Young Alumnus Committed to Teaching
By Thomas Webb
When the weather warms up, you can occasionally see a man sitting alone in the grass behind Eisenhower. With his shoulder length hair pulled back into a tight ponytail to not block his eyes, he looks out onto campus. Breathing in a slow rhythm, he takes in the construction, the people and animals passing by, and the trees towering over him.
This meditation is just one part of Adam Szetela's daily routine, along with spending time in the gym, researching, and teaching. Szetela recently graduated from K-State with his master's degree in English, and is currently an instructor teaching Expository Writing and "Fiction into Film" in the English Department.
As a student, Szetela was the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, including the very competitive Timothy R. Donoghue Scholarship, awarded by the K-State Graduate School to a small number of distinguished incoming students, and the Earle R. Davis Outstanding Graduate Student Scholarship. Szetela attributes much of his success to commitment, discipline, and clarity.
"I think something that benefited me as a graduate student at K-State, and continues to benefit me as both a teacher and a researcher, is being clear about what I want and why I want it," said Szetela. "I write down my goals, I figure out a plan to achieve those goals, and then I commit to that plan through whatever obstacles and challenges may come up. But the biggest thing, aside from consistent action, is knowing why you want what you want."
As an instructor, Szetela has brought a similar view to his teaching. Beyond critical writing skills, Szetela tries to give his students the tools they need to understand and navigate an increasingly complicated college and post-graduation world.
"Part of this is helping students develop the skills to think critically about the world they live in, so that they do not accept it as something objective, unchangeable, and outside themselves. I truly want them to be participants in their own realities."
Szetela has his students confront their views and understand why they have them. He stresses that college and an education are not just a means to "pull a lever," but a time to think more deeply about the issues confronting us both as individuals and as a society. He sees his teaching as a way to contribute to the world and get closer to his own spirituality.
"One of my teachers once said, 'I work on myself to help others, and I help others as a way to work on myself.' For me, teaching is part of that dialectic," said Szetela.
As Szetela continues with his career he sees himself in a doctoral program, in either English or sociology, researching fitness culture in America. Eventually he aspires to become a professor, something he feels that the faculty and program within the English Department have greatly prepared him for. Szetela uses the skills and knowledge learned during his degree to pursue what is meaningful to him, both as a professional and as a citizen. He hopes that he can bring that to his students as well.
"My end goal is to keep using my skills while aligning what I like to do with things that I feel have broader social value," said Szetela. "The key is aligning what you like to do with, you know, something of benefit to other people."