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History in the Making

In Frank Bystrzak’s family, being a Steelworker is a tradition. He proudly took up the reins after high school and joined USW Local 135L in Buffalo. “I never really knew what I wanted to be, and joining my family at the plant was the right path at the time," he said. Eventually, Frank started to get the itch to return to college in 2014. He felt secure in his job at the plant but wanted to be prepared for anything the future may hold. Frank began to gather his options when he learned about his ICD benefits. He decided to take full advantage of the tuition assistance portion and dove into classes, all while keeping his full-time job. “With the ICD benefit, my goal was financially achievable," Frank said.  He had earned his associate's degree and wanted to continue on to his bachelor's, but was undecided on what he wanted his concentration to be. His wife Dawn, his biggest supporter through it all, then asked him the million-dollar question, “What are you the most passionate about?” 

One word came to him --  History. 

This subject has interested Frank since he was a kid, and now he wants to pass that on to the next generation. He contacted the ICD Coordinator at Buffalo, Mary Ennis, to create a plan to achieve his Bachelor of Arts in History and Education. The process was slow, with only taking two classes at a time with a 50-hour work week, but he reached the finish line. 

Frank graduated with his degree in 2023 from Empire State University but wants his journey to continue. He is now pursuing his Masters in Emerging Technologies and Educational Design. The pandemic, his online educational journey, and his passion for history have inspired these concentrations. 

“I want to teach students how to utilize technology to access our past. I want to show them that history may not always repeat itself, but it does echo,” Frank said. He wishes to thank Mary Ennis for helping to make his higher education affordable and his wife for being his true inspiration and support system throughout this journey. 

Frank has these words for those still on the fence to use their ICD benefit: “If it is something you are really passionate about, you will sacrifice and find the time,” he said. 

“Once you start, you will be amazed at what you can actually achieve.” 

Thomas OShei (not verified) Wed, 07/10/2024 - 10:45

Way to go Frank!!

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