Kayla Kaczorowski estimates she went on 15 college tours before deciding to attend Viterbo University.
“I just felt at home,” she said.
Kaczorowski, a sophomore, is confident she made the right decision and is now putting a similarly exhaustive amount of study into her neuroscience major and minors in criminal justice and psychology. She would like to eventually become a university professor, but first wants to work as a mental health or substance abuse counselor.
Kaczorowski, who’s from Fountain City, was attracted to Viterbo by the opportunity to integrate diverse fields of study to create a program that fits her personal outlook. The chance to work one-on-one with professors, thanks to Viterbo’s small class sizes, was also a big factor in her decision to come to Viterbo.
“We have a really good student to teacher ratio at Viterbo, which means it’s easy to develop personal relationships with your professors and talk to them outside of class,” she said.
Kaczorowski is considering continuing her education at Viterbo after she gets her undergraduate degree through the 4+2 bachelor’s to master’s program available with her psychology minor.
The bachelor’s to master’s program would allow Kaczorowski to start upper level classes earlier, she said, and she likes the idea of being able to move seamlessly from a bachelor’s to a master’s.
“I probably would want to do a master’s right away as most counselors have at least a master’s, if not a doctorate,” she said.
Kaczorowski would study for a master’s in mental health counseling, but she also has the option to take a substance abuse counseling minor, which would allow her to graduate with a Wisconsin state Substance Abuse Counselor certification.
Last summer, Kaczorowski interned at the Winona County treatment court and gained experience that helped solidify her post-graduation plans. The treatment court puts individuals into a program to overcome addiction and secure steady employment.
Kaczorowski said she worked with people in the program to help them with things like getting a driver’s license, a GED, and employment.
“We really were just helping people become a part of the community again, changing their mindset, which was really rewarding for me,” she said.
Kaczorowski worked with clients on a daily basis as they worked their way through the different stages of the program. When she returned to Viterbo, she unpacked the experience with her professors, looking at ways to link it to her studies and future plans.
“The whole experience showed me that people can be rehabilitated, positive change can happen,” she said.
Outside the classroom, Kaczorowski has taken full advantage of some of the experiences available to Viterbo students, including singing in a choir and working as the student manager of the women’s volleyball team. She’s also a member of the Tri-Beta Biological Honor Society and DNA Club.
Kaczorowski received a scholarship for her volleyball work, in addition to a merit scholarship, which she said helped cover a significant portion of the cost of attending Viterbo.
“Viterbo does a really good job of trying to get students involved in things outside of class,” she said. “I was in choir my freshman year and that was really helpful in getting me involved because we went caroling, we had a Christmas concert, and performed at other shows.”
The many opportunities she’s seized, inside and outside the classroom, have helped Kaczorowski develop her leadership skills.
“I feel like Viterbo definitely gave me the opportunity to be more of a leader and to help others become leaders as well,” she said. “It’s also really cool to see how different everyone is, yet we’re all here together trying to help each other.”
The best thing about Viterbo, is the ability to establish personal connections, whether that’s with other students, professors, or tutors, Kaczorowski said.
“There are great professors, you get free tutoring, and you get the opportunity to make great relationships and when you’re done, the people you worked with your freshman year are going to remember you and are going to be willing to help you in the future,” she said. “Everyone at Viterbo is focused on your future.”