GSO Teaching Fellow: Johanna Voznak
Meet Johanna Voznak, a graduate student orientation (GSO) teaching fellow and master's student in the Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs program. Read on to learn more about her favorite places in Kent, what she enjoys doing in her free time and what advice she has for incoming graduate students.
Where is your hometown?
I was born in Akron, OH but moved away at a young age. I have lived in Illinois, Wisconsin, Texas, Tennessee, and currently have residency in Delaware.
Why did you choose Kent State University?
I am a First-Generation college student, as neither of my parents possess college degrees; however, Kent State holds significance to me and my family. Born in Akron and living in Stow for the first few years of my life, the University was integrated into my childhood as the institution where my mother started but was unable to finish her degree, due to the struggles of juggling work and children. As such, completing my graduate study at Kent State not only would make my family exceptionally proud but also has allowed me to move back to my home state. The Higher Education Administration program also has allowed me to complete coursework on my specific interest area—Community Colleges. Higher ed programs across the country tend to be oriented toward a four-year university perspective, but my long-term professional goals involve working at the community college level. As such, KSU overall was a better fit for me, personally and professionally.
What do you like most about living in/near Kent? Do you have a favorite local spot or activity?
I love how scenic and walkable the immediate Kent area is—I love taking walks!
What is your favorite KSU memory?
Through my Graduate Assistantship with the Office of Student Success Programs, I have been able to work very closely with undergraduate students of all majors. In particular, our office provides leadership development opportunities, such as through the Peer Leader Training Course (PLTC). This past Spring 2022 semester, I worked as a mentor for two undergraduate students that were charged with instructing a section of the PLTC course. We would talk twice a week after nearly every class for the entirety of the semester. Being able to bond with them and provide constructive feedback to help them grow, become more confident, and develop as leaders was incredibly rewarding—it’s the very reason why I love my field. I am continuously blown away by the talent of our undergraduate student leaders.
What are some differences you've noticed in being a graduate student (expectations, pressures, visibility, etc.) than those of an undergraduate student?
As I was preparing to begin graduate school last year, I read all the articles about the heavy workload and high number of readings to expect in grad school. However, as a former English major, I—perhaps foolishly—thought I would be prepared and that the transition would not hit me as hard. That being said, even if your undergrad education was in an area that heavily emphasized reading/writing, expect it to be different in grad school. From my experiences in undergrad, professors would adjust the reading load on weeks that essays were due. In graduate school, this is not always the case, so it becomes crucial to plan ahead carefully and juggle significant amounts of reading and writing simultaneously.
What advice do you have for incoming graduate students?
Prioritize your wellbeing, but also have realistic wellness goals. When I started graduate school, I thought I would be cooking and going to the gym constantly. Instead of setting yourself up for failure by thinking you can go to the gym and home cook meals every day of the week and be superwoman, set a more achievable goal at first. For instance, aiming to go to the gym at least once per week is a more feasible goal to start out with.
Fun Fact About Me:
I play the ukulele! I used to live in Nashville and perform my original music at the Bluebird Café, where Taylor Swift was discovered.