By Anna Synakh || Managing Editor
As college students, we often settle ourselves in a plan and fear variation from that predetermined path. We pick our top grad programs, select the main companies we want to work for. We curate our resumes and cover letters just so perfectly and precisely to ensure that our future is locked in. We seek stability and control in our every move, picking classes based on their necessity post-graduation and going to professors’ office hours with confidence that they will write out recommendation letters. This type of behavior is typical for students who have been taught to climb the ladder of education so they can reach success. You must pass each step to reach the next, and we all must move together: first grade to second, second to third, and so on, until we reach the outside world, where, in reality, the ladder no longer exists.
F&M alum Ania Luckiewicz has gone through the ladder herself, but saw faults within it every step of the way. With a major in biology and a minor in music, Ania went through college set on a pre-med track. Having graduated from F&M in December of 2019, Ania decided to take a gap year and began redefining herself in a way that many of us are afraid of – she moved to a completely new state in order to work at a job she had never considered before. She is currently employed as a ski instructor in Colorado and has recently submitted her grad school applications.
To many of us, myself included, taking a gap year and working in a field unrelated to the field of study we have spent four years on seems horrifying, to say the least. However, Ania has proved that it may be the best decision one can make for their career, as it has opened up many doors for her and allowed her to grow immensely over the past two years.
Ania further redefined the essential steps for college graduates, when she hopped on the opportunity to write a book and get published early last year. At the beginning of summer 2019, Ania received a text from her college roommate regarding a program led by a professor at Georgetown, whose course would focus on the business aspect of writing and publishing, setting up the 50-something students with publishers, editors, marketing assistants, etc. Luckiewicz, who has always loved writing, was quite excited about the opportunity, and in an interview with TCR, revealed she didn’t think twice about it. “Ok, yeah!” was her immediate response.
Nearly from the start, the F&M alum knew what she wanted to write about: the education system that she has grown up with and all of its faults. “The way that we do things now is we group kids of the same age and make them one unit and then move them along,” she said, highlighting that the units are forced to move as one from one grade to another, leaving major learning gaps. “Person A would get a 95% on their exam, person B an 80%, person C gets a 72%, and they all pass, even though each doesn’t get a certain percent of the material. And a big hole like that causes cracking in the foundation,” Ania explained. This passing-based culture never made sense to Ania, as life doesn’t work that way. “You don’t do anything like that,” she said with frustration in her voice, as we sat nodding in agreement.
She has always been fascinated by the faults of the current education system and had written an education reform proposal during her years at F&M, which her brother claimed to be her worst piece of writing yet (he claimed it to be dry, but what else does one expect from a policy document?). That proposal in time served her as a fantastic building block for her book. The fictional novel fast-forwards readers to the year 2048 and lets them follow three college friends, Katie, Merritt, and Raegen, as they seek to rebuild their failing society through education reform.
Ania hopes that by reading the book, readers will be able to reflect on their own educational experiences as she often reflects on her own. When asked specifically about F&M and how it can change, she responded, “The ability to pause, repeat, speed up, and review something from the past is crucial to maximizing learning and preventing a student from checking out of a subject that’s not their pace. I believe even F&M can endorse giving students agency over learning while encouraging grit, perseverance, and confidence that is massively more important to future success than any one class can offer. I think if we make learning like a game, remove the time constraints, remove the option to score anything less than perfect, then students of any age, whether grade 4 or undergrad, will benefit, and we can humanize the classroom in a way that hasn’t been explored yet.”
Ania Luckiewicz is an example for us all, whether you are an incoming freshman or a graduating senior. She is a reminder to not get caught up in classes, grades, applications, and our overall success. Success can be measured in an endless amount of ways, so prioritize learning, improvement, and happiness over your GPA and ten-year plans. “Things work out. You might not expect things to work out in the way that they do, but they will.” So take Ania’s advice, and jump on every opportunity you are given, and never think of yourself as a failure for taking a path less traveled or seemingly closed off to you.
Ania Luckiewicz’s book “Right the Reset” is available for pre-order here.
Junior Anna Synakh is the Managing Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.