Kate Budziak had a plan coming into college. She would major in chemistry, build on her skills in STEM and, by doing so, set herself up for a solid career when she graduated.
“For some reason, I always believed that STEM was the only field that could guarantee a good-paying job after graduation,” Budziak said. “My first two years of college, I was majoring in chemistry, but I always had an interest in women’s studies and history. I treated them more like hobbies at the time. One day I realized, these subject areas are not my hobbies. Learning about history and gender are my passions!”
Budziak changed her majors to history and women’s and gender studies, and discovered a myriad of new career options and classes.
“I love my majors because they give me the opportunity to be flexible,” she said. “Most of the classes I pick are completely up to my interests. If I suddenly got interested in ancient China, I would be able to take a class about that without needing to sacrifice my primary area of studies.”
Inspiring young minds
Since changing majors, Budziak (’22 history, women’s and gender studies) has switched her focus from STEM fields to field trips. Her career goal is to introduce young students to a new kind of museum education.
“I plan to make a difference by completely rewiring how museum education works,” she said. “As of now, programs in museums are extremely outdated. They are still giving worksheets to kids on field trips! I plan to incorporate technology into museum education and make museum field trips more like an adventure, rather than a study session.”
This summer, Budziak interned with the State Historical Museum of Iowa education team, assisting with educational programming, developing educational materials, creating digital programs and helping with in-person summer programs. After graduation, she wants to pursue a master’s degree in either museum studies or historical research and find a job in museum education.
“A little bit of everything”
One reason Budziak loves Iowa State is because “it has a little bit of everything.” It’s easy to hear students speak about topics they are passionate about or to find different campus activities and events to attend, she said.
“We have a huge variety of people that come from a ton of different backgrounds,” she said. “You just have to know where to look.”
Even with all the student activities already available, Budziak discovered there was plenty of room to start something new. She recently helped launch Socialize with Pride, an Iowa State student organization and social club for the LGBTQIA+ community.
“When I realized that Iowa State did not have a club that I felt comfortable with, I made my own,” she said. “I would have never even thought about that because starting a club seems so intimidating. With the right people helping me, it was actually pretty easy and also gave me another reason to love my identities and people in the community just like me.”
From changing majors to finding a new career to starting a new student organization, Budziak has learned adventures don’t always turn out as planned. Sometimes, they turn out even better.