Julie Venezio, ’23, B.A. Psychology, credits career and academic advisors for her success as a student and as inspirations for her future career plans.
Many students at UW Tacoma find their advisors play a significant role in their academic careers. Academic advisors assist students by guiding them toward classes that fit their interests and degrees, but also help them find careers after graduation. For Julie Venezio, academic advisors played a major role in helping her to succeed at UW Tacoma. So much so that Venezio plans to become an advisor herself one day.
Venezio’s college career began in 2006. After graduating from high school in Illinois, she tried to attend community college, but had a rocky experience. “I was completely clueless about college,” she said. “From picking professors to finding my classes, where to park or just how to ask for help.” Venezio struggled and was not able to pass some of her classes so she ultimately decided to leave school.
Venezio worked a few retail positions while she thought about her next move. Once she was comfortable and found stability, she decided to give college another try at Joliet Junior College in Illinois. This time around she took her time and worked at her own pace which led her to complete her associate’s degree and graduate with honors. Venezio was then accepted into the University of Illinois Chicago with a full scholarship. Unfortunately, she had to decline the offer due to financial circumstances. “It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make,” she said.
In 2015, Venezio took a job at Costco to work in their distribution center in Morris, Illinois. Unlike her previous jobs in retail, this new job offered financial stability and the option to transfer states. In 2017, Venezio and her fiancé decided to take advantage of the opportunity and transferred to the Costco distribution center in Sumner, Wash., where a coworker introduced her to UW Tacoma. The coworker showed Venezio that through Costco’s Student Retention Program, she could focus on her studies without leaving her position. Encouraged by her coworker and inspired by the opportunity, Venezio decided to apply and attend UW Tacoma in 2020 to get her bachelor’s degree in psychology.
While at UW Tacoma, Venezio made sure to connect with her academic advisors and network with her classmates, which is something that she had not done before at her other colleges. During a conversation with an academic advisor, Karin Dalesky, Venezio was encouraged to visit Career Development & Education. There, she took a competency test to discover her strengths and had a meeting with Dawn Williams, assistant director of the program, to go over her test results. Williams encouraged Venezio to apply for a student position at the career center, where she now holds a position as a career prep consultant. “I wanted to know what to do with my career and the career center helped me,” she said. “I just kept making appointments.”
Working as a career prep consultant, Venezio has helped many students and alumni with their resumes, cover letters, and job searches. It also has motivated her to apply for internships. As a result, she received a Seed internship through UW Tacoma and will be working as a marketing and provider outreach coordinator with Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital this summer.
Venezio’s active involvement on campus and dedication to helping others has led to her selection as one of this year’s Husky 100., an honor that recognizes 100 students across all three UW campuses who are making the most of their university experience. She credits her nomination as a reflection of the staff and faculty at UW Tacoma, but specifically her career coach Michael Maratas and her professors Tanya Velasquez and Jenny Xiao. “Mike Maratas, my career coach, has played a significant role in my personal and professional growth,” said Venezio. “He has been instrumental in helping me navigate my college journey and discover my career path. Additionally, I would like to express my appreciation to two of my professors, Tanya Velasquez and Dr. Jenny Xiao, who have been incredibly supportive during my senior year. They have provided me with opportunities to apply what I'm learning in their classes to my role as a career prep consultant, and I'm grateful for their guidance and encouragement.”
Because of the impact of the experiences Venezio has had at UW Tacoma, she knows that she wants to pay it forward and continue working in higher education and student affairs after graduation. She plans to attend graduate school while continuing to work or volunteer at UW Tacoma and is also open to working at other local colleges. “I want to work anywhere that will have me working with students,” she said. “We have a saying here at UW Tacoma: Once you come here you never leave.”
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