Grand Valley State University student, Stephen Szymanski, is one of a few hosts of the WCKA “Whale Radio” show and has been for about a year now.
What most people do not know is that Stephen chose to go to GVSU because of its work for the Make-A-Wish foundation and the radio show slot is just a bonus.
It is unfortunate that when people become majorly involved with a charity it is because their life had been touched by someone relating to that charity. For Stephen, this helped him chose his career and what he believes is his purpose in life.
While going through junior high and high school in Allen Park, Michigan, Stephen met a boy with cystic fibrosis named Blake. Blake, unfortunately, passed away while he was a freshman, which was while Stephen was a sophomore.
This occurrence was a major turning point in Stephen’s life. This is also the root as to why he appointed a large amount of his time towards helping kids with terminal illnesses, which is exactly what the Make-A-Wish Foundation is out to do.
If I’m able to put smiles on the kiddos faces while they’re going through such a trying experience in their life, then that’s all that matters.”Stephen Szymanski
When looking for colleges to apply for, most high school students look at the colleges who have a focus on specific fields, like psychology or botany, football or basketball. For Stephen, it was the fact that GVSU has a student organization devoted to the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s cause called The Stars for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The student-led organization focuses on three main principles: to fundraise money to aid in granting wishes to terminally ill children, to volunteer and be active in the community, and lastly, to have fun while taking part in doing good.
Since high school, Stephen has volunteered for the West Michigan chapter of the foundation. And now, he helps coordinate where the events The Stars go to spread awareness and raise money.
Stephen has been working as an events and volunteer work coordinator since the fall of 2018. One event included Walks For Wishes, where The Stars were able to both exceed their donation goal as well as have a great community outreach turnout.
“Being able to be a part of Stars for Make-A-Wish and raise money for the organization has helped me realize how precious life is and these kiddos really don’t have much time left.”Stephen Szymanski
During high school, Stephen was on a tennis team with Blake. But it was not long before Blake’s cystic fibrosis made it so he was not able to play tennis anymore.
“Blake was very very driven. That kid was so f**king determined and he did not let him having cystic fibrosis stop him from doing what he wanted to do for the longest time,” Stephen added. Blake’s determination was an inspiration to Stephen and pointed him towards what he now wants to do for his life career.
Stephen decided to major in advertising and public relations with his emphasis on public relations (PR). He would like to work PR for the Make-A-Wish Foundation itself once he has graduated.
To continuously spread awareness of the Make-A-Wish Foundation holistic work is Stephen’s dream job. And PR departments oversee the spread of information from organizations to its public, a job that exists in nearly every business. In total, Stephen curated the ideal plan to follow his dream.
So while Stephen Szymanski’s voice may just be one of few that students hear on GVSU’s WCKA “The Whale Student Radio” show, he is also can be found where The Stars congregate.