ConnecTED helped me gain confidence

NAME: Jenna Smuszkiewicz
MAJOR: Neuroscience
YEAR: 2023
HOMETOWN: Boulder, Illinois

CAMPUS INVOLVEMENT: Wind Ensemble, Student Research, Tri Beta, Phi Eta Sigma, ConnecTED

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG: My mom visited Wartburg during her college search, and although she chose a different school, she remembered the campus and the great atmosphere that it had. We visited during my junior year of high school, and I went on a few of the Scholarship Days, as well. I stayed with students on campus for the Science Symposium weekend and for my music audition so I was able to see what living on campus would look like. I really liked that experience, and my admissions counselor was helpful with checking in with me and aiding me through the college selection process.

I also liked the smaller size. My second choice was a lot larger, and at that school I would have to be a music major to get a music scholarship. There were more opportunities for me at Wartburg, and I just got to know the people here a lot more than my second-choice school.

WHAT DREW YOU TO THE NEUROSCIENCE PROGRAM: I looked at what Wartburg’s neuroscience program offered, and I got to meet with Professor Larimer Bousquet. She described how every fall semester all the neuroscience majors would come over to her house and hang out. I also found out that you can do research as an underclassman, and I liked that because a lot of other bigger schools don’t have that option for students.

Jenna Smuszkiewicz

WHAT NEUROSCIENCE RESEARCH HAVE YOU DONE: We did biochemical research with ovarian cancer cells. We were looking at the relationship between two proteins, because one protein, called MMP9, is thought to cause tumors because it helps cells move around. We were also looking at the relationship between stopping this cancer’s protein from making tumors. That ended when we began the fall term. I plan to come back during the summer and continue working through the fall.

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH ConnecTED:  During my first year, I went to the Involvement Fair and saw all the clubs on campus. I remember seeing ConnecTED and just thinking about how everyone knows about TED talks and that it would be so cool to get involved.

WHAT IS YOUR ROLE ON THE ConnecTED EXECUTIVE TEAM: When I first joined, I wasn’t an executive team member, but I wanted to have more responsibility and get involved more, so I applied for the executive team as secretary. The team asked if anyone wanted to be the curator, the one who communicates with the speakers, so I took on that role as well. The secretary role is pretty simple; I am the one who takes notes for each meeting and sends them out to each of the team members.  

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING ON THE ConnecTED EXECUTIVE TEAM: I like having the responsibility of working with the speakers and answering their questions. I also enjoy putting everything together and creating that final product. I love collaborating with my team, because I think we all work together well, and we all get our jobs done. ConnecTED is just so fun to be involved in.

HOW HAS BEING INVOLVED WITH ConnecTED HELPED YOU IN THE CLASSROOM: Being involved with ConnecTED has helped me gain confidence. I like sharing my ideas and collaborating and speaking with people. With my position, I had to reach out to the speakers and remind them of deadlines, give critiques, and become more organized overall.

WHAT HAS MADE WARTBURG WORTH IT FOR YOU: Having all these opportunities that I wouldn’t have at any other college. Especially for me as a STEM major, I can be involved in a variety of organization in addition to getting to conduct research that is related to my field of study.