In the Spotlight – Gabriela Taciak
An accomplished world traveler at the age of 21, Taciak (pronounced "Ta-chak") has been to so many countries, she has lost count. Rather, she counts up the continents she's been to – "Asia, North and South America, all over Europe" – and the ones she wants to get to: "Africa! Also, Australia and New Zealand." She has two passports, one U.S. and one Polish, thanks to parents who are Polish nationals. Her family also gave her a love for travel – taking her and her two brothers to Poland almost yearly, and encouraging her travels around the world.
Gabriela credits Farmingdale with making it possible for her to combine studying and travel. "I came to Farmingdale after two other schools, and Farmingdale is by far the best school when it comes to advising -- and it's the only place where it was face to face." On her very first day on campus, junior year – in fact, before she was even admitted – she had help figuring out that an STS major would make the most of her various credits in English, Spanish, Psychology and Business. "I applied online, but I hadn't heard anything, so I just stopped by. I spoke with someone who suggested STS, and they accepted me right on the spot!"
Just a few weeks ago, Gabriela was working in the office of the President of Poland, in what they call the Presidential Palace, drafting letters and business proposals for a meeting that President Bronisław Komorowski was about to host for the President of China. The meeting was postponed, when Komorowski flew to Rome to participate in inauguration ceremonies for the newly-chosen Pope Francis I; but that brought Gabriela a cultural experience, as well. "Poland is a very Catholic country. I was sitting in a bar in Warsaw, and there was dead silence while we waited for the announcement... but when the name was announced, it was chaos – just like the Super Bowl here." While in Poland, she traveled all around Europe; Austria and Slovakia are just two of the places she took in.
For first semester, Gabriela studied in Spain, at the University of Salamanca. "(Studying in)Spain was a dream of mine; I visited it 10 years ago with my family, and I chose it then." She realized that she needed Spanish courses beyond those that were available on campus, and Farmingdale helped her put it all together.
"I have nothing but positive comments about everyone here," says Taciak. "Everyone was concerned that I get what I needed; they followed up...and they are all very kind." She is especially appreciative of Professor Robert Saunders, who helped her put together her two internships in Poland. "He's amazing."
Taciak has advice for everyone when traveling: "Keep an open mind. Try new things. We have to give other countries the benefit of the doubt. Do they do things differently? Sure; try it! Explore, see it all, take it all in – I look at everything as a life lesson."
Taciak is taking her own advice for her plans after graduation. "My policy is to be open and accepting of everything." She is interested in teaching, administration, or marketing, or some combination of the three. "My ultimate dream is to be part of the U.N." Or, perhaps, part of Farmingdale: "I am definitely looking into what the school can offer. I'd love to give back, since it has already done so much for me."