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May 25, 2012

Students from Austin, East Bernard named Mr. and Ms. Blinn

Szalwinski active in Blinn bands while Vincek is SGA vice president

Sophomores Peter Szalwinski and Libby Vincek
Sophomores Peter Szalwinski and Libby Vincek

Peter Szalwinski and Libby Vincek seem to have packed more than just two years into their Blinn College experience.

Exceptional students who have taken advantage of the wealth of activities Blinn has to offer, the duo was recently elected Mr. and Ms. Buccaneer by their peers.

“I really wanted to be named Ms. Buccaneer because I love Blinn,” said Vincek, a sophomore communication studies major from East Bernard, Texas. “It just made my experience here complete.”

To be eligible, nominees must be full-time students who have exhibited outstanding leadership and moral character and have a grade-point average above 3.0. Nominations are made by the Blinn faculty, administration and staff before the top nominees are placed on the ballot and voted upon by the students.

Szalwinski attended the Liberal Arts and Science Academy, a magnet high school in Austin, before he came to Blinn on a band scholarship. Majoring in psychology, he plays in the Buccaneer marching band, the concert and steel band and also the jazz band both semesters. He also works at the band hall and is a resident advisor in the band dorm.

He came to Blinn after his older brother Nathan played on Blinn’s band for two years.
“Coming from a small high school, I like being on a small campus,” Szalwinski said. “I definitely enjoy the smaller classroom size and feel like you can learn more in a small classroom than a large lecture.”

Szalwinski plays the bassoon, a double reed instrument that stands about four feet tall and is commonly played in symphonies. His two brothers, sister and mother all play the bassoon.
When he’s not playing music, Szalwinski makes certain he and his friends stay in touch by loaning his camera to friends and encouraging them to take as many photos as they can. When the day is over, they select the 30 best photos and post them on Facebook for all their friends to see.

“It’s a cool way for everybody to stay in touch,” Szalwinski said.

He will continue his band career at Northwestern (La.) State, where he has earned a band scholarship and will major in psychology.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I know there will be different things, but it will be fun.”

Vincek hasn’t wasted any time jumping into various student organizations since coming to Blinn from East Bernard High School. As a student ambassador, she guides campus tours and answers questions from prospective students. She is also vice president of the Student Government Association, president of the Catholic Student Union and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society and Wii Speak, a student speech club.

“I figured if I’m only going to be here two years and want to make a difference then I needed to start as soon as I could,” Vincek said. “You can’t ease into anything because you’re not here very long.”

Vincek said Blinn has given her the opportunity to gain independence while remaining close to home.

“I knew I didn’t want to go straight to a four-year university because I didn’t want to be overwhelmed, and Blinn was just the perfect school to start my college experience,” she said.

Now Vincek will take the next step in her college career as she prepares to attend TCU in the Fall, where she will major in communication studies and minor in sports broadcasting.

“That’s going to be really exciting,” she said. “It’s going to be a whole new experience.”
Coming from tiny East Bernard, Vincek said she was glad she chose to attend Blinn for two years before packing her bags for Fort Worth.

“I was nervous coming to college for the first time, but it was a lot easier adjustment than I thought it would be,” she said. “That’s why I like it at Blinn. It feels like home.”