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Mia Derks
Northern Kentucky University is committed to service—to its students and the community. Nobody embodies what it means to serve others quite like Mia Derks

“I believe in the value of service and the importance of seeking out opportunities to engage with others,” she says. 

Since arriving on campus, Mia has served in several capacities, including as a Student Government Association judicial council member and vice president. She served in the latter position just as the pandemic took hold and social unrest unfolded. Mia was also a member of Leadership Mentors and participated in several Northern Kentucky Leadership Institute (NKLI) programs. This emphasis on service also served her well in the classroom, where she was a double major in international studies and history as well as a double minor in Spanish and political science.

"I have had the opportunity to learn from people at NKU and in my community, which has provided me with an education that goes beyond just academics."

“She is the type of student we should reward for her tenacity and commitment to learning, both in the classroom and beyond,” Dr. Shauna Reilly, professor of political science and director of the Institute for Student Research and Creative Activity, says. “Mia’s long-term plan is to serve her community, and the University Service Award will demonstrate the service she has already contributed to make NKU and her community better.” 

And it’s not just NKU where Mia has served. Through her local church and Discipleship House, Mia has volunteered in different parts of the U.S., including several Native American reservations in Louisiana, Wisconsin and South Carolina. As Miss Independence, she also served her hometown in various community projects and settings. Having grown up in a tight-knit family in Independence with four younger siblings, attending NKU was perfect and unique. She says it allowed her to receive a high-quality education close to home. 

“I chose NKU because it afforded me the option to commute,” Mia says. “I was able to pursue a fantastic education while also having the ability to live at home and work. Through this, I actually had the opportunity to build networks both on campus and throughout my community, which will be incredibly helpful post-graduation. I have had the opportunity to learn from people at NKU and in my community, which has provided me with an education that goes beyond just academics.” 

In the fall, Mia will attend the University of Cincinnati College of Law. But before that, she has some big post-graduation plans. 

“I am looking forward to enjoying a season of rest! I have never not been so busy that I am at maximum capacity,” she says. “I am very excited to rest and pursue new hobbies.”

About This Article

Clayton Castle ('15)
Contributor. NKU Magazine
Published May 2022
Photography by Scott Beseler

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