A ‘CHANCE’ to serve others pays off for NIU COMS major

Cordiah Hayes
Cordiah Hayes

Cordiah Hayes, a senior communication major from Chicago, has made the most of her four years at NIU.

In addition to her classes in media studies, she has spent the past two years tutoring first-year students in the CHANCE program in the Writers’ Workshop.

“When I applied for a tutoring position two years ago, I never expected that it would be so enjoyable and rewarding,” she says.

Hayes admits to harboring doubts that she would be successful on the job.

Suzanne Coffield, director of the Writers’ Workshop, knew better.

“After interviewing her, I knew she was a sure bet to provide the kind of mentorship and academic guidance the incoming first-year students who use our facility need,” Coffield says. “Upbeat, enthusiastic, mature and dedicated to being the very best tutor/mentor/colleague/student possible, Cordiah took the Writers’ Workshop, her fellow tutors and her students by storm.”

Hayes has thrived as tutor, and devoted so much time working in the Writers’ Workshop that she doesn’t have time for additional activities. “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says.

Coffield said Hayes inspires creativity, introspection and self-confidence in the students she tutors. Hayes’ passion for tutoring earned her the English Department’s Queen Victoria Hardison Award for Excellence in Tutoring last spring.

“Not only has she loved writing her entire life, but it’s clear she loves the fun of learning,” Coffield adds.

Hayes’ enthusiasm is not limited to working with her peers. It resounds throughout the workshop whenever conversations turn to film.

Cordiah Hayes“She really demonstrates an extensive knowledge of not only classic films but indies just making it to the screen,” Coffield says. “She knows her stuff and makes all of us within earshot eager to see what she’s talking about.”

Just months before graduating from NIU, Hayes was named the inaugural recipient of the Arthur P. and Sue Warrick Doederlein Scholarship. The scholarship was set up to assist seniors majoring in the humanities to finish their degrees.

“I was in complete shock,” Hayes says. “I knew of the Doederleins’ contributions to the university, but I had no idea they had a scholarship, much less that I was even considered. I was humbled and honored to be recognized for my hard work.”

After graduating Sunday, Dec. 13, Hayes hopes to continue tutoring students but with a twist – combining her love of cinema with education. Her future plans include graduate school, but not right away.

“I need much more time to plan and figure out where exactly it is I wish to go,” she says.

Reflecting on her time at NIU, Hayes gained more than the knowledge to earn a degree: “Northern for me means opportunities and the ability to prosper.”

“I’ve learned to have more confidence in myself, let my voice be heard and, most importantly, to let my guard down in terms of meeting new people,” she says. “I knew coming into Northern that I wanted to succeed academically, but I also had the idea that I wanted to leave an impact on the university in a positive way. I can confidently say that I did both.”

by Paula Meyer

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