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Katie's activities: Chi Alpha Pi sorority, women’s club volleyball

Katie Chojnacki

"Given her excellent performance in microbiology lab, I asked Katie if she'd curate our bacterial culture collection. I'm grateful that she was a reliable and independent caretaker of my stock specimens this past year. I also recommended Katie for a West Nile Virus surveillance internship with the Rock Island Public Health Department during summer 2013. That project extended well into fall term due to the weather, but Katie took it in stride (on top of her regular course load), and her supervisor asked me to recommend another student ‘just like Katie’ for summer 2014! She’ll be an amazing PH professional: if you need something done, just get Katie on board and watch things happen!"

— Dr. Dara Wegman-Geedey, professor, biology

Katie Chojnacki

Majors: Biology
Minor: Africana studies

Internships: West African AIDS Foundation in Accra, Ghana; Rock Island County Public Health Department (surveillance technician)

Post-grad plans: I will attend the University of Illinois at Chicago to obtain my master’s in public health with a concentration in community health science.

Why did you choose to attend Augustana?
I decided to attend Augustana because it was the only school I visited that was welcoming and friendly right away. I was nervous about moving this far away from home (I’m originally from Colorado), and at Augie I did not feel nervous at all!

Are you where you thought you’d be four years ago?
I am nowhere close to where I thought I would be four years ago. I originally came to Augie planning on going to medical school because I thought it was what people who liked science were supposed to do. I could not be happier with my discovery in finding my passion for public health even though it’s not at all what I thought I would be doing!

Who helped you get to where you are now?
I’ve had two professors who not only pushed me in my classes, but also helped me develop into the person I’ve become. Without their support and encouragement, I would not have pursued many of the opportunities Augustana has presented me that inevitably made my life better.

A peak experience?
My peak experience was my study abroad trip to Ghana. This experience forced me to reach out of my comfort zone and push myself to be immersed in a completely new culture. Ghana was also the first place I was able to hold a position in my major, which ultimately lead me to pursue public health as a career. The experience has given me life experience and memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. (It also does not hurt to have this experience to put on my résumé and talk about in interviews.)

What did you learn about yourself in these past four years that surprised you?
In the past four years, I have learned that I can do anything I set my mind to. This includes leadership opportunities, getting better grades, joining a sorority... the list goes on and on. My Augustana experience has given me the motivation and confidence that I can be successful in all of my endeavors.

How did you use your Augie Choice?
I used my Augie Choice to fund my study abroad trip to Ghana.

What will you miss the most?
When I graduate, I will miss the sense of community the most. I am fortunate to be a part of a sorority and many other clubs that have truly given me a home away from home. It’s been nice to have a constant sense of support through the last four years!

Advice for the Class of 2018?
Do not hold yourself back! Join every club that interests you and truly just be yourself. The time goes very fast so enjoy it while you are here.