While the college experience is different for everyone, it’s typically a period of curiosity and self-discovery. For Christina Glezil ’20 that was certainly true as she navigated changes in career interests, travel opportunities, and exposure to new people and ideas while at UCF.
Channeling that same spirit of exploration, Glezil recently participated in a documentary filming experience with Roadtrip Nation — an organization that has supported young adults trying to find their way in the world for 19 years through the chance to travel and meet influential people across the country — which premieres today online. Sponsored by the Oak Foundation and Strada Education Network, the documentary, which features two other young adults, is also available for viewing on your local PBS channel.
Glezil’s trip began in March 2020 and was intended to last three weeks, but after spending the first few days in Joshua Tree National Park without cell service, the team realized shortly after heading to their next destination that their journey would need to take a detour.
“[This experience] really allowed me to be OK with uncertainty and be open to what life has to offer.”
— Christina Glezil ’20
“Every documentary has a different theme and from the beginning our theme was ‘Do it Differently’ and because of COVID we had to literally do it differently, so it was pretty surreal to experience that,” Glezil says. “Even with the trip getting cut short, those four days really impacted my perspective on life. It really allowed me to be OK with uncertainty and be open to what life has to offer.”
With that especially timely realization, she and the rest of the Do it Differently subjects returned to their respective homes to quarantine before Roadtrip Nation began resuming filming virtually in October. During that time Glezil had a chance to reflect on what brought her to that point and her recent graduation from UCF in Spring 2020.
Exploring her Paths
Glezil planned to study nursing when she came to UCF in Spring 2017, but soon after seeing all the different career paths she could pursue, she set her sights on computer science. During the Deltona, Florida, native’s first year an advisor encouraged her to apply for the Code 2040 Tech Trek, a career-prep program for Black and Latinx computer science majors that’s based in San Francisco.
“I checked it out and it sounded way too good to be true, but I applied and ended up getting in,” she says. “That was a super exciting and an unreal experience because I had never been to California. From there I met so many people and I got to be a part of other travel opportunities.”
After that she completed various tech-related experiences across the country — many of which focused on empowering students of color and women — including Twitter’s Early Bird program, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference, HBCU@SxSW, Bank of America’s Bank with Tech and Redbull’s Hack the Hits. She also participated in UCF’s Engineering Leadership and Innovation Institute (eli2), which aims to help students discover their desires and the confidence to deliver world-changing solutions.
“Every person I met had their own goals and dreams and things I never heard of, and that’s what inspired me the most about being at UCF — the people.”
— Christina Glezil ’20
As Glezil progressed through her computer science courses, she began to realize that while she was interested in tech, programming wasn’t her strength. So she switched her major to information technology, and then interdisciplinary studies, before ultimately completing a bachelor’s in integrative general studies. The flexible degree program is based on a self-designed curriculum that meets several learning outcomes, such as understanding common human themes, scientific methods, success writing, leadership skills and being a well-informed citizen.
“Although my academic life was a bit challenging, UCF still opened so many doors for me. I met so many people and made so many beautiful memories,” says Glezil, who worked for UCF Libraries for two years. “I thought I knew it all but when I came to UCF, I got exposed to so many different people, new majors and career paths. Every person I met had their own goals and dreams and things I never heard of, and that’s what inspired me the most about being at UCF — the people.”
Enjoying the Journey
Knowing the impact traveling and meeting new people had on her in the past, Glezil says when she came across an Instagram post promoting the Roadtrip Nation program during the fall of her senior year, she knew she had nothing to lose in applying. When she began doing more research on the experience, she even found a past Knight who participated. In 2015, marketing major Johnathan Allen ’17 had the chance to meet the late New Orleans chef Leah Chase, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, EGOT winner John Legend and several other successful people. By December 2019, Glezil knew she had made the final cut.
“At the time I was super confused with what I wanted to do after college and so I knew this trip was going to be an opportunity to meet other people who defined their own terms of success,” she says.
While Glezil’s experienced ended up being much different from what she expected, she still had the chance to virtually interview author and wellness educator Lalah Delia. Following COVID-19 safety measures, she also was able to take a local trip to the Jacksonville Zoo and interview Leanne White, the zoo’s director of education.
The two interviews would spark Glezil to return to two interests that began while she was at UCF. With time on her hands in quarantine, she became a certified yoga and mindfulness meditation instructor, as well as explored more opportunities with nonprofit work. In March, Glezil began working as program coordinator for nonprofit Technovation, which specializes in providing girls and families with tools and resources to help their communities.
“When I was at UCF, I did a community service work-study and my first job was working as a code instructor at Tech Sassy Girlz, which is a nonprofit that UCF works with a lot. So I still have that passion for technology and nonprofits and see that as my future,” she says.
“Hearing other people’s stories and how they found success despite the obstacles they came across reminded me that I am doing OK just as I am.”
— Christina Glezil ’20
Despite the bumps in her journey, each one has help Glezil arrive right at the destination she wants to be — she says she just needed to head off the beaten path with Roadtrip Nation to realize it.
“[Before this trip] I felt a lot of imposter syndrome, like I wasn’t doing something right and I was behind in life. I was in a rush,” Glezil says. “Hearing other people’s stories and how they found success despite the obstacles they came across reminded me that I am doing OK just as I am. So the biggest lesson I’ve learned is to live life in the slow lane and be able to enjoy your life rather than rushing to the destination.”