If you plug “involved college student” into a search engine, you might find a biography of Aryana Kubiak ’20.
In addition to holding three on-campus jobs, she’s actively involved in nine student groups.
“I’m either busy or I’m bored,” she says with a laugh. “There are over 130 clubs on campus, and dozens of events each week. Everyone is able to find their place on campus; there’s always something to do here.”
That includes a deep dive into the academic areas that inspire her. When Kubiak began at Clark, she intended to pursue a medical career and declared a biology major. But her involvement in campus life, and in the Worcester community, prompted a change of plan. “I realized I enjoy connecting with people on a more personal level,” she says, so she added psychology as a second major and shifted her focus to a career in higher education and student affairs.
She has served as a research assistant in psychology Professor Alena Esposito’s Cognition Lab, which studies cognitive development of students living in dual-language homes. “I’m encouraged to think abstractly and outside of the box,” she says. “I also can work hands-on in the lab with my teaching assistants and professors to ensure that I understand the material, rather than just memorize it.”
Her two majors complement her desire for a career supporting underrepresented and misrepresented students: students of color, LGBTQ students, ESL learners, and those with cognitive or physical disabilities. The two disciplines let her “see the connection between the biological and the behavioral.”
Kubiak’s interest in helping the underrepresented has led to her involvement as stage manager and actor in “Beneath the Surface,” a performance event featuring monologues and dialogues submitted by Clark students about their experiences with “invisible diseases” like anxiety, depression, and chronic illness. The event gives students a better understanding of what their classmates, like her, might be dealing with on a daily basis, she says.
“Beneath the Surface” wasn’t the only event Kubiak helped plan last spring. She was co-coordinator, with Emma Fonner ’20, of Clark’s 116th Spree Day, working closely with Allie Shilling, director of campus life, to ensure the day would go off without a hitch.
Kubiak has been the recipient of much support on the Clark campus, notably from her advisers — Professor Susan Foster in biology and Professor Johanna Vollhardt in psychology — who have provided valuable insight into the types of classes that work best with her learning style. “They are very attentive to my boundaries and very supportive of my goals,” she says.
Kubiak’s involvement in Clark’s clubs and organizations is restricted only by the fact there are 24 hours in a day (if there were more, she’d fill them). A brief summary of her participation would include her role as vice president of Clark Concert Band, executive board member of the Outing Club, and treasurer for the Educational Studies Program, which organizes the annual Splash event that offers hundreds of workshops to middle school children. Her other activities range from being a mentor with Clark’s Emerging Leaders Institute to working for Youth Outreach Worcester, through which Clark students lead local high school students in difficult conversations about race, gender, immigration, and LGBTQ issues.
This year, Kubiak is a resident adviser in the Johnson Sanford Center, where she has created a comfortable and respectful environment for her fellow Clarkies — and helps other students find their own places in the campus community.