Janell MathusView Content
When students start at UIS, they don’t know what those next four years will be like. By graduation day, they have advice to give, stories to tell, and memories to share.
Janell Mathus had no trouble excelling in school. “Straight As in high school for the most part,” she says with a smile. “I’ve always been pretty good with the grades.”
She kept those grades up during her time at UIS, and though she would have worked hard for them regardless of assistance, she credits the Necessary Steps Mentoring Program—a Living Learning Community—for providing her support as a first generation student at UIS.
Janell lived in a wing of a residence hall with other students in the program. She had a Necessary Steps student mentor, who provided guidance and friendship and helped her navigate through those first years of college life.
“When I became a junior, I decided I wanted to be a mentor for the program, so I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum,” she says.
She has two mentees this year.
She also worked as an orientation leader and volunteered with 4H. “There were so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have necessarily expected before I got here.”
For future students, she has some advice:
“When someone offers you help, take it.”
But she doesn’t stop there. “Definitely take the time to understand the ins and out of college,” she suggests. “Financial aid, the requirements of your major. Don’t simply depend on your advisor to tell you what you need to take.”
“Take an active role in your education rather than a passive role because that will make all the difference.”
She recommends talking to your instructors and getting to know them because one day you may be turning to them for a recommendation letter, and it will be helpful if they know who you are.
Finally, get involved. “That was the best thing I did for myself was to get involved and interact with a lot of different people,” she said. “You learn so much by being open-minded and taking the time to interact with someone that’s different from you.”
As for Janell, she was accepted into three different medical schools before she even finished her last semester at UIS; she plans to attend the University of Illinois Chicago.