This week, we caught up with 2003 valedictorian Kristin Konieczny (pictured left with brother, Andrew, class of 2010).
Hi Kristin! You graduated from Mentor in 2003. When did you start at Mentor and what did you know about the school before your first day?
I started at Mentor College in grade 7. I knew that Mentor had many differences in comparison to my previous school and I anticipated the changes in many ways. Mentor was a private school, there was a specific dress code, and even to my Grade 7 self, I knew that I would be challenged academically – and I desired that. The reason why I even asked my parents to consider switching my school was because I wanted to be challenged academically. This might have been one of the reasons why I took to the school and the teachers so much.
What are the things you remember the most about your time at our school?
I remember a few wonderful things:
I remember my grade 7 class with Mr. Fabrizi: 13 students, many laughs: I remember being challenged in writing, grammar and math, and above all, I remember making new friends who continued into high school at Mentor with me.
I also remember my high school years being marked by my participation on the girls’ rugby team. This was a my greatest highlight. The coaches were truly coaches for me – not only as I developed as an athlete, but they coached me as I matured as a young woman – they encouraged me, became significant role models in my life, and were my greatest fan club. Their role in my life was significant and I continue to be thankful for how they choose to be part of my life.
10 years ago you were the valedictorian of the grad class! What do remember most about the actual Commencement night?
To be honest, I remember an embarrassing moment! I was sitting with my parents, the auditorium was hot, we were all crammed in there since two graduating classes and their families were attending the double cohort commencement. The MC announced my name to do the valedictory address. I impatiently stood up and started moving to the podium, only to have the introduction drag on and that made my standing up a little awkward for myself and probably a little annoying for the people I was blocking! Apart from that, I remember many congratulations, and a sense that I needed to go home and study for my biology exam!
Do you feel that you had an advantage over your Queen’s classmates in any way? Did you feel that you were “behind” in any way?
If anything, I felt as if I was a little behind my classmates at Queen’s because my expectations of university may have been off from the onset. I expected that university would compare to my positive experience at Mentor. I expected that I would thrive, that I would have similar support from my professors and numerous, manageable opportunities to volunteer, and that the rugby team would be my joy, but it didn’t turn out that way. I felt as though I needed to choose one area to put all of my energy into and this was really tough for me since the image I had of myself was a “jack of all trades” kind of person. Overall, it was a good and necessary transition but I don’t think any school could have prepared me for this transition.
Tell us what Kristin Konieczny was doing in 2008, what she is doing in 2013 and what she thinks she will be doing in 2018.
In 2008 I had just graduated with two degrees from Queen’s University, one in Physical and Health Education, and the other a degree in Health Studies. I had set my sights on working for a movement called Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO); a movement that worked with young people in a university chaplaincy setting. I had always been interested in working with young people in a meaningful way, and since being involved with CCO in the last year of my university career, I was so impressed with the organization and the quality of their work, and desired to give it a shot. I have been working for CCO ever since – and have just completed 5 years of service. I’m currently living and working in Ottawa at the Campus Leader at Carleton University. In 2018, I hope to be married with children, managing a home, and loving life and the people that come into it!