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Orientation Leader Spotlight: Julia Bottoms

"I have had the most amazing professors and bosses here at NKU that truly seek to cultivate an environment where students from all walks of life with a diverse array of dreams and aspirations can thrive throughout their time in college and beyond."
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Arturo Minera
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HOMETOWN: Taylor Mill, Kentucky
MAJOR: Biology
MINORS: Honors, Chemistry and Spanish

Tell me about life pre-NKU. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and have lived my whole life in Taylor Mill, Kentucky. This was where my older sister and I were raised by my mom, dad, abuelita (which means grandma in Spanish). Living only 15 minutes from NKU, I fondly remember attending various summer camps there as a kid like theatre camp.

Why did you choose NKU? What kept you here?
Although my mom and sister are NKU alums, I had not yet hopped on the NKU train until an NKU Honors Voyage event that opened my eyes to how amazing NKU is. At this event, I fell in love with the supportive NKU community. Not only did I see how intentional faculty, staff and professors were at presenting future-focused enriching opportunities like paid research, but also how personable everyone that I spoke to was. They were ready to answer all of my questions and refer me to the countless resources that NKU has to support student success. I have had amazing career-specific opportunities within my first year here at NKU from paid student research, internships and engaging classes, but the main thing that has kept me here at NKU is the support network that is here. I have had the most amazing professors and bosses here at NKU that truly seek to cultivate an environment where students from all walks of life with a diverse array of dreams and aspirations can thrive throughout their time in college and beyond. 

Can you tell me a little about what you're studying?

I am majoring in Biology, specifically the Cellular, Molecular, and Genetics Track and minoring in Honors, Chemistry and Spanish. The Biology major and Chemistry minor are a part of a track that are to prepare students for health professions. Many people within this major are looking to go onto medical school. As for me, I plan to go onto graduate school to study nutrition and become a certified nutritionist and dietician to help under-resourced populations on local, national and international levels. 

Talk to me about your experience as an Orientation Leader. Why did you want to become an OL?
It has been an honor getting to be an Orientation Leader. It truly has been an unforgettable experience. There are so many opportunities to grow as a leader, develop transferable skills, give back to the NKU community in a meaningful manner and a great program to form healthy lifelong friendships.

What is your favorite thing about being an OL?
My favorite thing about being an Orientation Leader has been seeing the heart behind many of the Office of Admissions events. There is so much preparation and training that goes on behind the scenes that I did not know about before working in this fantastic position. It all shows how much the professors, faculty and staff want our students to succeed an be supported in all areas of life. 

What advice would you give to a first-year student?

Some advice I would give to first-year students is to constantly be asking questions whether that be in the classroom, in tutoring, in your organizations, to your advisors, etc. This is a big transition, and everyone is here to help you succeed at NKU and beyond. When asking questions, it is important to know who to go to and be open to being referred to others that are best suited to help with whatever you may need.

Are you involved in any student organizations?
Yes! In addition to being an NKU 2021 Orientation Leader, I am an Honors College Ambassador, Honors College Peer Mentor, Presidential Ambassador, LAMP (Latinx Mentors Program) Head Peer Mentor, LULAC NKU Secretary, Hispanic Chamber Member, NKU Norse Network Student Ambassador, Freshstart Member, BCM Family Group Leader, Norse Skolar, Victor Guide and Advanced Student Researcher. 

Describe NKU in one word.
Home.

What’s your favorite class?

My favorite class that I have taken so far as a full-time student is BIO 494 Special Topics in Genetics with Dr. Curran. 

Where is your favorite spot on campus? What makes that spot so special?
My favorite spot on campus is the green space between Landrum and the Baptist Campus Ministry. It is a great place to hang a hammock between two of the trees and relax or sit on the benches and soak in the nature. I also have a lot of fond memories of fun Orientation Leader training in that space like "The Ground is Lava" using cardboard.

Where’s the best place to study on campus?

There are so many great spaces to study on campus, and I love finding fun new areas all the time. My top three would have to be

  1. The top floor of the Science Center in front of the big window to the left of the pendulum (which is especially nice place to warm up while studying during the winter months if the sun is out).
  2. The common area in Steely Library to the right of Einstein’s Bagels (they have cool outlets there)
  3. The Honors College lounge in Founders Hall. 

What is your greatest passion?
My greatest passion is helping others.

What’s a favorite NKU memory you’ll never forget?
So far, my favorite NKU memory that I will never forget is rooming Northern Terrace dorms the summer of 2021 with my Orientation Leader coworkers who are now some of my closest friends. We would love to take roomie trips out to grab breakfast and walk around the lake, walk to the farmers marked right next door or just hang out at the park. I had such a blast living life alongside them, and that experience is what helped us form deeper connections that will last a lifetime.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
My favorite way to spend my free time is spending time with loved ones, reading, playing the ukulele and hiking! 

Who’s your favorite professor (or staff member)? Why?
My favorite staff member is Leo Calderon. He is such an inspiring individual who has worked so hard, yet seemingly effortlessly to help students in need and foster an environment of inclusivity and support for all. Personally, having Leo as a support connection through the Latino Mentor Program (LAMP) made all the difference my first year here at NKU. He shared countless opportunities with those within the program, and he has shared so many opportunities with me that have helped support me in countless ways over this past year. 

How do you stay focused?
I took this question in two different ways: I stay focused on my goals of completing undergraduate school and all of my future dreams and aspirations by leaning back on my whys. Refocusing and constantly looking back on why I am doing what I am doing helps me stay focused on the priorities in my life like school.

When studying, I stay focused by using the Pomodoro technique of getting work done. This is where you do three sets of 30-minute study periods with five-minute breaks, and after the third, you give yourself a longer break (about 15 minutes) and a reward! Other things that I do to help is develop the study habits of studying at the same time of day, having an accountability partner study with me in the same area, and set up a clean work environment whether that’s somewhere on campus or in my room.

What has been your most challenging academic experience so far? Why?
The most challenging academic experience so far was relearning how to study. I recently was diagnosed with PTSD, which has made it difficult to focus oftentimes and recall information, both two very important things when coming to preparing for big college exams. With the help of various offices on campus, I have been able to overcome many of the obstacles I have faced this first year, and learn how to still strive for high performance despite all odds.

Have you had any memorable internships or co-op experiences?
I have many fond internship experiences including my time so far with the Orientation Leader Practicum, as mentioned before. Since I have already briefly highlighter how amazing that program is, I thought I would reflect on student research opportunities I have had my first year here at NKU. I was able to get into the UR-STEM Program this summer after two semesters of working with on research with NKU faculty. Being a researcher in the UR-STEM Program has solidified my interest in the fields of study I hope to continue onto in the sciences, and has given me all the more confidence to continue in my major and career path.

What are you most looking forward to after graduation?
After graduation, I am most excited to go out and use the skills that I have gained to more effectively serve under-resourced populations locally, nationally and internationally. I am also excited to continue pursuing my passions in graduate school to study nutrition, but looking long term, I know that these few years are equipping me for a lifetime of giving back to others that are in need. I could not be more excited for all that is to come.

What kind of job would you like to have after you graduate?
After I graduate, I would love to work for a non-profit that would send me out to other countries where I can do informational work-shops and community developed centered around wholistic health including human nutrition. There are many places that have the means to utilize resources in their area to improve health, but simply do not have the information of how to do so. I hope to make change for the better in whatever ways I can. 

What does getting your degree mean to you?
Getting my degree means open doors to a world full of countless opportunities. It allows for there to be an opening of jobs that I would love to do for the rest of my life that would not be available without my undergraduate degree.

What are a few things every NKU student should do here before he or she graduates?
A few things every NKU student needs to do before graduating include: 

  • Attend one of our sports events which are free to all students, and you can get some awesome NKU merch!
  • Join a club of interest and hold at least one leadership position.
  • Attend at least one event from an organization or a community that you do not align with to learn about others’ culture!
  • Take a group of friends or go on a school trip to Cincinnati just to explore, especially if you are an international student or not from the area. There are a lot of must-sees downtown!

Did you study abroad during your time here? If so, tell me about your experience.

I have not yet studied abroad at NKU, but I hope to study abroad in Japan or anywhere else during my time here at NKU! 

Tell me anything else about yourself and/or NKU that you want folks to know.
I have never felt more welcomed and supported in any other community than how I do at NKU. The people that have made up this institution truly seek to create an environment where all who enter feel safe and welcome.

About This Article

Lizzie Kibler
Jayna Morris
Editor, NKU Magazine
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Published August 2021
Photography provided by Julia Bottoms
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