SFU experience is life-changing

To say that Lucia Pecnikova has an insatiable thirst for knowledge is an understatement. Pecnikova, an academic advisor with SFU Student Services, is graduating with an SFU BA this month after completing 163 course credits instead of the required 120.

She completed most of those courses while working full-time and attending SFU part-time to complete a double minor—in English and in counselling and human development. To accomplish her goal, she pursued courses through SFU NOW: Nights or Weekends and SFU’s Centre for Distance Education.

Pecnikova, 32, has a student story that differs from most. Originally from Slovakia, she came to SFU 11 years ago as an undergraduate exchange student from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. After completing two exchange terms, she decided not to return home. She’d begun to realize that studying at SFU offered her many more options.

“There wasn’t as much focus on extracurricular activities at my university in Europe at that time,” says Pecnikova who, despite working full-time off-campus, volunteered with SFU student clubs and joined student leadership programs.

“At Charles University, you were admitted directly into a specific program. There were few opportunities to explore different majors. I wanted to build a new life and explore the possibilities.”

"I immigrated, was on one path and then changed it, so I can relate to students who are exploring and figuring it out one step and one course at a time."

—Lucia Pecnikova, B.A. graduand

Her SFU extracurricular activities led her to add a minor in counselling after she discovered she loved working with people.

Then, despite holding a full-time job in publishing, Pecnikova set her sights on finding a job working with students at SFU. When she wasn’t successful, she applied to the SFU co-op education program, landing two co-op work terms at the University while studying. Happily, these led to a part-time SFU position three years ago as a student peer advisor, then full-time contract positions as associate advisor with the Student Recruitment and Transition unit and, this year, as an academic advisor with Student Engagement and Retention.

Her latest job, she says, is her ‘dream’ job and she feels she has much to share with students.

“I immigrated, was on one path and then changed it, so I can relate to students who are exploring and figuring it out one step and one course at a time.”

What she valued most at SFU, she says, was the student clubs.

“That’s what pulled me in and helped me learn about myself.”

Now, she’s poised to begin an SFU graduate degree in counselling psychology.

“The SFU experience has been life-changing,” she says. “I’ve created a new life through education and volunteering, and learned new things. University is about figuring out where you fit in the world.”