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Nikoletta Raso ’17
She grew up in Chicago’s Little Italy neighborhood and attended a downtown high school, yet Nikoletta Raso ’17 fell in love with the city all over again after participating in the College’s In The Loop Program.
Q: What drew you to Lake Forest College?
A: “At my high school, Jones College Prep, one of my college counselors went to Lake Forest: Erica White. She was the best, just a loving and inspirational woman. I knew I wanted to be a student at an institution that valued people’s cultural backgrounds. Later, a group of my friends and I came up to campus and visited in the fall. It was a beautiful walk down College Road. What stuck with me at the end of the day was the beauty of the campus, the personable staff, and the diversity I saw in just a couple of hours.”
Q: Have you had experiences here—besides your classes—that have helped prepare you for your future career?
A: “As a Richter Scholar, I did historical research through the English department. That got me exposed to the In The Loop Program and about what Chicago Ambassadors do. I’m a Chicago Ambassador and I did In The Loop my junior year. With the help of the psychology department, I found a great internship with Designs for Dignity, an interior design non-profit that focuses on empowering lives through design and facilitating interior design services for other non-profits in need. I was a data intern and guest blogger. I photographed sites we worked on and I would interview clients and collaborators. I wrote stories about our impact on the community that now live on their website. This is how I learned about my passion for story-telling and interest in business.”
“Last summer I also did research with Digital Chicago and lived on campus for the second time over the summer, creating illustrations for Holly Swyers’ Medical Anthropology class’ interactive game called ‘Death in Chicago.’ I’m still working on web design for that project. This past summer I went to Anderson Ranch through a strong connection our art department has with the art center in Colorado. I was awarded a scholarship for a digital storytelling workshop there and got major exposure to professional artists. I also interned at Misericordia through the Grace Groner Foundation and was an art-research assistant before that for Associate Professor of Art Tracy Taylor.”
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: “I’m president of design for Tusitala, the creative literary magazine. We plan events and creatively and collectively put together a magazine of students’ work. I do a lot of professional development in my spare time and I go back home and I visit my family in Chicago. I do artwork and go to galleries. I like to travel, too. One of my biggest pastimes is mentoring younger students through the First Connection Program. Incoming students need guidance from their peers and friendly support to help them through the transition into college-life. Being a peer mentor is something that I take pride in because I value relationship-building as a skill.”
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: “I have applied to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to teach English to Italian high school students in Southern Italy, but it’s very competitive. I’m also applying to Projects for Peace. I’m looking for community service projects. I’m going to take time to explore culturally immersive experiences and find outlets for creative projects. I hope to pursue a career that focuses on business communications and building professional relationships.”
Q: Any advice for new students?
A: “Step out of the mold that you think you’re supposed to be in and create your own place. Utilize the faculty and the staff to support your creative growth. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Q: Parting words?
A: “As a Chicagoan, Lake Forest College has given me the space and opportunities I needed to reconnect with the city. Coming to college, I felt disconnected from Chicago as a place for opportunity. Now, I feel stronger than ever that I’ll always have a foundation here and in Chicago. It’s given me new-found confidence.”