Lifetime of Global Study, Travel Enhances Recruitment
In coordination with the Recognition and Rewards Committee of the ECU Staff Senate, the Pieces of Eight series honoring exceptional ECU staff recognizes Monika Wojciechowski.
By Judy Currin
Monika Wojciechowski has crossed many borders to get to East Carolina University. Originally from Poland, she has studied in France, Italy and the U.S. She began learning English at the age of 13, and speaks Polish, French and Italian.
“Exploring new places and learning languages has always been a part of my life,” Wojciechowski said. “I owe it all to my parents who understood the great benefits of global understanding and discovery. They opened the world to me through travel.”
Now Wojciechowski applies her experiences as assistant director for international student recruitment at ECU’s office of International Affairs. When she invites international students to embark on a journey to study at ECU, Wojciechowski knows just how difficult, exciting and valuable that adventure might be.
“I am responsible for increasing and diversifying ECU’s international student population,” Wojciechowski said. Since arriving in May, she has worked to promote ECU to the global community by modifying the center’s web site and sending materials to EducationUSA advising centers and high schools abroad. She organized the International Student Ambassadors who work with newly admitted international students, assist in recruitment in their home countries and volunteer at the New International Student Orientation. Faculty members from Jamaica, Columbia, China, South Korea and Turkey have shared contacts, aided in recruitment and distributed literature. The department has recently started participating in recruitment fairs.
Crossing borders has not always been easy. Wojciechowski was born on the north coast of Poland, in Gdansk, the birthplace of the Solidarity movement.
“I grew up during turbulent times when martial law was implemented between 1981 and 1983,” Wojciechowski said. “Portion cards and curfews became a way of life.” She said traveling abroad during those times required standing in line for days to get a passport, which had to be returned after the trip.
“My travels began first with neighboring countries,” she said. “Going anywhere else was simply too complicated and too expensive.”
After high school she ventured to the UK and came back with a sufficient command of the English language to enter a Foreign Language Teachers Training College. “None of my classmates believed that I would one day teach English in the U.S.,” Wojciechowski said. “I spent ten years doing just that.”
She moved to the U.S. in 1995 and enrolled in Hunter College where she majored in romance languages. She joined semester-long exchange programs in France at the University of Paris XII and in Italy at the University of Pavia. “The most eye-opening, life-changing experiences and adventures came with being an exchange student,” she said. “I studied the languages and the literature, learned survival skills and made the friendships of a lifetime.”
“Wojciechowski brings to ECU experience and knowledge gained as a student, teacher and advisor,” said Terry Rodenberg, assistant vice chancellor and director of International Affairs. “She has done an exceptional job leading our new admissions and recruiting initiatives.”
Wojciechowski believes working with individuals is the most rewarding aspect of her job.
“International students offer us a global perspective on social, political and economic matters,” she said. “While they are here to learn from us, we also learn from them. They enrich our lives so that we can get a better understanding of the world we live in today.”