Anna CychowskiNovember 9, 2020
Anna is an educator deeply invested in educational equity and college access and success. While she came to the profession of teaching via a non-traditional route, she is grateful for every experience along the way which has made her better for her students. As a middle school teacher for four years in St. Louis Public Schools, she developed her own interactive science curriculum for her classroom as well as the district’s summer school program. After deciding to leave the traditional classroom for College Bound – St. Louis, Anna continues to pursue her passion for college access by coaching first generation high school students to be academically ready for college. After living in St. Louis for seven years post-graduation, Anna relocated to sunny San Diego, CA with her fiance, and is excited to learn more about the education community in California.
What year did you graduate and what was your concentration?
I graduated from Truman in May of 2012 with a concentration in Public Communication.
What extra-/co-curricular activities did you do?
While at Truman I was active at the Catholic Newman Center and in the women’s music fraternity Sigma Alpha Iota. I was also a DJ at KTRM for one semester which was probably one of my favorite activities I did on campus.
Did you go to grad school? If so, where? Was it immediately after you left Truman or did you wait? Why?
I completed my Masters in Education at University of Missouri – St. Louis in August of 2017. I chose to wait to go to graduate school because I was both unsure where I wanted my career to go, and also wanted to be in a situation where I could pay for school without having to take out loans.
What was your first job after graduation?
After two years of full-time volunteer service, I managed marketing and social media for a boutique general contracting firm as well as a competitive youth baseball league.
What work do you do/What are you doing now?
I just moved from St. Louis to San Diego with my fiance. The pandemic has made my work situation a little different. I am working remotely for the non-profit I worked at in St. Louis and doing pod tutoring for some local families in San Diego. The non-profit is called College Bound – St. Louis. I work as an Academic Manager preparing first generation, low-income students to be academically ready for college. In my role I primarily assess students’ needs while preparing them for larger academic hurdles like the ACT and being prepared for their first science and math courses in college.
How has your Liberal Arts/COMM education helped you?
My liberal arts/COMM education gave me the skills and confidence to pursue learning in whatever sparks my interest. The liberal arts experience at Truman gave me a vast array of learning experiences from Agricultural Science, to Art History, to Public Speaking. Now when I am curious about something, I spend the time to learn more about it, even if it is outside my normal realm of interest.
My COMM education made me prepared to enter the workforce. I was equipped with professional skills and knowledge which helped me be flexible in my career choice, and ultimately end up somewhere totally different from where I originally thought.
Which class did you dislike at the time you took it, but now you’re grateful you took it?
Interpersonal Communication was one of the first classes I took as a fully-declared Communication major, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. Throughout my professional career and personal life, I’ve seen how my communication patterns have grown and changed. Having the framework of the Interpersonal Communication course has been incredibly beneficial to me as a teacher and a manager. The course instilled in me a state of constant reflection about my communication style, and how I can adjust and vary my style to make my communication effective to different groups of people.
What was your greatest accomplishment at Truman?
Easy. Being Spike the Bulldog at two home football games.
Why is Truman a good place for a student to study?
Truman is a great place to study because it offers a multitude of experiences with very little risk on the investment of time. I got to take classes in different disciplines while participating in different groups and activities. Some classes I didn’t enjoy, some activities I didn’t keep up for long, but they made my college experience unique and left me with a lot of gratitude for my time at Truman.
What would you say a COMM student should absolutely do while at Truman?
COMM students at Truman should absolutely get to know the professors in the department. Having relationships with professors made my experience as a COMM student so much more interesting because I was learning from teachers who knew me and respected me. So hit up office hours, find a professor you really enjoy, and take all the classes they teach.
What advice would you give someone who wants to go into the same line of work as you?
My advice to anyone who wants to be an educator is to decide what your philosophy is early, and remind yourself of it often. It will keep you grounded and guide you towards the right decisions when times are challenging. Also surround yourself with people who support you but also challenge you to grow. You want to constantly be improving for whoever you teach so find a mentor or group that will hold you accountable to that growth.
What do you miss most about campus/Kirksville?
What tag line would you create for the COMM department at Truman?
“You’re never not communicating. Why not be an expert?”
If you could come back to Truman and teach a class for a semester, what would be its title and what would it be about?
I would love to teach a class in the Education department called “Racial & Trauma Informed Communication for Educators.” In the classroom there were many times I wished I had more guidance on how I spoke to students from an instructional and disciplinary standpoint. Additionally, systems and expectations communicate on their own without being verbalized. My hope for teaching this hypothetical course is that teachers could practice communication and build systems for their future classrooms that are both effective and do not cause unintentional harm to their students.
What did we not ask that you think is important for people to know?
Please wear a mask! But other than that, I think we covered everything!
If you would like to learn more of Anna’s story, you can follow her on LinkedIn.