Student Spotlight: Elizabeth Vieyra
By Tony Scott

vieyra-elizabeth-resizedElizabeth Vieyra says scholarships have made all the difference in her NIU experience.

For student Elizabeth Vieyra, donors supporting scholarships have made all the difference in her NIU experience. 

“Scholarships make a huge difference in a student’s life, and it is something that students like me will always be grateful for,” she said. “When I graduate and think back to my life at NIU I will always think of the scholarships and the difference they made in my experience. The friends I made, experiences I had, and things I learned wouldn’t have been possible without the support of donors.”

Vieyra, who is studying music education and plans to graduate in December following student teaching this fall, is a first-generation student. Growing up in Aurora, Illinois, and attending East Aurora High School, Vieyra has a younger brother, a recent high school graduate, and a younger sister, who is a junior in high school. 

Vieyra, whose father is a welder and whose mother is in cleaning, was helped tremendously as she earned several scholarships, including the NIU Foundation Impact Scholarship as well as the Dream Scholarship, the David A. and Linda M. Nelson Endowed Scholarship and the O’Malley-Pugh Endowment Fund. With help from the Impact Scholarship, she was able to live on campus.

“Receiving the Impact Scholarship made it possible for me to live on campus which really helped me be more involved in different groups and activities,” she said. “I was able to create a community of friends, peers, and staff that I could meet with now with more flexibility without thinking of the long drive home. It also gave my parents and I a sense of safety knowing I wasn’t driving through bad weather to get to class or leaving campus late at night after a performance.”

She added, “I was extremely happy when I received the scholarship, I quickly shared the news with my siblings, encouraging them to look for opportunities like this one when the time came for them to go to college. I felt proud of myself for looking for resources and making things possible by reaching out to get help.”

When she first visited NIU, it felt like home, and it was close enough to her hometown. 

“I chose NIU because it felt very comfortable, I really felt like I could feel at home there and grow into the best version of myself,” she said. “All the staff I met on my visit were very nice and welcoming and the campus was beautiful. It was also close enough to home that I could visit but also get some freedom to become more independent.”

Vieyra has been involved in a number of activities and organizations while at NIU, including the National Association for Music Educators, where she served on the board, and the Percussion Club, where she and other members played for children at University Village, as well as the Thai Music Ensemble, Chinese Music Ensemble and the Korean Drumming Club. 

“I joined these organizations and ensembles because I want to become a well-rounded human,” she said, “I want to learn about different people and their experience by learning about different cultures and ways of connecting with each other.”

Through her time at NIU, Vieyra has met a number of friends and connected with her peers and professors. She also loves the campus and what it offers.

“My favorite thing about NIU is the sense of community that is created. Students are always so friendly with each other, and professors are always willing to help and connect,” she said. “My favorite place to hang out in is the music building break room. My favorite thing to do when I wasn’t busy was always to go in there and sit with a deck of cards to see who would like to play a game of kings corners with me.”

Vieyra said that other students who are fresh on campus should reach out and embrace their new community, find new friends and don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. 

“You never know what resources might be out there that your professor or someone around you will know about,” she said. “Do not feel embarrassed about asking for help whether it be something with your schoolwork or money for school. Also be open to new experiences and making friends. You never know who your long-lasting friends will be.”