John Hood — College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
John Hood had a fabulous NIU career.
University honors student . . . multiple scholarship winner . . . the list goes on and on.
He’s known for taking academics seriously and being generous with his time, volunteering as a language tutor to refugees. Yet most people don’t know about the trajectory that led him from Detroit to DeKalb, where he first enrolled at NIU at age 33.
His first job was as a bartender. With no college education, but considerable social skills, he later landed a job with a leading advertising agency. But after the economy soured in 2008, John found himself looking for work. Without a diploma, he was at a big disadvantage.
“If I was going to go back to school,” he says, “I wanted to pursue something I really loved.”
In high school, John read George Orwell’s book, “Burmese Days,” which sparked his interest in the exotic country of Burma, now called Myanmar. After a half-century of isolation from the world, Myanmar began to open up in 2012.
NIU specializes in Southeast Asian studies and operates the only Center for Burma Studies in the U.S. Presently, NIU is among the American institutions at the forefront of helping Burmese universities get back on their feet. So it was that John from Detroit found Dekalb.
He majored in anthropology here, because it gave him tools to study all the things about Burma that interest him, including its politics, religion and social systems. He also earned a minor in Southeast Asian Studies and received four Foreign Language Area Scholarships, together valued at more than $40,000.
He studied the Burmese language at NIU and in Myanmar, where he’ll return this summer to conduct research. At NIU, John says, he worked with some amazing faculty. They nurtured his confidence and helped him overcome the challenge of starting college in his 30’s. He calls Andrea Molnar, Catherine Raymond and Judy Ledgerwood “my trifecta of wonderful professors.”
We’re thrilled John will be staying at NIU for his master’s degree. He plans to become a wonderful professor himself, and we have no doubt he’ll succeed.