When Meg Grzenia sat down to be interviewed for Monmouth College’s “Learning to Learn” series, she was a willing subject. Grzenia understood the procedure, as she plans to use her communication studies major to get into the business of interviewing others.
“The goal? Well, I would really like to get into journalism or internal communications at a company, getting involved with management strategies,” said the senior from Lake in the Hills. “Or maybe public relations. I’ve got it in my head that I’ve love to give a TED Talk (podcasts on technology, entertainment and design devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading”), and I’d also like to write a book on communication strategies.”
When Grzenia enters the workforce in May, she will already have some valuable experience. On campus, she has written for the student newspaper and has served as the social media executive for WMCR, working behind the scenes to help drive the radio station’s content and provide audience members the type of programming they want to hear.
Off campus, Grzenia enjoyed her summer internship at McHenry County Living Magazine.
“Doing that type of writing allowed me to travel and to meet new people,” she said. “It’s fun for those people to share their stories, but it’s fun for me, too.”
Grzenia was home-schooled all the way through high school, so when it came time to pick a college, she initially opted to stay in her area, attending McHenry County College and earning her associate’s degree. She then followed her sister, Mary Grezenia ’12, to Monmouth.
“Your experience is what you make of it,” she said of her two years at McHenry. “I had a good experience there, but an even better one here at Monmouth.”
Grzenia, who got her “gen eds out of the way” at McHenry, has enjoyed focusing on courses in her major – and journalism minor – at Monmouth, as well as integrated studies courses.
“I really enjoyed a Reflections class that I took with Carolyn Suda called ‘Sacred Voices,’” she said. “One of the books we read was ‘The Pianist,’ about a Jewish Pole during World War II. He really struck a chord with me, in part because of the great connection he had with music.”
Grzenia related the story of how the title character was hiding in an abandoned apartment to escape the Holocaust. When he overheard a couple arguing about the correct way to play a piano, all he yearned for was the “normalcy” to be able to just touch a piano again.
“In contrast, I can play anywhere I want to,” said Grzenia. “I feel I really connected with him.”
Grzenia has taken advantage of a music opportunity offered to her on campus, auditioning for and earning a spot with The Sassy Lassies, a 17-member women’s a cappella group. The ensemble’s final performance of the year will be a concert in late April.
“Joining that group was one of the best decisions I’ve made here,” she said. “Singing is something I enjoy, and it can help take my mind off of school for a while.”
Grzenia credits her experience in another integrated studies course, “Local Heroes,” for gaining valuable insight into human relations.
“That was pretty difficult for some of us,” she said. “We had to take ourselves out of our Monmouth College bubble and get into the community. We were working with the local Latino community, so we also had to get away from stereotypical thoughts. In order to collect some of the objects we needed for our upcoming exhibit, we really had to establish a rapport with them, and that was a rewarding part of the class.”
Grzenia can tell a notable difference between the home-schooled high school senior she was four years ago and her current status as a soon-to-be Monmouth graduate.
“I know it sounds cliché, but I’ve definitely grown as a person,” she remarked. “I feel comfortable putting myself out there and trying new things. I’ve also learned about relationships and how if you put the effort into them, they’ll work out fine.”
For example, she said, she has benefited from the assistance of Stephanie Kinkaid, program coordinator of the college’s Wackerle Career and Leadership Center.
Concluded Grzenia, “I love learning. I know that sounds geeky and nerdy, but our communication department really values that – to never stop asking questions. Randy Pausch (known for his “Last Lecture”) said ‘Never lose that childlike wonder.’ You never know where it will take you.”