Navigating the College Universe – Albright College

Navigating the College Universe

By Susan Shelly

Navigating the College Universe with Joseph Holowko and Beth Kiester

Also a “Star Wars” fan, Beth Kiester reached out through campus emails and posters, looking for a “Chosen One.” Photo by John Pankratz

Junior computer science/political science major Joseph Holowko ’21 has always loved “Star Wars.” He just never imagined that love might help him navigate the universe of college life.

But Holowko got a chance to connect his passion for “Star Wars” with his curiosity for technology, to co-create a first-year seminar course with sociology faculty member Elizabeth Kiester, Ph.D.

As the pair worked together through two Albright Creative Research Experiences (ACREs), it became increasingly clear that their expertise and knowledge were complementary.

“It was just a great experience,” reflects Holowko. “We co-created the course during the summer so Dr. Kiester could teach it in the fall semester. We collected student feedback at midterms and finals, and then I conducted an assessment of the course over the winter.”

A hit with students, “Star Wars: the Good, the Bad, the Sociology” will be offered again, examining the themes of gender, race, class, religion, government and family as portrayed in the “Star Wars” series.

Univer(sal) Exploration

And last summer, Holowko put his technology expertise to work through an internship at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation facility in West Virginia.

“I believe that technology can be used to improve lives,” says Holowko. “And, being space technology, it ties in with the “Star Wars” course!”

Assuring the safety of equipment used in space technology also links to Holowko’s desire to use technology to help others.

After graduation, he plans to pursue a leadership position in government or a non-profit organization, or perhaps seek a job in the medical field or entertainment industry.

The youngest of eight siblings, Holowko is a member of Alpha Sigma Phi, where he serves as vice president of service and philanthropy. In that position, he organized a “Walk a Day in Her Shoes” event to raise money for RAINN, a national organization that addresses issues of sexual abuse and violence, and ran Pond-A-Thon, a fraternity event that this year raised funds for the Humane Society of Berks County.

“The one goal I have in life is to help other people,” he says. “I believe that technology can be used to improve lives.”