Meet the Staff: Greg Gancarz

Photo by Greg Gancarz| Greg Gancarz and his mother Beth Gancarz, pictured during a hike in Starved Rock State Park in 2017.

Photo by Greg Gancarz| Greg Gancarz and his mother Beth Gancarz, pictured during a hike in Starved Rock State Park in 2017.

EvyJo Compton 

Reporter

Greg Gancarz, 22, is one of the current staff editors at the Prospectus. He is studying education and will transfer after graduating from Parkland this spring. 

“I’m currently working to earn my Associate Degree at Parkland. I’ve been taking classes here since the summer of 2016, my first semester. Since then, I’ve pretty much been enrolled in classes non-stop, taking advantage of both of the summer semesters since I’ve been enrolled here,” Gancarz said.

He says his involvement in Parkland’s activities has increased greatly since his first semester.

“My level of extra-curricular involvements definitely increased since I first started here,” He said. “I am currently a staff editor at the newspaper, the treasurer of the Scholar’s Club, and I’m continuing to try to graduate with honors from the college, which I should be on track to do this spring.”

He says that overall, the Prospectus has given him the best experience though.

“I’d say I’m most pleased to be involved with the newspaper,” He said. “It’s opened up so many experiences to me that I wouldn’t have been likely to find myself in otherwise. It allowed me to meet a lot of great new people, and it helped me come out of my shell after moving to a new place.”

The Prospectus is not his only workplace, however.

“[The Prospectus] got me going out, exploring different places in town, talking to different organizations and things like that,” he said. “Outside of Parkland, I also work at Jos. A Bank, bartend at Pia’s, the best bar in town, and try to find time to volunteer at the county history museum.”

Gancarz is not originally from the Champaign area and after graduating from his local high school, he took time to travel.

“I grew up in the Chicago suburbs about an hour west from the city and I wound up at Parkland somewhat by chance,” he said. “After high school, I didn’t originally plan to go to college. I spent some time traveling and seeing places like Colombia and Australia. It was an awakening experience. My experiences abroad definitely cast aside a few fantasies about the world that I had.”

Despite taking time out to travel, he also worked, and quickly learned what it meant to survive out in the world.

“Traveling was just a small fraction of how I spent my time between high school and college,”  he said. “I mostly worked. I think I learned what it means to have to work to live and eat a lot quicker than a lot of other people my age. So many of us just take out loans right after high school and head straight to college and learning what living in the real world is like is put on hold for another 4 years.”

Gancarz says that he is thankful for what the work experiences gave him.

“Looking back now, I’m pretty thankful that I had some time in between to learn how to survive on my own and decide whether or not that’s how I wanted to go through life, but from time to time, I still regret not getting an education sooner,” he said.

Choosing Parkland as his first college was by chance.

“As it happened, I had a friend from my hometown moving back home,” he said. “He had been going to school down here in Champaign at the university. He was leaving but he still had a lease for like another half of a year so he offered it for a good price.”

After hearing great things about Parkland, he decided to move to Champaign and settle into the college life.

“I guess it was just good timing because I was also looking for a change of scenery and everything just worked out,” he said. “I decided that this was the sign that it was time to give college a go.  I figured this would be as great a chance as any to get going and I’m very glad that I did.”

Gancarz plans to move forward towards a bachelor’s in education and hopes to change scenery once again.

“I plan on completing my degree here and then transferring to a four-year institution so that I can become an educator,” he said. “I love history, reading and writing, and travel. One day, I’d like to reside in Poland, New England, Hawaii, or the Caribbean. Who knows? Maybe all of them at some point. But at the very least, I’ll need to see them in person.”