Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories highlighting Concordia's May 2020 graduates.
Outgoing Student Government Association (SGA) President, Skylar Petrik is taking the disruption of his senior year at Concordia University Wisconsin in stride. While his student leadership reign has ended abruptly, Petrik, an accounting and finance major, completes his Concordia campus chapter with a solid “next plan,” life-long friendships, and his future wife.
“Concordia is one hundred percent about the people,” says Petrik. “I’ve made relationships with people who have helped to shape me into the person I am, and will be there for me for the rest of my life.”
As the SGA president Petrik enjoys a special relationship with the university’s executive leadership team. He credits Vice President of Student Life, Steve Taylor, Ed.D., and President Ferry for helping him develop his leadership style and confidence. He is also grateful for the faculty at Concordia for going out of their way to help students succeed.
“We have professors who really care about the students,” says Petrik. “They always make sure that we have a good foundation. They have the patience to ‘hold our hands’ when we need it and they regularly open up their personal and professional networks to help us find jobs and internships. I don’t think that happens as consistently at larger schools.”
As much as Petrik learned in the classroom, his leadership laboratory was entirely based in his involvement with student government.
“Concordia is the kind of place where people look out for each other; build each other up,” says Petrik. “When I was just a freshman, some older SGA students identified potential in me as a leader and encouraged me to get more and more involved. Eventually they mentored me into becoming the leader of the entire organization.”
Petrik is grateful for the generosity of others and makes a point to pay it forward. “I’m always planting seeds. I make sure to tell them that I see something special in them and that they are needed to make our student government successful.”
Petrik’s role as president ends at midnight on May 16. Junior Tanner Hill will take over as interim president until the official election in fall. Like the leaders before him, Petrik has been mentoring Hill for quite some time and praises Hill as a good fit and a natural leader. Petrik’s top advice to Hill?
“I tell him, ‘You’re going to have to find what works for you. The organization will reflect your leadership style and priorities.’”
Skylar and his fiancée, Elli Martysz, will be surrounded by dozens of Concordians when they say their vows this fall. After the wedding, the couple will move to Arizona where Skylar will pursue his aircraft maintenance certification from a technical school. Upon completion, he will join his family’s aviation business in Montana.
“Concordia is one hundred percent about the people. I’ve made relationships with people who have helped to shape me into the person I am, and will be there for me for the rest of my life.”—Skylar Petrik ('20), Accounting and Finance Major
As Petrik reflects on his final week as SGA president and as an undergraduate student, he admits that he discovered a deeper appreciation for CUW during his time away.
“I didn’t realize how much of a home it was for me until it was gone so abruptly,” says Petrik. “I don’t want our four years there to be defined by these last two months. So much happened during our time at Concordia…the new Plaster Center building and the Live Uncommon brand platform are just a few examples.”
Petrik is proud of his soon-to-be alma mater and looks forward to the day that his classmates gather to reminisce about their college days and the strange way that it all ended. A hallmark of Petrik’s leadership style is that he always finds the positive in any given situation.
“We will be just fine,” says Petrik. “We’ll look back at all this and realize that we were given precious time to reflect on what we want to do, to read more of God’s word, and to spend with our families…I think that’s pretty cool.”
Petrik and his 2020 classmates will be honored at a virtual degree conferral ceremony on Saturday, May 16. They will be celebrated in person at the December commencement celebration. These changes are in response to the Coronavirus. To learn more about Concordia’s response click here.
— Lisa Liljegren is assistant vice president of strategic communications within the Office of Strategy and University Affairs.
If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.