Interview with Ms. Wiencek

1) When you were in High School what did you want to study in college?
(a) I wanted to be a teacher, I was very fortunate to have really awesome English teachers, in particular, going through high school who cared about me as a person and not just a student.

2) What motivated you to become an English teacher? Did you ever stray away from the route of being a teacher?
(a) It affords itself as a subject to talk more about life and not just as the discipline of the subject. Teaching writing is one of my favorite things to do, it teaches you how to be an effective communicator across a wide variety of audiences. No matter what you do in life you are going to need to know how to communicate effectively, whether that is through the written word such as an email or a lab report. Building on that vocabulary and learning how to reach people is a really important life skill.
(b) Oh yes! There was a point in high school where I thought I wanted to be a physical therapist because I always wanted to be in a helping profession. Then I remembered I am terrible at both math and science so physical therapy was ruled out pretty quick.
3) What did you look for in a college?
(a) I looked for a place where I felt known and where I knew I mattered, it was important to me that I had a place where I could not only get a great education but I could also grow as a person. I needed to find a school where I did not feel like I would fall through the cracks, I wanted to be able to talk to my professors and get help when I needed it. Having a college where I felt a part of a community was important to me and I found that within Marquette, especially the education side of campus.

4) How did you decide that you wanted to attend Marquette?
(a) I actually didn’t want to go in the first place, but my junior year spring break my parents wanted me to go on a campus tour. When I saw the academic side of campus it was absolutely beautiful, the entire tour I was still viewing it as a negative place but by the end, I had to swallow my pride. I told my parents that this was the place for me and I loved it ever since.

5) How has it been adjusting from going to a public high school as a teen, compared to working at a much smaller Catholic private high school?
(a) It’s so different from everything I experienced, I did not know some of the kids in my graduating class, and my class was bigger than the size of Dominican as a whole. Just the fact that I had never met plenty of the faculty and many teachers didn’t even know who I was. That is a stark contrast because I feel like I know at least the face of everybody who attends Dominican.

6) If you currently had kids would you feel comfortable sending them here for high school or would you prefer for them to go to your old high school? And why?
(a) I think the community aspect of Dominican is really excellent. There is a place for every kid who goes here to call home. There is some niche environment that’s going to make them feel very supported and connected which most schools don’t have. I think for most schools they may have a wide population of kids who are involved in stuff, but then there is a group of kids who just get completely ignored and slip through the cracks, and that just does not happen here. All of our teachers know when a kid is struggling and we try our best to help students do better in any way we can.

7) If you could talk to your high school self what would you tell yourself to help you navigate through high school easier?

(a) Go easier on yourself, its ok to have high standards, and to put pressure on yourself to a certain extent. Yes, care about school but remember school is not the only thing that defines you, and to be nicer to yourself.

8) What advice would you tell Dominican students who are reading this article?
(a) The word I use to help my volleyball players, that my sister and her friends created is ‘Twack’. This is when one thing goes wrong and then you panic because you over-focus on the one mistake, causing you to make more mistakes and you end of psyching yourself out mentally. So take a deep breath, learn to prioritize, reach out to teachers or friends, anyone really. Use your study halls and do your best to stay focused on your work and get your stuff done. Reach out if you need help, Dominican wants to help you and they do not want to see you struggle.

9) What would you say is the best advice you have given to a Dominican Freshman?
(a) Organization, organization, I say that twice because they also need to work on their listening abilities. Middle school is very different from your future high school experience, you will be held accountable for your work and being on time to class, being prepared, and actually studying does matter a lot in high school.

10) What is the most important lesson you learned from high school and from college? Life experience wise or just academically?
(a) Learn how to study early on, you need to try in college and even if you think high school was easy you will still have to try in college. You are responsible for your education and you need to stay focused and you need to buckle down and work for what you want.

About the author

Noraclare O'Neill