have school spirit with other alumni, even when they are all 2,000 miles away from NIU.
“It is a really unique and fun experience. It’s fun to reminisce with people about NIU and living in DeKalb. Hearing other people’s stories about where they grew up, how they made their way out to Southern California, and what they’ve been doing since college is always super-interesting and such a fun way to connect,” Robinett said.
Growing up in Rockford, she was a cheerleader and member of the National Honor Society in high school. When it came to NIU, Robinett chose NIU because it was close to family, Chicago, and it provided the full college experience.
“NIU was the quintessential university with a football team, a big campus, plus a good Greek system, and I knew I wanted to join a sorority,” she said. “ I joined a sorority my first semester, which made me an Alpha Sigma Alpha, and it was the best decision that I could have made for myself. There, I held multiple positions and lived in the house for two years. We participated in many philanthropic endeavors, as well as social events.”
During the second semester of Robinett’s freshman year, tragedy struck the campus with the Feb. 14, 2008, shooting in Cole Hall, which claimed the lives of five Huskies.
“That’s something you just never forget. I was only 18 years old at the time, but the memories from that day are still vivid,” she said. “Seeing the community come together after that tragedy created feelings of hope and ultimately helped everyone move forward.”
Enduring this tragedy bonded Robinett to her college friends and the university.
"Many of my best friends now are friends that I made at NIU, and I can’t imagine my life without those people. Some of my best memories are from NIU, and my friends and I still joke and wish we could go back to that time. We all get nostalgic for our college days," she said.
Having chosen to major in biological sciences, Robinett’s courses were very demanding, but her studies helped her believe in herself.
“My education has impacted my life in a number of ways. First, having an education and learning so much has been super valuable in and of itself,” she said. “Secondly, having earned a degree and knowing that I was able to complete something that was so challenging gives me confidence to go after other things in life, as well.”
Even though Robinett currently lives across the country from campus, she appreciates the volunteer opportunities that allow her to stay connected to her roots, and she hopes others will follow her lead.
“I believe others would benefit from giving back to NIU because it’s a great way to connect with other Huskies,” she said. “You can live anywhere and still be a part of the community and give back to NIU. By doing that, we help create a better future for the school and ourselves.”