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History class in England inspires Blugold to pursue new major, career

| Judy Berthiaume

LeeAnn Przybylski has had many fabulous classes taught by exceptional professors during her years as a Blugold, but it was an experience far from UW-Eau Claire’s campus that helped her find her future career path.

Przybylski was a biology major planning a career in medicine when on a whim she decided to study abroad, choosing England because her classes would be taught in English.

It was while studying at Harlaxton College in Grantham, England, that she discovered her passion for international politics.

This spring, the Stevens Point native will graduate with a degree in political science with an emphasis in legal studies.

“Studying abroad was the best decision I ever made,” says Przybylski, who will begin law school at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul in the fall. “It was from this experience that I realized my passion for international politics and changed my major. I wanted a future where I could forever continue learning about something that interested me and a degree in political science seemed to be a way to do that.”

During her time studying at Harlaxton College, Przybylski met incredible people and traveled extensively, giving her relationships and experiences that helped her grow in multiple ways, she says.

However, it was a British history class that changed her plans for her future.

“One of the best things the program did for me was to see history from another perspective,” Przybylski says of studying in England. “I took a British studies course that went over the United Kingdom’s entire history. The class truly changed my perspective on major wars and global events.

“With only being taught about these events from an American point of view, the class taught me to look at all things — whether it be a Supreme Court case, an event in history or global transactions — from an unbiased perspective.”

She came back to UW-Eau Claire with a new vision for her future, a future in law rather than medicine.

Since then, her coursework and three internships have left her more certain than ever that she is on the right path.

The internships created opportunities to build her skills and knowledge, while also identifying a potential career path within the legal field, she says.

Przybylski was a government affairs intern at the Realtors Association of Northwestern Wisconsin and the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association, a workforce development intern for the Home Builders Association and a legal intern for Johnson & Pauls Lawyers, an Eau Claire law firm that specializes in family law.

“Each internship helped me tremendously, whether it was practicing public speaking skills, learning networking and communication skills or learning what goes into filing paperwork for family law cases,” Przybylski says, adding that many of the people she worked with in her internships wrote her letters of recommendation for law school or helped her learn critical skills she will need to be successful in her future career. “I interned for a great attorney one summer who practiced family law, and this helped make my decision for what legal specialty I wanted to practice.”

While she discovered a passion for international politics as a Blugold, it was another passion that first brought Przybylski to UW-Eau Claire.

Growing up, her figure skating club always traveled to Eau Claire for a competition, which was her favorite event of every season.

When she learned that UW-Eau Claire had a synchronized figure skating club team, she decided it was the right college for her.

Four years later, Przybylski says UW-Eau Claire has been everything she hoped for in a college and more.

“I have loved every experience UWEC has given me from a great group of teammates on and off the ice, to study abroad experiences I will never forget and advisors and professors who have helped me through every step of my college experience,” Przybylski says.

“I have had so many wonderful professors and advisors at the university, and I am forever grateful. The political science department is so welcoming and every course I took I thoroughly enjoyed both the content and the professor.”

In political science, Drs. Eric Kasper and Steve Majstorovic were especially important to her success, she says.

“Whether it was helping me finalize internship plans or discussing plans for law school, Dr. Kasper has always been eager to help,” Przybylski says. “Without his guidance, my law school acceptance story may have looked very different. I also want to thank Dr. Majstorovic whose classes have always been my favorite.”

While her last semester of college is ending far different than planned because of COVID-19, her professors have helped make the transition to virtual learning go as smoothly as possible given the circumstances, she says.

“All of my classes this semester were political science courses and the entire department was phenomenal with reaching out to students and always answering questions via email,” Przybylski says. “They have made this difficult transition so much easier, so I was a very lucky student in that regard.

“I was also lucky that I have been able to keep my internship via online work.”

Knowing that she has three more years of law school ahead makes it a bit easier to handle losing the last few weeks of being on campus, she says, adding that she does plan to visit UW-Eau Claire’s campus mall at some point to take photos in her cap and gown.

“I have certainly learned some new technology tricks for working online from this experience,” Przybylski says of being a college student during the pandemic. “This experience has really shown me that as a community it is so important for us to help each other and lift each other up when times are tough.

“Everyone has been affected by this and someone, somewhere, always has it worse. A little compassion goes a long way.”

Photo caption: A history class that LeeAnn Przybylski took while studying abroad in England helped her find her passion for international politics.