Student Spotlights

Samantha Waryk

Samantha Waryk (Class of 2022)

Hamburg, N.Y.

I came to Niagara as a freshman with a major in childhood and special education. With this degree, I will be eligible to teach children in grades 1-6, but this did not satisfy me and I wanted the opportunity to be able to teach more grade levels and Niagara gave that to me.

Coming back in my second semester, I added an extension to my major so that I would have the ability to be certified for birth through sixth grade, as well as adding a minor in literacy, making myself more marketable for when the time comes to look for a teaching job through the help of my advisor.

Niagara University and their faculty and staff help their students in so many ways and want nothing more than for them to feel comfortable and to be successful. Not only did I receive help with adding on an extension to my major and declaring a minor also I received help academically when I needed it through the Academic Success Center in Seton Hall. This is a center designed to help students in math and writing as well as offering free peer tutors. I used this resource many times throughout the semester and it made me feel more confident in my work and helped better my grades, resulting in my placement on the Dean's List for fall 2020. 

One thing that I love about Niagara University the IMPACT program that we have. The IMPACT program is a 20-hour in-school placement in a Niagara Falls or private classroom placement where you gain experience and get hands-on time with students. This requirement places us in the classroom during our first semester as a freshman and many other schools do not have this opportunity until student teaching. IMPACT gave me the clarity that being a teacher for young kids is what I wanted to do and it got me even more excited for the future and what lies ahead of me.

On top of having my IMPACT placement in one classroom in the Niagara Falls district, I was offered a work study job to be a junior teacher assistant at Hyde Park Elementary School. With my work study position being directly in an elementary school, I get more experience and have been placed in two other classrooms.

In my first year alone, I have had the pleasure of working in two kindergarten classrooms, a second grade classroom, and a fourth grade classroom – and I am so grateful for this because it will really set me apart from others in the future. This job has allowed me to form relationships with the students, faculty, and administrators in the building. I have been so impressed with the amount that Niagara gets involved with the academic and social community in the surrounding areas and how much effort the university puts into improving young students' education.

Samantha Waryk

Coming into Niagara, I was very nervous about the change from living at home to living in a residence hall and the adjustment that came with that, but that feeling soon went away when I got all my things in my room and got settled in. Thanks to NU’s Summer Orientation program, I already had a small group of friends as well as having my roommate as one of my best friends. Prior to everyone else returning to campus, Niagara hosts freshman orientation and this is where I met my group of people. The friendships that I have made here and the relationships I have formed will be ones that stick with me for life.

In addition to the orientation events, I found that some of the best ways to meet new people is to get involved on campus in clubs, sports and other functions. For example, I joined the field hockey team during my first semester at NU. I knew that I wanted to get involved on campus but I wasn't sure how until I attended the club fair. I have always loved field hockey (and played since the modified level) and joining the team allowed me to meet people who have some of the same interests as me. My coach is also one of the most caring and flexible people that I have met in my time here at Niagara. This team has given me some of my closest friends and I love it so much that I decided to run for an officer position for the spring and fall 2020 season.

Being involved with field hockey has also given me the chance to partake in various community service and volunteering events. In my fall 2019 semester, I volunteered at WNY Girls in Sports Day that was held in the Kiernan Center here on campus. Niagara and other organizations brought in young female athletes and volunteers got to spend the day playing sports and getting to know the girls involved.

This was such a great thing to see because female athletes can be overlooked and having a whole gym full of young girls who have a passion for something is great to see. In addition to volunteering at WNY Girls in Sports Day I also partook in the Camp Courage Crew Danceathon, which was also located on campus. This was such a fun and eye-opening event to attend and the profits went to Camp Good Days. Being able to be involved in events like these and give back to those around me is something that I look forward to and will continue to do in the future. This is also a value that Niagara prioritizes for all of its students which is just another reason why I love it here so much.

In my oncoming years at Niagara, I have such high hopes and goals set for myself. Next year as a sophomore, I will be taking a school-sponsored trip to Rome during spring break and I am very excited for that. Traveling is something that has always been very important to me and Niagara has so many different programs to do so. I also have plans and hope to study abroad in the fall of my junior year in a destination of my choosing.

My decision to come to Niagara is one that has changed my life for the better and I can't wait to see what the future years have in store for me. This university truly cares about its students and their success – and I could not imagine my college years to be spent anywhere else.