Senior Ethan Podwojski grew up just 10 miles outside Galesburg’s city limits. But before he transferred to Knox from Carl Sandburg College, he said to consider himself a ‘Galesburgian’ would have been a tough sell.
“It really has brought me back into Galesburg as a community, as opposed to just living on the outlier of it and looking in,” Podwojski said.
Podwojski first attended Carl Sandburg College on the ‘Galesburg Promise’, a city program that gave discounts off Sandburg tuition for every year students spent in Galesburg public schools. Podwojski valued his time at Sandburg, and his classes were affordable: they cost about $50 each. But compared to Knox, Podwojksi did not observe the same kind of familial student community.
“When I left high school, a lot of people followed me from high school and I guess kind of the aroma in the air was just kind of highschool-part-two,” Podwosjki said.
One day his sophomore year, Podwojski took all the acceptance letters from other colleges he applied to and laid them out on the table. He compared their costs, scholarships and proximities.
Then, after listening to what his twin brother had to say — who attended Knox while Podwajski attended Sandburg Ð- Podwojski enrolled in the school he had often walked past and wondered about when he was younger.
Podwojski is an education major, studying to become a grade school history teacher. He considered his time at Sandburg more of a wandering period, while his education classes at Knox gave him a reason to become a part of and help the people in town.
“I really didn’t have a purpose for being in Galesburg, because I could just do my own thing out in the country,” Podwojski said.
Yet, while Podwosjki believes his studies at Knox have brought him closer to the Galesburg community, the education curriculum, which often examines social and economic demographics, has made him more aware of the Knox-Galesburg divide.
“There’s still that aspect of, you know, just across the railroad tracks,” Podwojski said.
Podwojski moved from Arizona to the Galesburg area when he was eight years old. For a long time, he felt there was nothing for him here, he wanted to escape this small Midwestern city.
But now, as graduation approaches, Podwojski is looking at two options. He could join family he has in Boise, Idaho, or he could remain to teach in the Galesburg area. But Podwoski doesn’t consider himself a big-city person and Galesburg, to him, is the right fit.
“It’s nice in Boise, it’s a lovely city, but [É] I see myself as a better fit here,” he said.
Podwojski’s time at Knox was not isolated from his decision.
“Knox isn’t some giant university, you know,” he said. “You see familiar faces walking around campus. So it kind of reflects the city a little bit.”