Kirkwood Community College student Traci Zieser has found the perfect balance
With her busy home life, full academic load and throng of extracurricular activities, she has managed to excel not only in the classroom, but also in the community.
“I keep a very organized planner,” Zieser said. “The activities and volunteer work I am involved in are important to me and my family so I get a lot of leeway when it comes to these activities. Also, an advantage of going to Kirkwood is that I can schedule my classes around our life.”
This successful balancing act has earned Zieser a spot on the All-Iowa Academic Team for 2008. She joins a league of impressive students who have outstanding academic skills as well as dedication to their community.
Phi Theta Kappa, USA TODAY, and the American Association of Community Colleges sponsor the All-USA Academic Team program annually. To be eligible, students must have a minimum of a 3.25 cumulative GPA and be eligible to graduate with an associate degree. Zieser was named as one of Kirkwood’s four representatives to be submitted to the national competition.
Zieser barely made the deadline for application. She only had two weeks to submit her application. “I received an e-mail about the scholarship opportunity in an e-mail account that I rarely use. When I opened the message I only had about two weeks to pull everything together,” Zieser said.
Even though Zieser had to complete the application in a short time, she had spent years accumulating the honors and volunteer hours it takes to actually qualify.
Zieser’s resume is packed with selflessness. She is heavily involved in Alpha Eta Rho, Students in Free Enterprise and is a student advocate for once presidential hopeful John Edwards. Along with her busy family life, which includes two children and in-home relatives, Zieser has a lot on her plate.
Outside of Kirkwood Zieser volunteered as a precinct captain for Edwards, works with Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore program and in the warmer months, cleans up city parks on her own time.
All of these activities don’t slow Zieser down in the classroom. With a GPA of over 3.6, Zieser demonstrates that students can be involved around campus and the community and still be successful in the classroom.
Zieser had finished her clinical rotation in practical nursing at Hawkeye Community College when she decided that a career in health care was not the right path for her. After moving to Cedar Rapids, she came to Kirkwood and enrolled in the Human Services program, but decided against that too. She applied her credits towards an AA degree and entered the workforce.
Later, Zieser had an idea to open her own business. After meeting with a business adviser who told her she needed to write a business plan, Zieser decided she needed to go back to school.
“I investigated what all this would entail and quickly came to the conclusion that I not only needed to learn how to write a plan but I also needed to know how to run the business. I enrolled in the Management Development program this fall and discovered that Kirkwood is now offering the Entrepreneurial Certificate which includes courses in marketing and advertising, bookkeeping and how to write a business plan,” Zieser said.
Zieser included many reasons why Kirkwood was the right college for her. Zieser commends Kirkwood on the manageable class sizes, the easily accessible campuses, the diligent faculty and staff, the amount of extracurricular activities and the friendly and diverse students. But her favorite part about Kirkwood?
“You can start here and go anywhere!” Zieser said.
As for her honor as a member of the All-Iowa Academic team, Zieser is taking it in stride and focusing on the bigger picture.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for my academic achievement but it also reaffirms to me that I am on the right path and with hard work, my goals are attainable,” Zieser said.
Zieser plans to graduate from Kirkwood in August. After that, she would like to transfer to Coe College and earn a degree in political science.
“As for the skills I learn, I will apply them directly to owning and operating my own retail store,” Zieser said.