Who would have thought parasites could be so much fun?
Angela Maziarz (may-zee-arz) doesn’t think she would have without a BGSU program that reunited her with her first academic love.
At May 20 commencement ceremonies at Lorain County Community College, the Elyria resident will become the first graduate of the bachelor of science in biology degree program offered by BGSU at the community college. The program was created through a partnership between the two institutions, with classes offered through distance-learning technology as well as in person.
Maziarz, 34, first heard about the partnership from Daisie Reish, for whom she works part time as an accountant assistant at Reish Accounting Services in Grafton. “She knew accounting was not my life goal,” the 1990 Midview High School graduate recalled.
“I had my associate degree in science (from LCCC) and after a few unsuccessful job changes and job layoffs, I thought I’d go back to where I started, in biology,” said Maziarz, who also keeps the books for CommTech Solutions in Grafton.
Before going back to school, she was office manager at Seventh Generation, a nonprofit environmental awareness organization where she worked for five years before its funding dried up. Then, after nine months as volunteer services secretary at Elyria Memorial Hospital, the department was merged into the hospital’s marketing department, and she was out of a job again.
“I was really in the middle of not knowing what I was going to do” when Reish mentioned the new BGSU-LCCC program in 2003, Maziarz said. “I looked into it and said, ‘Why not?’”
“I think I was a little nervous about it, but I had a lot of help,” she added. Reish worked around Maziarz’s class schedule, while her parents and husband helped with other home work such as babysitting their son and daughter.
And family members weren’t the only supportive ones along the way. “All the BG and LCCC teachers and staff, and especially Dr. (Daniel) Pavuk, were extremely helpful in keeping me motivated, on the right track, and challenged,” Maziarz said.
Pavuk, biological sciences, was the program’s first adviser on Bowling Green’s end. He also taught Maziarz’s parasitology class, which she initially thought would be “gross” and didn’t want to take. However, “about halfway through, I realized this was cool, and I really liked it,” she said, describing parasites as “amazing creatures.”
Calling Maziarz “an outstanding student,” Pavuk said “she’s a good example of the type of student (in the program generally) and the desire to get the degree.” She was part of a small group of initial enrollees in the program, which has grown to 29 registered students this semester, noted Dr. Marcia Salazar-Valentine, associate dean of off-campus and summer programs in Continuing and Extended Education (CEE) at BGSU.
The collaboration with LCCC responds to a state and national need for expanded science education “by building on the shared vision and combined strengths of both institutions,” said Dr. William Balzer, associate BGSU vice president and dean of CEE, which provides administrative support to the program.
“BGSU has been very pleased with the success of its program, thanks to the talents and expertise of faculty and staff on both campuses,” Balzer said. The University plans to bring an environmental studies program to LCCC soon and hopes to add other bachelor's degree completion programs there in the future, according to the dean.
Armed with her bachelor’s degree, Maziarz hopes to work with parasites and epidemics, possibly within a county health department. She is currently awaiting a call about a possible internship with the Lorain County General Health District.
“Without the partnership, I would not have realized how much I am fascinated by parasites and re-realized my love for biology,” she said. Without the BGSU-LCCC pairing, she continued, “there would have been very little chance for me to get my degree and a career in a field that I love.”
“Maybe it’s fate,” she added, reflecting on an academic and employment journey that has brought her back where she started—working on environmental issues. “It’s where I’m supposed to be.”