Campus Cutie: Meet Samantha Grzybek

This week’s campus cutie is an incredibly talented girl with great ambitions. Whether you’re going to the pirate tutoring center, looking for a club to join, or just want someone to speak a foreign language with, she’s your girl! When she’s not doing work, you can find her reading a classic or relaxing with her fur baby watching a good movie. This goal driven, intelligent cutie is bound to do amazing things one day. Meet Samantha Grzybek: a girl with plans to change the world, one student at a time! 

Name: Samantha Grzybek

Nickname: Sammi or Sam

Hometown: Goldsboro, NC

Year: Senior(5th year)

Major: Russian Studies and English (also receiving a TESOL certificate)

Minor: Linguistics

Favorite Quote: "Not all those who wander are lost" --J.R.R. Tolkien

Favorite Animal: Cat

Favorite Movie: It’s a tie between Alice in Wonderland (2010), and Les Miserable (2012).

Fun Fact: I have an awesome tortie colored cat named Sasha!



HC: What’s your favorite part about being an ECU Pirate?

Samantha: I have to say that my favorite part about being an ECU pirate is the diversity, and the availability of different programs and events that occur on campus.


HC: What organizations are you a part of on campus?

Samantha:  - Co-President of the English Club

                    - Ambassador of Foreign Languages student council

                    -Sigma Tau Delta (English Honors society)

                   - Russian tutor at PASC(Pirate academic success center)

                   - Intern at North Carolina Literary Review

                   - Study Abroad Alumni (I went to St. Petersburg, Russia this summer)


HC: Can you tell us what Sigma Tau Delta is? What’s your favorite part about being in it?

Samantha: Sigma Tau Delta is an international English Honor society association. It provides English majors with opportunities for scholarships, academic recognition, as well as various publication opportunities. I really enjoy it because the faculty and students who are associated with Sigma Tau Delta have a true passion for the English language and literature, which is something that I am also very passionate about.


HC: What made you want to pursue a major in Russian studies and English? Are you currently doing anything special for these majors?

Samantha: I have always been interested in Russian language and culture since I was younger, which is perhaps due to my Slavic heritage.  Therefore, I decided that pursuing a major in Russian studies was a great choice for me, as I really enjoy learning about the language, literature, and culture of Russia. Additionally, I am very passionate about literature, which was why I decided to also pursue a major in English as well. Because I am thinking about teaching English as a second language in the future, I am currently working towards obtaining a certificate in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), which would allow me to go abroad to teach English. I hope to eventually go to Russia to teach, so that I can become fluent in the Russian language.

For my Russian Studies major, I am currently working on a research thesis regarding Russian writer Nikolai Leskov,  who wrote during the 19th century. I am studying the theory of translating many of his works into English, as well as how these translations have been received in Anglophone countries. As for my English major, I am currently an intern at North Carolina Literary Review, where I am learning how to edit and publish for a magazine at a professional level.




HC: What was it like doing study abroad in Russia? Do you have any favorite memories?

Samantha: Overall, it was an amazing experience!  It took me a little while to adjust to everything, but in the end, I had a lot of fun. The trip helped me to become much more independent than I had ever been before in my life. I eventually found myself walking the streets of St. Petersburg with no problem, and, by the end of the trip, was even able to communicate at a stable level in Russian with others. Some of my favorite memories include exploring various museums, attending ballets, and hanging out with some of the Russian friends that we made there.


HC: What do you do in English Club?

Samantha: In English club, we usually have a certain agenda for each club meeting, and we discuss these topics in creative ways. For example, our last meeting's topic was entitled 'Foreign Stuff Day,' which was where we all brought in different materials from other places we have been around the world, or things from other cultures we have learned about and studied. We also have meetings where we will all discuss certain books or literature that we like, or we may have peer review sessions for writing, where a student can ask a fellow club member to look at a piece of writing that they have been working on.  Overall, it is a very welcoming community that comes together to share their passions about books, pop-culture, and anything else that relates to creative or individual expression.


HC: What do you look forward to the most about being a Russian tutor on campus?

Samantha: Because I am very interested in and passionate about Russian language and culture, I hope to help fellow students instill this same type of interest, and also give them any type of advice on various studying methods.



HC: You mentioned that you are working on getting a TESOL certificate. Can you explain what that is?

Samantha: TESOL is an acronym for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. It is a 12hour certificate that allows you to be able to become certified to teach English as a second or foreign language abroad, which sounds like an exciting opportunity, since many countries around the world are more and more eager to hire native English speakers to teach English as a second language. Since the majority of the classes needed for the certificate are linguistics classes, it works very well with my linguistics minor.


HC: What do you see yourself doing in life after college?

Samantha: After college, I plan to go abroad for a couple years to teach English in Russia, as well as maybe Poland and France as well, since I also want to one day become fluent in Polish and French as well. Then, I would like to obtain a master's degree in Translation Studies, and maybe even become a professor in this field eventually.


HC: What’s your favorite book and why?

Samantha: Well, other than Harry Potter, there are probably at least two books that are equally my favorite. I really love the classic novel The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky, as well as The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I really love Dostoevsky's novel because the main character is one who I relate to on a very personal level, which made me love the novel even more.  Also, Dostoevsky's writing is very phonological, and provides the reader with very in-depth descriptions, which really makes you think about things in different ways. As for Gaiman's short novel, I really enjoyed it because it has a sort of magical realism element to it, which I thought was very captivating. Also, the entirety of the novel provided the reader with relatable elements of childhood pasts, which was very refreshing and relatable as well.

In addition to these novels, I am also a big fan of the works of Alexander Pushkin, Anton Chekhov, and William Shakespeare.



HC: Who is your biggest role model?

Samantha: My biggest role models would have to be my parents. They work very hard to make sure that I can attend school and develop my personal career goals, despite any hardships they may face while doing so. They have taught me a lot about the value of hard work, and that it is possible for me to do anything that I set my mind to.


HC: Which fictional character do you relate to the most and why?

Samantha: I would probably say that I relate a lot to Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series. Although a bit quirky with her head in the clouds, she is also very intelligent, and I feel that her quiet, gentle nature is something that I find in myself quite frequently.


HC: Do you have any advice for any girls that want to study abroad or become a Russian studies and/or English major?

Samantha: I would just say to follow your heart and go where your passions lead you, whether that be towards foreign languages and cultures, literature, or wherever else!

As for studying Abroad in Russia:  it's not as scary as it may sound! Although Russia's political system is a little different from ours, and there are some things to be wary of, it is a beautiful country with amazing views, architecture, and culture, and you should definitely go if you get the chance!