Hailing from Phoenix, but born in New Jersey, Damian Kosciolek’s life, goals and personality can be summed up in one phrase: well-rounded. Kosciolek is a true Renaissance man, with a variety of interests, skills and experiences that have shaped his life thus far.
Kosciolek’s life began in a multicultural neighborhood in northern New Jersey, where his Ukrainian grandparents had settled.
“It was a city that was pretty much built by immigrants, for immigrants, so they worked in a steel mill,” he said. “Everyone would learn each other’s culture, they would share their foods and stuff, so that was really awesome.”
Kosciolek loves the diversity of his grandparents’ neighborhood, but his favorite place he’s lived is his hometown.
“I love the Southwest,” Kosciolek said. “I like Phoenix because … it’s well-populated, but at the same time it’s so huge that if you need your space you can get it.”
Kosciolek has held a variety of jobs from a young age. His “first way of making money” was collecting scrap metal around his dad’s real estate development properties, which he would bring to a junkyard and exchange for cash. As he got older, Kosciolek said, “I love kids, too, I was always a camp counselor every summer.”
He also occasionally helped out at his dad’s construction business. “I learned a lot of practical husband material skills, like how to fix an A/C unit, how to lay down tile, ripping it out.”
Kosciolek’s handy skills extend to mechanics; on his breaks in Phoenix, he is working on repairing and refurbishing an old motorcycle.
In addition to his father’s ethnic roots, Kosciolek’s maternal grandparents were from Italy, so his mother often read books to him in Italian growing up. This knowledge has served Kosciolek well in his life, especially in his job as an Italian tutor on campus and during the fall 2019 Rome semester.
“I’d be traveling into Rome every spare minute, going to every church that was recommended, doing all these things, translating for everyone, even at the grocery store I’d just sit there and translate.”
For his enthusiasm and personal growth, Kosciolek was given the Rome award for his semester.
In addition to his Italian skills, Kosciolek has basic reading proficiency in Ukrainian and is relatively fluent in French, which helped him in his travels to France. Kosciolek emphasized his appreciation for cultural differences. Sometimes he even goes on online forums to learn and share with people around the world.
“I like to think that, ‘Oh you’re different from me and I understand that, I respect that and I want to grow with you based off of our differences.’”
In addition to his voracious appetite for learning languages, Kosciolek loves his liberal arts education. When asked about his favorite class at UD so far, Kosciolek was unable to choose just one.
“That’s like picking among children … I would never be able to decide because I’m interested in so much stuff,” Kosciolek said. Kosciolek did mention American Civilization II and Principles of American Politics, taught by Dr. Mark Petersen and Dr. Jonathan Culp respectively, as some of his favorites.
Aside from academics, Kosciolek is active in his extracurricular life as UD’s student body treasurer, a Men’s Society mentor, a psychology club officer and a contributing writer for The University News. Kosciolek mentioned the Men’s Society as especially impactful for him in his freshman year.
“In your twenties, you don’t have a lot of understanding of yourself, self-identity is kind of the thing we build-up,” Kosciolek explained. “[Men’s Society is] what helped me understand different aspects of the world, how to deal with them and what I should do as a Catholic guy.”
As a member of Student Government, Kosciolek said that he realized “I’m not just a hamster in a wheel, I can actually help people out. I can do things and people benefit from my presence, and that’s really cool.”
In his future, Kosciolek hopes to become a therapist, with multiple jobs on the side. “I’m really interested in real estate and the stock market, so I want to invest and diversify.”
One of Kosciolek’s long-term goals is “to write something along the lines of ‘Fahrenheit 451’ or ‘1984’ by the time I drop… I’m so interested in that kind of stuff, how culture ties into politics and how they shape each other.”
No doubt, Kosciolek’s insatiable intellectual curiosity and openness to experience have enriched his life, leading him to thrive in pursuing a well-rounded education at the University of Dallas.