Meet Augie Alum Janelle Kozelichki (Gothner)

Say hello to one of my buddies, Janelle Kozelichki! I've gotten to know her through mutual friends, and over the years we've played a variety of video games, I watched her get married at Augustana in 2014, and have gotten so much meaningful advice from her about college, jobs, and life in general.

 

When you went to Augustana, what was your major, why did you choose it, and when did you graduate?

Double major in Biology and Environmental Studies; minor in Geography.

I chose that path because I’ve always been interested in the sciences and I just wanted to do Biology, because I thought I’d go into pre-med, but I found I liked the Ecology and Environmental classes better. I also realized I wanted a job where I could be outside and enjoy/protect nature.  

I started Fall of 2009 graduated in Spring, 2013.

What brought you to Augie in the first place?

It was a school known for its quality science degrees and successful job/graduate school acceptance rates.

Did any faculty members stand out to you the most? Do you ever reconnect with them?

Dr. Kevin Geedey, who taught Ecology and was a key reason for me being inspired to learn more about the subject. He did a fantastic job at explaining topics in a fun and interesting way. If I for some reason were to become a teacher one day, I would try to match my teaching style and energy to his. He did a great job at challenging his students. I took the Hydroecology term with him and I remember struggling to understand the Stream Ecology textbook, he explained to me that this was hard because it was basically graduate level information. I brushed it off not really taking that comment seriously, to later take a Stream Ecology class in Graduate school and use the same text book! I ended up doing really well in that graduate class because I was already familiar with all the complicated topics.

Dr. Reuben Heine was another fantastic member of the Augustana College professors. His energy and passion for his subjects make it hard for students to not become interested and eager to learn.

Where did you make friends on campus?

Gaming Club, Water Polo, Biology/Ecology Classes. I wish I had broken out of my shell sooner and found Gaming Club earlier.

What do you miss the most about being an Augie student?

All the free time! At the time it seemed like I was constantly busy. Looking back now, I realize that was probably the most free time I’ve had since before high school.

Also, constantly being around people of similar interests/age.

If you could redo your college career, what would you change?

I might have double majored in Environmental Studies and Geology. Geology took awesome field trips.

What was your least favorite part about being a student?

The stress. Every part of your life is the most stressful. Then as you age and get past it, you realize it wasn’t that bad. I used to get so overwhelmed with all the papers, tests, group projects, etc.

How did you study for finals?

Reading through my notes, taking notes of my notes, reading through those, making note cards of that to review/study off of. Also, solely eating cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Did you have a favorite or least favorite class?

Hydroecology term was the best. It was a conglomeration of water-based ecology/biology/GIS classes.

Least favorite? Any math course.

What would you change about Augustana?

The cost of living. I feel the cost per credit hour was fair, as you get a great quality education; however, I feel that the dorms/food at the time was not worth the hefty loan prices. I think it was somewhere around $6,000 a trimester just for a small dorm room (and electric/internet/water) that you shared.

When you came to Homecoming in October of 2017, what were you looking forward to?

Seeing friends and how the school has changed. Reminiscing on the good ol' days.

What are you doing these days?

I work at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management as a Wetlands and Streams Project Manager. If people want to impact wetlands and streams, I am the person to process their permit, approve their mitigation plan (if compensatory mitigation is required), as well as go out to do site visits to insure delineations are accurate, things were constructed as authorized, and the mitigation is succeeding. I also deal with complaints and enforcement issues regarding wetlands and streams.

What do you like most about your current job?

Going outside and getting dirty! Walking around wetlands and streams (either natural or constructed) and seeing how they are doing. I also like the educational component of my job where I can explain the importance (ecologically and financially) of wetlands and streams and why we shouldn't just fill them all in or straighten them all out.

How can students adjust to a workplace environment?

Try to be as self-sufficient as possible, work hard, and ask questions. Ask questions even if it's five years down the road and you should already know it. It’s better to be a fool for a few minutes and learn from it than be ignorant and not do your job correctly forever.

What would you tell your freshman self?

Stop being shy, go to gaming club, and just in general get out of your room and make friends (don’t just hang out with the kids who went to your high school who also went to Augie). Also, try harder/seek more help in math because graduate school math courses will eat you alive (they did, but I survived with ten times more effort and studying than other people who actually understood math).

 

Thank you, Janelle, for taking the time out of your busy schedule as a real adult to tell us all about your experiences!