Center for Access & Attainment > About > Student Profiles > Natalie Ficek

Natalie Ficek

Natalie earned the International Baccalaureate Diploma from Taft High School in Chicago.

"I grew up on the Northwest Side of Chicago. As a young child, I enjoyed staying involved at school, so I participated in several extracurricular activities such as theater, choir and art classes, as well as volleyball and cheerleading. In eighth grade, I was elected Student Council president, and I greatly enjoyed this leadership position. Since that moment, I was inspired to get involved in politics in the future. In high school, I took a more academic route in my extracurricular activities; I became a member of the debate and Academic Decathlon teams. I also held leadership positions in the National Honors Society and Student Council.
"I attended the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program at Taft High School. IB helped me tremendously because I learned so much. I was pushed beyond my limits academically, which helped me succeed as a student. I had wonderful teachers who supported me and believed in me. I remember a time when I wanted to quit IB, and the program director assured me that I was capable of finishing it. Thanks to my support system, I earned the IB Diploma. I attended Chicago Public Schools my entire childhood and I could not be happier with the schools I attended." 

Extra support from her parents has helped Natalie succeed throughout her education.

"In addition to my English academic setting, I also attended Polish School every Saturday from first grade until junior year of high school where I learned Polish history, literature and geography. As a young child, I was mad at my parents for making me go to school on Saturdays in addition to the weekdays. By high school, I realized how important my Polish heritage was to me, and I was appreciative of what my parents had done. They have been a tremendous help to me over the years. I could not have been as successful without them. They taught me the value of getting an education, hard work and dedication. Because of this, I have been motivated and ambitious since kindergarten to do well in school." 

As a first-generation student, TRIO Student Support Services has helped Natalie successfully navigate through DePaul.

"Being a first-generation college student, I felt lost when I came to college. I was successful in elementary and high school, but I was unsure what to expect in college. TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) helped me alleviate some stress because the advisors were there to help me. During each advising session, we would discuss my goals and future plans. The advisors made a difference in me being able to pursue my longer-term goals. In addition, several professors at DePaul took interest in my education and advised me and were always willing to help me throughout my undergraduate years. 
"One obstacle that I had to overcome in the process of pursing a college education was finances. A college education is extremely expensive! Luckily, I received some financial aid, but I did not want to burden my parents with the remaining cost. In order to overcome this financial obstacle, I began working so I could pay for my tuition. I am able to successfully manage being a full-time student and a part-time employee even though this means sacrificing some extracurricular activities."

Natalie turned her passion into practical experience through an internship in Washington, D.C.

"To date, my most remarkable experience at DePaul was interning on Capitol Hill and attending Georgetown University during the fall quarter 2012. I am passionate about politics, and I gained both the educational and practical experience with politics during my internship. This was also a unique experience because it was an election year; therefore, I saw a perspective of Washington that many students do not experience. I was inspired to continue my pursuit of working for the government because I learned that the government is good. It was worth every minute because I grew as a student, young adult and an intern. If I could do this experience once again, I would not hesitate and take the chance."​​