Horticulture major Maya Czulewicz might be a little hard to pin down after graduation.
On any given day she might be at the Morris Arboretum or you might find her at the Wyck Rose Garden. While others might find the prospect of two tandem jobs daunting, Czulewicz wanted the multi-faceted opportunities to hone her craft that each position brings.
“I’ve never been someone who just wanted to do one thing and these are both very different experiences,” said Maya Czulewicz, 36, who will be one of the two student speakers at this year’s School of Environmental Design Graduation Ceremony. “Morris Arboretum is very labor heavy; Wyck’s rose gardens are among the oldest in America — both jobs emphasize technique. I’m looking forward to refining my skills and technical mastery in these wonderful outdoor landscapes; both locations have a lot of strong Temple connections.”
The connections between Wyck and Temple University Ambler in particular run deep. Wyck, a National Historic Landmark house, garden, and farm in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, served as the ancestral home to the Wistar-Haines family for over nine generations. Jane Bowne Haines established the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women — the forerunner of what would become the Ambler Campus — ushering in more than a century of environmental education and stewardship.
“This year actually marks the 100th graduation ceremony held at the Ambler Campus and it’s an honor to be part of that history. I want to talk about what was taking place in 1915, what were some of the technologies being used then, and place horticulture, landscape architecture, planning into an historical and cultural context,” Czulewicz said. “What was being built then and the techniques that were being used to create them were happening because the world was ready for them. The same can be said for what is taking place in these very rapidly changing fields today.”
Temple’s Certificate in Horticultural Therapy offered at the Ambler Campus first drew Czulewicz to the university. Upon graduation however, she will depart with her bachelor’s degree in Horticulture and completed certificates in both horticultural therapy and environmental sustainability.
“As a kid, I remember taking nature walks with my grandmother and my cousin in Connecticut; I was very much an environmentalist, but lost some of that along the way. Horticultural Therapy completely rekindled my love of nature and gardening and the outdoors,” she said. “It’s a beautiful field and something I believe in very strongly. Temple’s program has given me the confidence and the practical knowledge to face all of the unknowns that are bound to exist in the real world — gardens are always unpredictable, there’s always going to be unknowns.”
Since starting at Temple, Czulewicz has been a staple in the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University and the Ambler Campus Greenhouse.
“My experience as a student is completely intertwined with my involvement as a student worker. For a horticulturist, it didn’t make any sense not to be in the gardens as much as possible,” she said. “Going from being here just during the summer months at first to being on campus year round for almost three years has been wonderful. I’ve gain so much from working in the arboretum, in the greenhouse and on Temple’s Philadelphia Flower Show exhibits. It’s the most practical application of what I’m learning in the classroom that I can think of.”
Czulewicz will be the first to tell you that her entrance into the horticulture profession was anything but beeline straight. She came to horticulture by way of Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Alexandre Dumas.
“I was a double major, French Literature and Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology. I lost my scientific mind for a little while and focused on completing my French degree,” she said. “In my 20’s, I taught English as a Second Language while living in Paris. I immersed myself in the culture but while some people were telling me I should become a French professor, I came to the realization that wasn’t something I wanted to do.”
Returning the states, she took a job with a French/American Preschool where, in addition to other studies, she worked with the children in the school’s gardens. It was a light bulb moment, Czulewicz said.
“It was like ‘Oh yeah, this is me, growing and cultivating, working with my hands’ — the spark was back. Combining all of these experiences, I now have the confidence to create a practical life for myself,” she said. “I know I’ll always be a student; I’ll always be a lifelong learner. Temple has given me a lot of empowerment in that process. I’m ready to tie it all together now — I’m ready to enter the real world. At least Temple says I’m ready. I think they’re right.”
Article Written by Jim Duffy, MSEd Public Relations and Website Coordinator. Temple University Ambler Administration Building
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