Stepping out of your comfort zone isn't easy but can have tremendous rewards. Just ask Melissa Szawlewicz, OLMA's Director of Guidance. After 15 years as a stay-at-home-mom to her three children, Mrs. Szawlewicz returned to both school and the workforce. "I found it difficult to be a returning mom, especially with all the new technology," said Mrs. Szawlewicz. "I had a lot of insecurities to overcome. Fortunately, landing a job at OLMA made all the difference in the world. It's an atmosphere of women helping women and incredibly supportive."
Five years later, Mrs. Szawlewicz should be proud of her accomplishments. "When I arrived, there weren't many programs in place," she said. "I had a lot of ideas and things I wanted to do, and Mrs. Coyle helped me bring them to life."
Mrs. Szawlewicz now runs a department that helps the young women of OLMA navigate the college admissions process beginning in freshman year. She initiated the school's very first College Tour during her first summer with OLMA, and it was a huge success. Other guidance programming includes individual counseling and organizing the Career Fair, Mock Interview Day, the Junior Job Shadow Program, Instant Decision Day, and more. Mrs. Szawlewicz also serves as an adviser to the National Honor Society and Sister Speak programs.
While her plate is full, Mrs. Szawlewicz loves her job. She enjoys seeing the girls go on to college and return for visits excited to fill her in on their success. She also treasures the many friendships she has made since joining OLMA.
Mrs. Szawlewicz began her college career at a community college before transferring to William Paterson University, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree as a Teacher of the Handicapped. She later earned a Master's degree in Counseling in an Educational Setting from Rowan University.
As she looks ahead to the rest of this year, Mrs. Szawlewicz can't wait to return to some form of normalcy. She's also curious to see how college admissions will play out this spring.
Now, for a few little-known facts. Mrs. Szawlewicz played on the boys' soccer team in middle school (because there was no girls' team), has a French Bulldog that never leaves her side when home, and hired a then-unknown Adam Sandler to perform at her college's comedy show. She says she has a photo to prove it!
Thanks for all you do, Mrs. Szawlewicz.
- college guidance
- teacher feature