Confused about your college options? You’re not alone.
Maja Szostak, SUNY Broome’s Interim Director of Admissions, is an eager guide. A part of the SUNY Broome Admissions team for three years, she’s currently filling in for Director Elisabeth Constanzo Stewart, who is on leave until February.
“I want people to know they can come here with any question or problem or inquiry they have. We’re here to help students make the best decisions for their lives,” said Szostak, a first-generation college student herself.
Originally from Poland, Maja immigrated with her parents at the age of 14. Her parents didn’t initially speak English and had no exposure to higher education themselves. When it came time to consider college, Maja was on her own.
“When I was looking at colleges, I didn’t know what the SUNY system was. I didn’t visit campus until I was moving in that first day,” she said. “It worked out for me, but I wish I would have known about other possibilities.”
She earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from Niagara University, and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in student affairs from Binghamton University. At Niagara, she worked as a student ambassador in the Admissions office. Before coming to SUNY Broome, she worked in social services with foster care youth and at-risk teenagers – which ultimately led her full-circle, back to Admissions.
“I was working with a population that didn’t have access to a lot of opportunities, such as higher education. I thought, if I really want to make any difference, it would be a good idea to go back to higher education and help people access those better opportunities,” she reflected.
Maja, who speaks fluent Polish, also finds herself connecting with immigrant students, particularly those from Eastern Europe. Not only are their languages similar, they face similar struggles in integrating themselves into American culture.
“In February, I’m going to Poland. It’s important to connect to your roots after you’ve been away for a while,” she said.
As a member of SUNY Broome’s Admissions team, she works with a wide range of prospective students, whether they’re first-generation or returning to school, plan to enter the workforce after graduation or transfer to a university. Some have their entire trajectories mapped out before they apply, while others are still exploring their interests.
The diversity of the community college population is striking, and so are their opportunities and options. Maja Szostak, who was once on her own figuring out the college maze, makes sure that students have the information they need to make those important choices wisely.
If you have any questions, don’t be shy: Stop by the Admissions office, or give them a call.
“Come here and feel comfortable. Let us help you explore all of your options,” she said.