After winning third place in a national philosophy competition, Associate Dean (Student Experience) Krystyna Koczanski seemed destined to become an expert on the finer points of metaphysics or Derridean deconstruction. But the trials and tribulations of emigration from Poland to Canada put her on a different path. The prohibitive linguistic barrier in philosophy – understanding Husserl in your native language is hard enough, it’s near impossible in your second – wasn’t present in the sciences. This circumstance provided Krystyna with the opportunity to take the logical rigor she had acquired through philosophical study and use it in a field where study yielded tangible knowledge – the applied sciences. Ultimately, she completed a graduate degree at the University of Manitoba, mastering elements of analytical, environmental and synthetic chemistry. Even though she’s not the philosopher she one day thought she might be, Krystyna still finds time to revisit her old subject matter – she recently read The Open Society and its Enemies by Karl Popper.
The wildly twisting path that Krystyna’s conception of her future followed through the years, in turn, provides valuable context for much of her current work: guiding students in the Faculty of Science. People’s goals, circumstances, and opportunities change over time, so, she believes students shouldn’t limit their pursuits to a preconceived notion of what success looks like. When Krystyna meets with students, she encourages them to share their dreams, successes, and challenges and uses this to help them find an appropriate path forward. In practice, such aid includes adjusting curriculum, advising students on class selection, handling accommodations for students with accessibly issues, and connecting students with health or crisis prevention services. She loves doing all those things because she understands how helpful it would have been to have someone like that assisting her all those years ago when her circumstances changed, and she had to work towards doing something different and new.
– Jeri Dube