The student body at California Lutheran University is well-known for its volunteerism and social activism. MBA student Cristina Markiewicz is a perfect example of CLU student commitment to making a difference.
Like many graduate students, Markiewicz has successfully balanced a career and college responsibilities, working at her family-run real estate agency while taking five classes per term. She is aggressively pursing her MBA as a foundation for her next professional opportunity: dental school. Markiewicz explained, “After starting college, I quickly realized I was fascinated with the physical sciences and began looking at careers in healthcare.” Markiewicz received a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2010, but decided that before she applied to dental school, she wanted to have a strong understanding of business administration.
But Markiewicz is also a volunteer. “I have been volunteering with the American Cancer Society for over three years,” she explained. “I have volunteered to be on the committee at the last two Ventura County American Cancer Society Evening of Hope Galas. Wanting to get more involved with the American Cancer Society, I participated in my first Relay For Life event in May 2011 at the Conejo Valley Relay For Life. The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a twenty-four hour event that gives everyone a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and fight back against the disease. This event was truly life changing and inspired me to start a Relay For Life at CLU.”
“I was the Event Chair for the first annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life at CLU. My committee of dedicated volunteers and I planned and organized the event. Our goal was to raise $20,000 for the fight against cancer. We went ‘Medieval on Cancer!!!’ by raising over $41,000 by the end of our Relay Event. Our Luminaria Ceremony was especially touching with the Luminaria bags spelling out ‘HOPE’ on our bleachers and other bags lining the track in support, in memory or in honor of those who have fought cancer.”
“At our Relay, over 100 people came to our event in memory of Thomas Fogel, son of Dr. Fogel, CLU math professor. Teams of people camped out and team members took turns walking around the track. At 10PM a group of Relayers did Zumba dancing to stay warm and stay energized. Each team was asked to have a representative on the track at all times and to raise a minimum of $100. While participants raised much-needed funds for the American Cancer Society, they also raised awareness of the importance of cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and patient support. Mt. Clef Stadium was the perfect setting for our Relay.”
This commitment to supporting the American Cancer Society is a personal one for Markiewicz. She says, “One day [I] will be a healthcare provider that will screen my patients for oral cancers. I take comfort in the fact that an organization like the American Cancer Society exists. I have seen how the American Cancer Society helps people. I’ve been to the local office in Ventura and I have seen women being fitted for wigs and getting information about the type of cancer they have. Last year in Ventura County, over 3,000 cancer patients, survivors and caregivers received direct services and support from the American Cancer Society.”
And Markiewicz is extending the challenge of joining the fight to all of us: “Next year I hope to see more of the CLU community taking steps to help the American Cancer Society save lives. With their help, we aren’t just fighting one type of cancer – we’re fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. Each person who shares the Relay experience can take pride in knowing that they are working to create a world where this disease will no longer threaten the lives of our loved ones or claim another year of anyone’s life.”
For more information on the CLU Relay for Life, please visit www.RelayForLife.org/CaliforniaLutheranUniversityCA.