Student seeks diverse environment, companions at SU
The first year of college can be an eye-opening experience for many freshmen. When April Knotek declined the opportunity to attend the Rhode Island School of Design, often considered the foremost fine arts college in the United States, she chose to enroll in the School of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University instead.
Now she is designing wallpaper, greeting cards and clothing patterns.
‘I decided to attend Syracuse so that I could keep my options open,’ said the undeclared freshmen in the College of Arts and Sciences, who has decided to study surface pattern design.
Knotek came from a suburb 20 minutes from downtown Cleveland, where the majority of the population was Italian.
‘I wanted diversity and a change (at school),’ Knotek said. ‘I was a little intimidated at first. I don’t come from an incredibly well-off family, and I had heard Syracuse was a school where many wealthy upstate families sent their kids.’
Surprisingly, Knotek found the transition to college easy. She attributes this to her current home on the fourth floor of Flint Residence Hall.
‘My RA told us our floor is different from every other floor on campus because we are all so close,’ Knotek said. For example, she referenced the first few weeks when freshmen went out on weekends with their entire floor. Knotek explained, ‘That never stopped. We still go out as an entire floor.’
Moira Connolly, a floormate of Knotek and a freshman in VPA, described Knotek as someone with a great sense of humor.
‘When she laughs, you laugh,’ Connolly said. ‘She keeps things interesting on our floor.’
Knotek said she is learning outside of her classes as well, and didn’t have to look very far for someone unlike her Cleveland compatriots. Her best friend at Syracuse, Beth Marchant, is a Lockerbie Scholar and an undecided freshman in The College of Arts and Sciences. Marchant describes Knotek’s personality as her greatest quality.
‘April’s lots of fun and a good laugh,’ Marchant said.
Knotek was not the only one learning and growing from the diverse student body; she also helped Marchant become adjusted to college life in the U.S.
‘She explained stuff I didn’t understand and kept me right,’ Marchant said. ‘April taught me all about American culture.’ Marchant will be returning to Scotland after the semester, and Knotek hopes to visit her over the summer.
Knotek’s experience at SU has proven that college is just as much about growing socially as it is academically. She attributes her open-mindedness to the example of diversity set by her parents; her father is half Slovenian and half Croatian, and her mother is pure Italian.
‘My mom always told me to be accepting of other people,’ said Knotek, ‘I have grown to love the variety of people here on campus.’
This tolerant mindset has not only brought about her smooth transition to college, but also an optimistic attitude. ‘Nothing really bothers me. I try to stay focused on the positive,’ Knotek said.
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