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Native Californian Grace Beck at Home in Integrative Studies Program


NKU online Integrative Studies student Grace Beck

Grace Beck and the Bachelor of Arts in Integrative Studies program at Northern Kentucky University are a match made in homeschool.

"Being homeschooled taught me a lot of critical thinking skills I wouldn't have otherwise had," she said. "It prepared me very well for college. It encouraged curiosity, to think outside the box about education, and to value education highly.

"You also recognize that you can achieve good results outside of the norm. I loved that the integrative studies program gave me the option to pursue multiple areas and interests and allowed me to take more initiative in my own education."

Beck is combining English, communications and psychology as majors and entrepreneurial studies and the honors program as minors in the versatile undergraduate degree program. She is on track to graduate in 2020.

"I've taken some extra marketing and economics and dance and music courses because I am interested in all of those areas," she said. "I like to tell people about the program because it's encouraging to know that it's possible to enjoy things on the side without majoring in them. The flexibility of integrative studies is priceless."

Beck also loves the fact that the BA in Integrative Studies program allows her to fluidly map out the direction of her education. For example, she started with a marketing focus that she changed to communications.

"If I had one major or a major and a minor, I would be missing out on too much," she said. "I'm very passionate about education, learning and pedagogy. I liked that I had some flexibility and could learn what I wanted to learn and gain the skills I felt like I need to have later for my life. It's a good fit, which is the case for many integrative studies majors. For those students, it's a really good fit."

Hello, Ohio

Born and raised in northern California, Beck moved to Cincinnati with her family not long before enrolling at NKU.

"Money was an issue for me," she said. "I can live at home and commute to NKU. That was one of the biggest factors. Even with scholarships from other institutions, it's so much more affordable being able to commute than paying for a housing plan. My family is very supportive of me. I also cared about getting a quality education, and NKU seemed like it would provide that."

Beck made several campus visits, which helped assure her that Highland Heights was the right place for her to matriculate.

"I like the focus on undergraduates and providing undergraduate research," she said. "NKU is a small enough school that you have access to a lot of resources. For instance, when I visited the college of business, there was an interim dean who came and spoke to students. I appreciated that. People at other universities might be too big of a wig to step down and talk to lowly visiting students. At NKU, they were very interested in meeting potential students."

Beck has enjoyed all of the courses she has taken midway through the BA in Integrative Studies degree program.

"I really liked my first honors course because it pushed my writing skills," she said. "I grew a lot as a writer. I enjoyed that challenge. I did a lot of writing and analyzing original text and supplemental material. It was something I was familiar with and enjoyed."

Dr. Abdullah Al-Bahrani is one of her favorite professors, so far. He taught a microeconomics course.

"He was very engaged with the students," she said. "I learned a lot about economics and how that relates to the world and relates to my life."

Beck especially enjoyed a project called Econ Beats she did in the course. Working with electronic media and broadcasting students, Beck and her classmates wrote economic concept-themed songs and made music videos.

"We chose a song and wrote original lyrics," she said. "That was a fun project. I enjoyed having the creative aspect thrown into what could be a dry course. The videos were voted on and our group won. It was nice to see our hard work paid off."

Future Days

Beck believes that when she completes the degree program she will have a wide array of options for the next chapter of her life.

"I have different ideas," she said. "I've considered looking into master's programs or working in mediation and conflict resolution to do independent consulting. I want to work with people and do something that would positively impact people directly.

"With mediation, you're going into an environment and trying to understand the different perspectives to help people communicate the perspectives to one another and reach an arrangement they can agree on. I've also looked into marketing and maybe working for a firm or other organization that supports education."

In addition to completing the requirements for school, Beck is also gaining valuable experience working part time at NKU's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

"They have a program called INKUBIZ through which students have the opportunity to serve as independent consultants," she said. "Different companies hire INKUBIZ for specific projects and services. They have graphic design artists who can design websites or logos for companies.

"I mostly do research — market and industry research — and present reports to different clients. My colleagues and I spend hours on the computer looking up information and making it relevant and cohesive for our clients to apply to their business. It's a really good opportunity."

Beck, who loves dancing, singing, cooking, hiking and music, believes the most important thing to do before enrolling in any college degree program is to consider the importance of education.

"For any student — especially an integrative studies student — I would tell them to think critically about why they are here, why they are going to college and what education means to them," she said. "For me, education is a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. A college education is one piece of that. Also, consider the bigger perspective. Think about why you're doing what you're doing."

Home, sweet school.

Learn more about the NKU online BA in Integrative Studies program.

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