Andrew Mikolajczyk, Marist ‘13
Majored in History with a Public History concentration
What has your career path been to this point?
After leaving Marist, I joined a car dealership as their lot manager where I was in charge of all the cars coming into and out of the dealership. I enjoyed it but it wasn’t where I wanted to stay. I decided that I really wanted to use my degree to teach. I went back to school to get my teaching certificate in NJ. Went through New Jersey City University and obtained my necessary certificates to be able to work in public schools in New Jersey. Currently I’ve been working at West Side High School for four years in Newark, NJ as a US 1 and 2 History teacher primarily teaching 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students in a very economically impoverished environment.
Can you share an experience/memory from your time at HRVI that stands out as meaningful?
I had some great times at HRVI. A lot of my projects involved research and creating resources for teachers to use when teaching about the history of the Hudson River Valley. This really helped me as an educator because I knew how to prepare materials for a classroom, specifically history. While being based out of Newark I don’t have many opportunities in the curriculum to go over Hudson Valley history, I do utilize it during my pre-American Revolution units and my American Revolution units. As well as my in-depth knowledge of Franklin Delano Roosevelt thanks to being a few miles away from the FDR library while living on campus. Another great experience was my idea to make an ebook version of The Hudson River Valley Review. It was a great experience because at that moment in time (2012/2013) ebooks were starting to pick up speed as a viable reading platform. It was very exciting to try, to create and bring forth this idea without any previous experience in making something like that. The great team at HRVI allowed me to take my crazy idea* and create a viable prototype. By the end I was able to create something I was proud of (though it was nowhere close to the polish of something I’d suggest we ask money for) and it was thanks to the guidance and support of HRVI that I was able to take on this idea and bring it to life.
*(HRVI staff here, just to state for the record: we didn't know that Andrew didn't have any experience in creating ebooks!)
How has your experience at HRVI helped you advance your education and/or professional pursuits since graduating from Marist?
My experience at HRVI translated to my current educator position in a number of ways. My work there creating resources for teachers allowed me to transition seamlessly to creating my own resources when needed on different US history topics outside of the Hudson Valley. Another part of the experience was being behind the scenes with educators. How teams and departments work together at HRVI allowed me to be prepared for department meetings, faculty meetings, and working with other teachers.
As HRVI celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2022, do you have any advice for future HRVI interns based on your time at HRVI and your experience in your professional field?
Enjoy every minute of it. Do realize the work you do at HRVI, no matter what capacity it is, will teach you valuable skills that you will use in the work place. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know what to do. If you have an idea, share it. Don’t be afraid to be bold.