International exchange student Radek Eryk Bachorz might not yet know where he's going to end up, but it's safe to say it'll be an interesting ride getting there.
The 26-year-old native of Poland is completing his fourth year of study at the U of L, turning what was initially a one-year exchange opportunity into an entirely new life with no apparent boundaries.
"I'm trying to keep the broad perspective on everything," says Bachorz when asked about his career aspirations. "Having a narrow goal isn't the best for me, it's about having wide horizons and looking for something that will really be satisfying, not necessarily profitable at first, but will put a smile on my face and make me happy to go to work every day."
Currently studying international management with minors in supply chain management and social responsibility, Bachorz actually already has a master's degree. He completed his master's in Investment and Corporate Financial Strategies in August 2010 from Poznan University of Economics in Poland, a degree supplemented by his exchange work here at the U of L.
But Bachorz's experience is about so much more than the classroom, something he only discovered after finishing his master's and took another look at his education.
"After completing my degree, I got really involved in student life last year," says Bachorz. "I totally changed my way of attending school, where I realize it's not only about getting good marks, it's also about extra-curricular activities."
His involvement with the Faculty of Management's JDC West business case competition was the impetus.
"My co-captains, Jill Morrison and Travis Letwin, put me in this different world and opened my eyes on new opportunities," he says. "I really wanted to give something back to the Alberta community, but there were too many things taking up my time, and I was really determined to finish my degree back in Europe. Last fall I decided to focus a bit less on being outstanding academically to try and get more involved in non-academic activities."
He volunteered for YWCA Lethbridge and the Humane Society, helped out the Management International Programs Office as a mentor in their buddy program, participated in the International Centre for Students (ICS) Cultural Expo and was keen to assist at various faculty functions such as Management Preview Day. This past spring he spent a week hustling change outside the Students' Union as one of the 5 Days for the Homeless participants and gladly had his head shaved (for the fourth straight year) as a supporter of the Head Shave for Cancer initiative.
"When I had the opportunity to take less of a course load, I knew this is what I wanted to do," says Bachorz. "It's not just about the GPA, it's also about getting
involved and participating in the student life."
He credits the U of L culture for helping him thrive in his new country, and gives thanks to both the ICS (especially Charlene Janes) and the International Exchange program in the Faculty of Management (specifically Andrea Amelinckx, Rhonda Crow and Gizelle Tiponut) for helping in his transition.
"Honestly, after the first semester, I was so impressed with how approachable everybody was," he says. "It's a very practical atmosphere here, so many small groups, you can really go to your prof or any faculty or staff member and you'll be treated as a valuable student, not just one of a thousand.
"After just a few semesters I found you would be called by name in the hallways and that was very surprising to me. I had never seen anything like that before. You are really treated as a person here, not just someone known by their Student ID number, who is coming to get a degree and leaving the university unnoticed."
When exactly he'll finish his degree, he's not sure. Right now he's looking to secure a job on campus to stay in Lethbridge for the summer. Beyond that, he will continue to learn and look to make an impact, wherever that may lead him.
"Education is the best investment," says Bachorz. "I have learned so many valuable things from people I've met. The relationships you make are invaluable. You guys in Canada are so supportive. It is great to be given such an amazing opportunity to live and study here."
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