The following faculty and staff profile is one in a series of stories that will appear in NIU Today highlighting employees who support students through the NIU Foundation. The NIU Foundation invites all faculty and staff to come together with the entire Huskie family to support student scholarships by making a gift on #GivingTuesday, Nov. 28.
Dr. LaVerne Gyant has been at NIU for nearly 25 years and serves as a full professor in the College of Education. She is also the former director of the Center for Black Studies. Her time as a member of the NIU community has been transformative as the result of the relationships she has formed.
“NIU has been good to me. I have learned a lot from great colleagues and friends who have helped me develop as a professional. My students have served as mentors too, and have given me valuable advice,” Gyant said. “Sometimes my relationships with students have started out with difficulty, but often we have been able to become friends – laughing and crying together. NIU students are creative, they have a lot of energy and they want to accomplish great things. When I interact with our students, it makes me want to do my job better.”
Gyant cares a lot about NIU students and seeing them succeed. “One of my greatest hopes for my students is that they take advantage of everything that is here at Northern – that each of them finds someone they trust, puts themselves out there and seeks the assistance that they need. There are so many people here that care for them and want to help them.”
Early on, Gyant decided to start supporting students through the NIU Foundation. She saw the need that many students have. And since donating, she has seen the impact that private support plays by covering tuition costs, providing study abroad opportunities and allowing for the purchase of textbooks.
“For me, it’s good to give back in the classroom and as an adviser, but I also want to do something to ensure that students will be able to complete what they have set out to do here: graduate. It is heartbreaking to know that many students have a balance and don’t have the resources to pay for it. We have students that are struggling to be here and who really want to complete their degree,” Gyant said. “We need to think about how we can contribute to their success because their success is our success. Our students get stressed out worrying if they can pay their tuition, and many drop out.”
Gyant chooses to donate twice a month through payroll deduction. She was encouraged recently when Acting President Lisa Freeman and her husband, Dr. Douglas Rose, as well as Board of Trustee Chair Wheeler Coleman and his wife, Sharon, announced that they were making gifts of $25,000 to support student scholarships.
“It is encouraging to see our leadership make this kind of statement. They are saying that our students are important and that we need to invest in them,” she said.
The NIU Foundation is currently in an initiative to raise unrestricted scholarship dollars to provide funding for NIU’s hardworking, talented and grateful students. You can join Gyant in supporting student scholarships by making a gift to the NIU Foundation on #GivingTuesday, Nov. 28.