Volunteer Spotlight
Dan Chamberlain, ’92, Learned Valuable Life Lessons at NIU

By Eva Richards

dan-chamberlain-croppedChamberlain said he learned to work hard, to lead respectfully and to get involved during his time at NIU.

From first-generation student at NIU to marketing lead at Capgemini, Dan Chamberlain used his time on the NIU campus as the basis for his career. Learning from faculty and through classroom experiences as he earned his B.A. in organizational communications, he honed skills that served him well throughout his life. Now, as a volunteer at NIU, Chamberlain hopes to be a positive influence in current students’ lives.

NIUAA: Tell us about your experience leading up to and choosing NIU.
Chamberlain: As a high school senior, I had good enough grades to go to a Big Ten school, but I was turned off by the size of the schools and other negative impressions I held. My older brother is an NIU alumnus, so it was already on my radar. A group of friends and I went to the Columbus Day campus open house. The University just felt right from the first visit. Three of the four of us who visited ultimately enrolled and graduated so, apparently, I wasn't the only one who was impressed.

NIUAA: What impact has NIU had on your life? 
Chamberlain: I grew up in many ways at NIU. I grew up in a very small town so I learned as much, if not more, outside of the classroom as I did in it. I learned to work hard at what matters to me, how to respectfully lead others and about the importance of getting involved. NIU is much more than a degree for me. It is forever a part of who I am.

NIUAA: How did NIU prepare you for your current profession?     
Chamberlain: The most important things I learned were how to work with other people, how to see a project through from beginning to end and ways to lead when I didn't have legitimate authority in a given setting.
NIUAA: What are you most proud of in your professional career?     
Chamberlain: I’m proud of the resilience to have bounced back from five layoffs, and still have grown in responsibility and standing in my profession. NIU helped with that, too. I had enormous setbacks in my life during school, and I had to figure out how to manage through those and still keep my grades up, do my student job, and lead the student organizations I was in.

NIUAA: Did anyone from NIU have a significant impact on you?     
Chamberlain: Willard Draper, who was assistant director of housing, had an enormous impact. He was the advisor to the Residence Hall Association when I was vice president and president my last two years at school. I remember the way he expected the executive board to handle things like adults. We were never treated as student leaders but as leaders. He was always available for advice and support, but he let us make mistakes and find ways to recover—skills that are with me to this day.

NIUAA: What would you want to tell current and prospective students about NIU?     
Chamberlain: NIU will give you the experience you make. There is so much to do academically and with extracurricular opportunities. Every student should try to find the best path for themselves and make it work. As you look to seeking employment post-graduation, the people hiring will take strong note of what you did outside of the classroom.

NIUAA: What do you enjoy most about volunteering?     
Chamberlain: I most enjoy connecting with the students. It’s great to see the talent and brains coming through and the opportunities these young people have in front of them.

If you are looking for other ways to be an NIU volunteer, please check out NIU Nexus, or contact Liz McKee at lmckee1@niu.edu or 815-753-7400.