From northwest Indiana to southern California, John Szura knows hard work and determination can forge new pathways in life. During his time at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), he channeled his passion and PNW education toward achieving his goals.
After graduating from Highland High School (Indiana), Szura worked several jobs before realizing he needed to find a better path to realize his dreams. After considering several potential careers, he applied to Purdue University Northwest’s bachelor’s degree in psychology.
“Purdue University Northwest was actually the only university that I chose to apply to when pursuing an undergraduate degree,” Szura said. “I am considered a first-generation college student, and prior to enrolling, I had no knowledge of collegiate education or anything closely related to it. Thus, my choice to enroll and attend PNW was based heavily on my excitement with being accepted by the university, as I never would have thought it possible.”
Striving for success and juggling it all
Not knowing what to expect, Szura decided to take 12 credit hours his first semester. He quickly learned that he could do more. So he increased his class schedule and took advantage of the many student opportunities that Purdue Northwest has to offer.
He participated in various clubs and organizations. He became president of the Psychology Club; vice president of the international honor society in psychology, Psi Chi; and senior senate member for the Honors College within Student Government, to name a few.
Before graduating from PNW in May 2018, Szura presented at more than 10 separate research conferences, participated in a study abroad program in Cuba, worked and volunteered at a local YMCA, and traveled to numerous universities through the McNair program to gain information about graduate school opportunities.
“All of the organizations, activities, and events I’ve been a part of while at PNW aided in my personal development as an academic and they have contributed to my success by providing a plethora of diverse experiences for me to draw from when considering my future goals,” Szura said.
As if he wasn’t busy enough, Szura helped create a free book exchange program on campus. He also juggled between one to three jobs while maintaining his studies.
Reality kicks in
Szura’s most pivotal experience while at PNW came during a semester in which he was enrolled in 21 credit hours.
“During that time, I was also involved with several different clubs, organizations, and research projects; I was scheduled to present at more than five different research conferences; and I was balancing a schedule of working two jobs and preparing to study abroad in Cuba,” Szura explained.
“Needless to say, I discovered my limits that semester,” Szura said. “It was also when I realized my passions.”
A degree that opened many doors
To achieve his dream, Szura knew a doctoral degree was next after earning his bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in English from Purdue Northwest. He applied to several top research institutions across the country. After being accepted into five Ph.D. programs, Szura chose the University of California, Irvine.
Relocating to the West Coast this past summer, Szura participated in Competitive Edge, a summer research program led by the Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience (DECADE) program on Irvine’s campus. He began work on his Ph.D. in Education, specializing in language, literacy, and technology this fall.
Long term career goals
“After receiving my doctoral degree, I intend to seek employment as a university professor with the intention of forming and leading my own research laboratory,” Szura said. “I give credit to the incredible, motivating faculty who were willing to be mentors to me. They helped me to find direction with my studies and in my life.”