Forensic Investigation: Mia Baranowski

Like hundreds of others in May, Mia Baranowski will be walking to receive her college degree, and her time as an undergraduate at Waynesburg University will come to a close. Considering that Baranowski’s journey began nowhere near the world of chemistry and forensic investigation, it raises the question of what caused such a sudden change.

     “My journey here has done a complete 360 from where I started. When I came here, I wanted to be a lawyer. However, through my travels around the country, I fell in love with adventure and knew that I wanted to travel for my career,” Baranowski said, while making reference to what her current plans are following graduation in May. “Upon graduation, I will be working for the National Park Service as an Interpretive Park Ranger. If you told me freshman year that I would be a Park Ranger, I would have told you that there was no way. I learned to prioritize life experiences over any type of monetary gain and travel for me is how to do this.”

     According to Baranowski, amidst all of the new peers and educators to have crossed her path during her time at Waynesburg, there seems to be one individual to have stood out among them all.

     “My best friend, Kensie Sanders, has completely changed the way I view the world. I fully accredit my sense of adventure to this woman.” Baranowski said, further elaborating on how their friendship began to spark from when they first met. “We started doing road trips during our freshman year summer – going into our sophomore year – and we explored the entire west coast over the course of two summers – only three weeks in total. We camped, laughed, cried, and I learned that life is so much more than my small bubble.”

     Sanders, who also touched on how they spent weeks in the West Coast together and have grown together since they first met, noted that she and Baranowski share a similar quality that seemingly brought them together.

     “I would say that Mia and I are very similar in a lot of ways, especially in the way we both love trying new things,” Sanders said, sharing how this shared trait actually pushes them to be better versions of themselves, “Since being friends, I would say that we have both pushed each other to try and go after things we usually wouldn’t. I always try to encourage Mia to go after what she wants and push her to do things she thinks she isn’t capable of.”

     As for Baranowski, her advice to those who are to follow after her in the years to come is to not fret from the path they originally start on, and how changing course may be the best option to take.

     “I encourage anyone who may go down a similar path to me to not fear deviating from your major. Just because you receive a degree in a certain subject does not, and should not, limit you from fulfilling your dreams.” Baranowski said, concluding with a similar sentiment to chase after passion rather than riches, “Learn to follow what your heart wants. Yes, it’s cheesy, because if you are happy with your job, life becomes so much more enjoyable. Work to live, do not live to work.”