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February 2018


Telling the stories of social justice: Joan Wozniak
Susan Rubenstein DeMasi


Joan Wozniak, a professional assistant in the SCCC media department, actively works for social justice in her professional and personal lives. (photo by Victoria Pendzick)

Joan Wozniak, a professional assistant in the SCCC media department who creates video productions for the college, can best be described by her talents and values: creativity, social justice and social engagement. She embraces these in equal measure, meshing them into the fabric of her life and work.

Although her office and editing suite is in the Learning Resource Center at the Grant Campus, she is a presence on all three campuses. With her job split between instructional media and institutional advancement, one of her favorite parts of her work is telling student and alumni success stories.

Take a look at some of these stories on the SCCC Media website. There is Thalia, who is now pursuing a law degree; Chip, who works in the radio/TV industry; and Frank, president of the SCCC chapter of the Association of Latin American Students.

Her videos tell institutional stories as well, including “No More,” the college’s initiative against domestic violence. Joan appreciates that she has the opportunity to cover and promote social justice issues. “I feel really lucky that I get to be creative in my work and also make an impact,” she says.

One of the things Joan enjoys most about her job is hearing students and alumni talk about how the college has shaped their lives. “It’s so incredible that we work for an institution that actually has a pronounced effect on people’s future.” She also enjoys the relationships she is able to forge. “It’s about the relationships for me and about the stories. This can have an impact in two ways: one is to inform people what the college does. The other is to empower their students to tell their stories.”

She also works with various departments. She’s done recent videos for the admissions office and student activities, the latter to encourage students to become orientation leaders.

SCCC benefits from the photographic talents of Joan Wozniak. Above is her photo of students performing in a stage production of Caliban.

Whether it’s working with students, collaborating with her media colleagues, or making graphics and editing videos, she appreciates her work environment because, she says, “I get to do what I love to do. So for me it’s a perfect fit.”

Recently Joan earned an advanced certificate in emerging media and the arts. With new opportunities on the Grant Campus in performance arts and with her new knowledge and experience in digital and multimedia design for theatre, she was offered an overload to assist the theatre department in their productions. Since last year her talents and skills have enhanced productions at the Grant Campus.

She is especially appreciative of the FA and its successes at creating employment equity. Prior to starting full time in 2013, she owned her own commercial photography studio.

“I had the responsibility of buying my own health insurance, worrying about income fluctuations depending on the market—all those things that business owners have to deal with. When I became full time at the college I was really happy to be part of the union. My income became predictable. I had good benefits and vacation time. I felt the union served me in a great way, that I could do what I do best and still have the opportunity to be happy in my career.”

“I feel tied to the union because of my passion for social justice and equity,” she continued. “I think the union is a special kind of vehicle to insure equity and social justice. I felt if I was going to benefit from this, that I should somehow give back. I try to be involved and stay aware of what’s going on and advocate for things when necessary, so that I can support unions, which I think are critical to our society.”

Her involvement includes attending the NYSUT Community College Conference every year to stay abreast of new developments and being active on IDEA, the FA’s new social justice team.

Her social justice stances carry over to her personal life. Eight years ago, she started an art program for the children who come with their families to her church’s soup kitchen. Over this period she has watched some of the mostly immigrant children grow up and has become close to a number of them.

Joan Wozniak is a woman of many talents, all of which she uses to promote SCCC’s mission. Follow the links above; her work speaks for itself.