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Learning to learn: Olszewski has transformed at MC

Barry McNamara
As Monmouth College junior Mike Olszewski answered questions during an interview for his “Learning to Learn” profile, he came across as articulate, confident and professional.
That’s a far cry, he said, from his first days on campus.
“I was a long-haired, shy freshman,” said the product of Cary-Grove High School. “I had no idea what the future had in store for me. I was just trying out this new thing called ‘college.’ It’s been scary at times, but it’s been a thrill. College has helped me become mature and organized – I’ve become an adult. I can see my future ahead of me, and I’m grasping it.”
That grasp is thanks in part to a decision he made early on.
“I wanted to become an art teacher,” he said of his initial plans. “(Communication studies professor) Trudi Peterson got me to switch. I really enjoyed her ‘Interpersonal Communication’ class.”
Olszewski said he loves that he is working with trained professionals in the communication studies department, such as Joe Angotti, former executive producer of NBC Nightly News.
“I’ve learned as much as I can from each and every one of them, and I have a great rapport with them, both in class or just talking to them,” he said.
His goal is to get into broadcast news and reporting. He will be a video production intern this summer at D. Hudson Productions in Elgin, a creative marketing and advertising firm, soaking up the business while assisting in a variety of ways. He was also promoted at his job at Cary Country Club, where he will be in charge of advertising and social media this summer.
When asked about other courses in the department, Olszewski recalled “Communication Criticism,” taught by Kate Zittlow Rogness.
“There was a lot of discussion and applying and analyzing various critical perspectives and methods,” he said.
For the course, he wrote a 25-page paper titled “The Narrative Paradigm: The Rolling Stones ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ – A Strategic Rhetoric of Whiteness.” The paper was accepted by the Undergraduate Communication Research Conference in St. Paul, Minn., where Olszewski will present his analysis on April 26.
Olszewski also enjoyed “Multi-Media Production” and his classes in journalism.
“I’m not as bad of a writer as I thought I was,” he said, crediting Angotti for getting him out of his comfort zone, so much so, in fact, that he will be the sports editor of The Courier, MC’s student newspaper, next fall.
His work in journalism, he said, has helped him with critical thinking by “asking questions of the people who are asking the questions.”
Olszewski still stays involved with art, adding it as a minor, along with journalism.
“Working in the art studio helps me get my mind away from stress,” he said.
So does his principal extracurricular activity – regularly competing among the top five members of the Fighting Scots men’s golf team.
Olszewski said the team’s goal is to win the Midwest Conference title and advance to the national championship meet.
“Individually, I would love to be the medalist at the conference tournament,” he added. “This group of guys means so much to me, and it would mean a lot to win the championship with them.”
That will be determined at the MWC meet May 2 – 4. Through April 15, Olszewski is fourth on the team this season with six scoring rounds. His scoring average is 81.3.
In addition to his major and his extracurricular activities, Olszewski said he appreciates being exposed to all that Monmouth has to offer academically.
“I enjoy the liberal arts exposure, the critical thinking, the well-rounded education,” he said. “I’m very, very interested in sustainable energy, so I really enjoyed my Global Perspectives class on the environment. I did a report on wind turbines for that class. My Reflections class was ‘Beyond Belief.’ The professor, Ken Cramer, did a good job of staying in the middle. He let us decide and weigh the arguments between science and religion. I never would have thought of taking a course like this when I went to college.”
That’s just one of the many transformations Olszewski has experienced in his first three years at Monmouth College.