Kyle Malinowski

Business Management and Administration

During my time on the Hilltop, I went from being a lost, apathetic freshman, to serving as student body president and one of Bradley’s biggest champions. How did it happen? Well it wasn’t easy, but it sure was fun.

GO BRADLEY

When I was a senior at Parkway South High School, I knew two things: I wanted to go to college, and I didn’t want to go to Bradley. I had dreams of going to Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and studying their Foreign Service program. However, when it came to decision time, my parents gave me a financial ultimatum: it was either go to Bradley and come out with very little no debt from my undergraduate career, or go to Georgetown and graduate from this coveted program and debt to last me a lifetime. Being a financial responsible individual, I chose Bradley. I figured I would just grin and bear it - and then go to a great graduate school after Bradley.
                                
My freshman year, I entered Bradley with one mission: to be an apathetic, detached, stereotypical college student. I was doing a very good job at it for the first couple weeks…until my assistant residence advisor (ARA) informed my floor of freshmen guys they were serving free pizza downstairs in the cafeteria. As a student on a fixed income (AKA no income), free is always the best price! But that’s where they get you; nobody gives away free pizza without wanting something from you in return. I went on down to the cafeteria to find it packed. Before allowing us to get the “free” pizza, the administrators of the meeting – my ARA included – began telling us about an organization they have in the residence halls called Hall Council. Hall Council is the social planning organization for each residence, with the goal of unifying the residence through building-wide social programs. Mid-bite of my slice of pepperoni pizza, my ARA nominated me for treasurer of this organization. Feeling obligated, I accepted with the full intent of losing and not having to hold the position; surprisingly, I won! After attending a retreat for Hall Council, I came back energized and interested in doing something with our group.

Over the spring semester, I helped my council put together a residence hall Olympic Games. These games helped to raise our attendance from 14 students during the first meeting in January, to over 250 members by the closing ceremonies in April. These games would go on to secure my Hall Council with the coveted Program of the Year Award through the Association of Residence Halls, and land me the recognition of Best Executive Board Member of the Year. If it weren’t for going to get pizza that fateful September night, and accepting my nomination – I never would have been put into the position to run for student body president just three short semesters later. So show up, eat the pizza, and never pass up an opportunity – you never know where it might take you!

GO GREEK?

Spring of my freshman year, I was invited to help start a chapter of a fraternity at Bradley. Earlier that fall, I had made a very conscious decision not to participate in Greek Recruitment. So when I was asked by my flabbergasted friends about why I accepted my bid to help start a new one – I simply replied “Because it feels right.” If you ever have a situation where your entire core is telling you that it feels right to do, than I suggest you do it. With 29 other students, we laid the foundation for what is today one of the strongest chapters on campus. It was an exciting time: electing officers, laying down the first budget, outlining traditions, and organizing the first families. It truly was an amazing experience. In January of my freshman year, just a short couple months after the fraternity was colonized, I was elected as the External Vice President. This position included the weighty philanthropy planning responsibility. Having never planned philanthropy before, I was lost. And this is where the true heart of the story comes in. In the fall of my sophomore year, my roommate and I designed a two-day philanthropy experience. We created the first Crescent Girl pageant which would go on to win my fraternity the recognition of Student Organization Program of the Year by Bradley University. What I didn’t mention to you was that during this time the fraternity had been splintered greatly, and for the first time since our founding we were concerned that our brotherhood would fail. If it weren’t for the success of these two events, and their ability to involve everyone, bring them together, focus them on one goal, and help them to achieve it – we may not be in existence today. It may have been an exhaustive experience for me, but for my fraternity it was worth it to help them to grow and to stay connected.

EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING

At the end of my freshman year I was feeling pretty confident about my role in Hall Council, having just won best executive board member of the year. The outgoing president of the hall council’s parent organization, the Association of Residence Halls (ARH), nominated me to run for it’s vice presidency. Again agreeing to run in order not to let her down, I figured I had a pretty good chance. Unfortunately, I lost my bid for the presidency. A couple weeks later, the newly re-elected student body president Jordan Ticaric approached me about being her Secretary of Internal Affairs for the Student Senate. After serving in Student Senate, I ran for Student Body President and won. I believe if I had not lost that election my freshman year, I would never have had the opportunity to win the presidency. So when life gives you lemons – take them and barter for something better. I did that, and it has made all the difference

OH, THE PLACES YOU WILL GO

Last fall, universities and colleges across the state were facing a problem. The State of Illinois distributes millions of dollars in aid to students with need. Due to massive budget deficits and Illinois’ pending budget crisis, the grants had been eliminated for the spring semester. The money they eliminated was money already promised to students across the state. When I first alerted of this, honestly, I didn’t pay too much attention. I’m from Missouri, so I don’t even qualify for these grants. It wasn’t till one of my fraternity brothers told me he won’t be able to return to Bradley unless he got the financial assistance of the grant that it hit home. I went to the student body executive board and asked them to help formulate an initiative to do something. We decided on what we thought would be the easiest but most effective task – to get every student body president from across the state to sign a proclamation stating we weren’t too happy with Illinois’ decision, and politely asking them to reverse it. Our efforts led to a meeting with the Governor, who came to Bradley University and asked me to speak at a rally. Standing in front of four thousand students, from across the state, was an unbelievably cool experience. It taught me a lot about what a person can do when they are passionate about a cause. Being student body president was a great experience (I got to meet a lot of people, including Larry King and Vice President Joe Biden), but the experience of working with students statewide was truly the most rewarding.

I CALL THIS PLACE HOME

So all these experiences have truly made my Bradley experience unique and rewarding. But honestly, they aren’t why I love Bradley. “The greatest lesson I have learned as a student leader is this: you may have enjoyed some wonderful adventures, but if you haven’t made friends along the way, you’ve failed. That’s why I keep coming back to the Hilltop. That’s why I call this place home.”