Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: Jen Jozwik

Sixth year mentor Jen Jozwik grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. She went to Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. She originally wanted to study biology, but she graduated with a degree in psychology. In college, she says, “there are a lot of unique opportunities that are not as available when you start working.” You have time to go join multiple clubs and sports teams, attend events, and meet new people, so make the most of it.

In May of her junior year at IWU, Jen took a trip to countries in Southeast Asia, and, in her senior year, she had fun “meeting our primitive cousins” at a chimpanzee sanctuary in Florida. Simply find interesting things to do, she says. Most schools offer financial aid for studying abroad. Don’t be afraid to try it.

Back here in Chicago, Jen works for ADP. Her team implements human resources (HR) software. As team lead, she provides support, assistance, and troubleshooting. In her spare time, Jen loves to read, travel, and exercise. She competes in a triathlon every few years and she always watches the Chicago Marathon. “It is energizing to see so many people. It is an amazing experience.” Perhaps she saw our own Nicole White, who ran the marathon last year to benefit Cabrini Connections.

Jen got involved in our program through her husband, Mike Jozwik. Eight years ago, at Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, she was paired up with 5th grader Vontesha Stanfield and they have been together ever since. “I feel lucky that we’re together,” she says. “[Vontesha] has always been smart. She easily grasps concepts… She knew she wanted to go to college… she’s a really good role model”… the list goes on.

Vontesha, now a senior in high school, was pretty much set on going to Indiana State University, but she recently got accepted to Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She may still choose to stay in the Midwest because she has a lot of family here, but it is a great accomplishment nonetheless. Congratulations, Vontesha!

Jen says that tutoring and mentoring at Cabrini Connections is “an amazing thing to provide kids.” We do a good job of welcoming students, providing leadership opportunities, access to computers, and more. Her tip for new mentors is to find things in common like a TV show, music, sports, or a book. Thank you for the appreciation, and thank you for your commitment. You’re a shining star in the spotlight this week!

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