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College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Students you should know!

In the Family Services we have so many wonderful students! We decided we should find these great students, interview them and give them the recognition they deserve. This semester Erin Bracey, a senior in Family Service, will highlight several outstanding students everyone should know.


        Ellie Wiedenhoeft


Hometown: Davenport, Iowa

Year: Senior

Undergraduate Major: Family Services, Ellie is also certified in Global Health and Health DisparitiesFamily Services

Current Job: Youth Associate at Lutheran Services of Iowa and Bremwood.

Things you liked about the major?

“I love how broad the major is, especially the courses.  They have introduced me to new concepts and a variety of career options.  Family Life Education is a class I’m in right now and although it’s difficult and challenges us, I have learned a lot about creating curriculums for family oriented programs and have been able to experience the process first hand.”

What is your potential future career?

“I want to become a school counselor, probably for a high school.  I plan to further my education through UNI or the University of Iowa.  I am also interested in a career surrounding student affairs.  College or career preparation is where my passion lies.”

What advice would you give yourself on high school graduation day?

“Get as involved as you can!  Don’t be afraid to get involved in big organizations just because you’re a freshman.  Also, take advantage of the Liberal Arts Core classes that UNI offers, they are a privilege not a burden."

Why/how you chose the major?

“I began as a Secondary Math Education major but after going through my first field experience, I realized that teaching wasn’t what I wanted to do.  I sought help through UNI’s Career Services where I was introduced to the Family Services major.  I loved the emphasis on families and wanted to learn more.”


November 2013

                Chris Madigan


Hometown: Chicago, Illinois - but lived in Pella, Iowa since the age of 12

Year: Senior

Undergraduate Major: Family Services

Activities: Chris is the host of a variety show, No Shame Theatre at UNI, which takes place every other Friday on campus.

Things you liked about the major?

"The networking opportunities that have been presented to me are abundant.  Strategies and Issues got me connected with a volunteer opportunity at Northeast Iowa Food Bank, where I continue to prepare food, interact with clients, and present surveys to help fund the organization."

What is your potential future career?

“I want to pursue a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy.  The Family Services major has prepared me for this career path, especially because of the professors. They set their students up for success. Family Relationships and Families and Aging helped to prepare me for the counseling field as well because they gave me different perspectives on what real families consist of rather than just acknowledging the nuclear family.”

What advice would you give yourself on high school graduation day?

“Pick classes that you don’t think you are going to be good at, go out of the “usual” realm because that’s where real learning takes place. Don’t pick a major based on the notion that it’s what you’re supposed to do, instead go for your passions.”

Why/how you chose the major?

“The Family Services classes were ones that I took as electives at first but, soon after, I started realizing that those were the classes I looked forward to attending and they allowed me to help other people. The Family Services faculty is super friendly, professors are the best ever, and they are so open and friendly with students. They give us great preparation for the future, whether that’s looking for a career or furthering education, they truly care about our success."


October 2013

                Abi Akinde 


Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria 

Year: Graduate Student

Undergraduate Major: Family Services

Current Job: Works at Cedar Falls High School and is a graduate student in the School Counseling Program in the School of Applied Human Sciences

Things you liked about the major?

“I really liked how the professors took the time to get to know me personally.  I also loved how even though we are a part of a big university, the Family Services major is like a family and support system.”

What is your potential future career?

“Right now, I am in graduate school for school counseling but I am exploring the option of play therapy because I like the idea of working with kids and being able to use activities as a means of therapy for them.”

What advice would you give yourself on high school graduation day?

“I think I had an issue with making a decision and feeling like I had to stick with it even if I hated it.  It took time for me to learn that sometimes switching majors or switching roommates or anything is okay to do.  You won’t always make the right decision the first time around.”

Why/how you chose the major?

“I had a class with Dr. Gute and talked to him about the fact that I was struggling with my current major and he reassured me that I could always change my mind and try something else, so I did!”


September 2013

    Hillary Schwickerath


Hometown: Ankeny, Iowa

Year: Senior

Bio:Hillary became a Family Services major with the intent of using her skills to work
as a Child Life Specialist.  Her passion for helping others has created a strong
foundation for her success at the University of Northern Iowa.  She is now looking
to further her education through a school counseling graduate program, which she
plans to begin in the Spring.

Advice for students considering a major/minor in Family Service?

"Do what you want to do and understand that it's okay to be unsure"

"Stick it out, even when it's tough"

What is it like being a Family Services major/minor?

"The professors are so personable; they enhance student learning through telling their    own stories and experiences."

"Our advisors make an effort to get to know us, not just as students but as people"