Name: Samantha Ziemba
Graduation year & Degree: 2016, Bachelor’s of Arts
Major: Art Education
Minor(s): Art History
Marywood Clubs/Activities: Where Creativity Works blog, taught Art lessons through the Marywood University Art Department
Current Occupation: Intermediate Art teacher
How long at current job: 2 years
What was your favorite part about studying art at Marywood?
My favorite part about studying art at Marywood was the constant opportunity for creativity. The Insalaco Center for Studio Arts building was beautiful and everywhere you went there was a new idea or project going on. When I started my last year at Marywood I was strictly in education courses and the energy of the art department was something I really missed.
“I try my best to teach my students that being unique is more important than being “good” and that you need to support yourself and those around you, and feel proud of the things you create.”—Sam Ziemba
How did your art education at Marywood help your career?
My education at Marywood helped me build my confidence in my content area, taught me about the type of educator I wanted to be and provided me with so many opportunities to grow and jump into the world with so much ambition.
What attracted you to this career path?
Growing up I was always the oldest sibling, the oldest cousin and the one who was looked at as having to be responsible. Because of that I spent a ton of time babysitting, helping my two younger sisters through life and teaching both dance and art. I always felt a pull to be the one people came to and the one who had the answers. This mixed with my love for art (that began when I received my first set of paints at age 2) and an incredible high school art teacher, I landed on Art Education as my career path.
Did your career path match your vision of a career path? What’s different?
Growing up and going through my own personal schooling, I never saw myself as anything in particular. I took all of the online quizzes that were supposed to match you with a career, I visited guidance and career counselors in hopes they would lead me in the right direction. I had always loved art and grew up wanting to be a dance teacher at my local studio; but my love for the arts and my desire to teach somehow never clicked in my mind. Not until my senior year of high school. I had an incredible teacher who saw a spark in me, took me under his wing and made it his personal mission to help me put together my portfolio for my acceptance into Marywood’s (now in abeyance) Art Education program. To say my idea of a career path was nothing like what it ended up being is an understatement. I always had the words “doctor” or “lawyer” run through my head and knew neither of those things would make me happy and wondered if it was even possible to land on something that you were passionate about.
What is your favorite thing about your current job?
Honestly, my favorite thing about my current job is when I see one of my students in the hallway and they say “Hi Miss Ziemba!”, or when I make a breakthrough in their confidence through their art and they share their love of the subject with me. All of that combined continually feels like a full circle moment and really never gets old.
Are you currently working on any interesting side projects?
Currently, I am working on painting a chair for a friend’s kindergarten classroom (a few years ago I painted a Harry Potter themed chair for her classroom’s reading nook), I recently participated in The Sketchbook Project through The Brooklyn Art Library, as well as a mural contest at the Steamtown Mall in Scranton, PA (pictured below), I have, and will continue to, organize and offer Summer art programs in the area through my business SamZiembaStudioWorks and I am constantly looking for more events and community projects to be a part of.
What are some of the biggest rewards in your career?
Some of the biggest rewards in my career include confidence building in myself and my students. When I graduated from Marywood I was ready to set the world on fire with my passion for art. I was met, though, with a lot of stress over finding a job. Teaching jobs can be hard to come by and the interview process was something that really knocked me down at first. Now, being able to say I have some experience, I feel like a different person. I try my best to teach my students that being unique is more important than being “good” and that you need to support yourself and those around you, and feel proud of the things you create. I am really proud that within the last 5 years I have been able to really find my confidence, my power and to project that onto my students so that they can go and set the world on fire in their own ways.
What’s something that would surprise people about your day-to-day?
Something that I think would surprise people about my day-to-day would be the fact that I carpool an hour to work everyday with a 6th grade math teacher and a health and PE teacher that have become such amazing friends.
What inspires you?
I think what inspires me most is people and how we adapt, how we move through life, how our minds work and how we perceive the things around us. I think many people would say that nature is a huge inspiration for them (which I agree with for myself) though I think it has more to do with how we experience and perceive nature that gives me inspiration; trying to figure something out that I may not have the answers to.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Being a part of the Where Creativity Works blog during my time at Marywood was one of the highlights of my experience there and I am so incredibly excited to be able to participate again as a full blown art teacher!
EDITORS NOTE: If you want to get a quick dose of insightful, inspiring, and often profound wisdom from when Sam was an undergraduate, please read all of her blog posts from her tenure as a Where Creativity Works blogger!
Any advice for current art students at Marywood?
My advice for current art students would be to take every challenge one step at a time. Take inspiration from those around you but don’t compare your work to theirs. Each one of you has an opportunity to be uniquely you, while being provided the best creative support you can find, so try to take deep breaths and take it all in. Every one of you has something valuable to bring to the table, so own your place at that table and continue being incredible.
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