Story by Elizabeth Schoof, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy Elizabeth Schoof
Say hello to Klarie Ojenus! She’s a junior, a dog lover, and one of the most active students at Aquinas. You’ve probably seen Klarie pass by at some point or another on campus, but if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her officially, feel free to introduce yourself. She loves meeting new people!
Klarie is currently studying elementary education. Although she experimented with other majors, such as psychology, every area of study has brought her back to one career choice—being a teacher. Growing up she had the chance to watch her mother, an educator herself, build connections with students. That, paired with her own personal experiences with teachers, made it clear to Klarie that education was the right field for her.
“I’ve had a lot of great teachers in my life. Even if they were tough in the classroom, they worked hard to build good relationships with their students. I want to build a bond with kids like the ones my teachers built with me,” she explained.
One look at Klarie’s list of extracurriculars makes it clear that she has already begun to build bonds with a wide variety of people. She is President of Education Club, Vice President of Habitat for Humanity, an Orientation Leader, a volunteer for CYBIAC, and a member of the Aquinas College Cheerleading Team. She is also a mentor for the Excel Program (which is a part of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion,) and is an assistant in Campus Ministry.
Although her extracurriculars keep her busy, Klarie loves to attend campus events in her free time. She lit up as she began to describe her favorite event on campus—Praise and Worship.
“Abandon Praise and Worship at AQ is absolutely amazing. After a super busy day, it is really great to be able to give myself up to God and thank him. Being at Bukowski is an added benefit. There is nowhere on campus that I feel closer to God than in the chapel. I love going to a college where I can celebrate my faith.”
While she loves being able to express her faith, Klarie chose Aquinas because she fell in love with the campus community. If her extracurriculars were not enough proof of that, then the smile she has when she walks around campus definitely should be.
“Every time I round the corner, I’m greeted with a smile. Even on the days that I’m really struggling, things are better because people are friendly. It’s crazy how many people know one another. It’s really helped build a positive community on campus. I’m thankful to be a part of it.”
Reflecting on the communities that she has had the opportunities to be a part of, Klarie recounted stories of her time living in the Faith House LLC on campus, as well as her time in New Orleans on a service learning trip.
“The girls in Faith House have inspired me to be a better person, and NOLA gave me a new family. Both experiences helped me to grow in my faith more than anything else. They found space in my heart and allowed me to really make a difference in the lives of those around me. It’s the people that have made Aquinas memorable for me. The memories are great, but it’s the people who have gotten me where I am today.”
If you see Klarie around campus, don’t be afraid to stop and say hello! I can guarantee that after a fifteen-minute conversation with her, you’ll have made a new friend.