An education with excellence in athletics, music, and career preparation
Last spring Lucas Kramarczuk ’23 broke the school record in the 60- and 110-meter hurdles, competed in his third consecutive NCAA DIII Track and Field National Championship, toured Japan playing saxophone with the St. Olaf Band, and then began the full-time job he landed as a manufacturing process engineer at 3M months before graduating from St. Olaf magna cum laude. Oh, and along the way he kept his side gig as a professional disc golfer going strong.
Excelling in all these areas all at once is nothing new for Kramarczuk. From music to athletics to STEM, he leveraged the liberal arts curriculum and extracurricular opportunities at St. Olaf College to compete and perform at the highest level.
Going from class to track to band, Kramarczuk found that each of his activities complemented and enhanced the others, and instilled in him the value of community.
“I’d go from a workout to band, or from a physics problem set to go practice my instrument,” he says. “It was refreshing to go from one side of my brain to a completely different one.”
A double math and physics major with a statistics and data science concentration, Kramarczuk spent all four of his years on the dean’s list, conducted research through the St. Olaf Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry program (CURI) program, and found invaluable mentors in and out of his academic disciplines.
Initially considering a traditional STEM or engineering school, Kramarczuk chose to attend St. Olaf because of the unique opportunities the college offers. “Anyone is able to build up analytical and technical skills in whatever kind of STEM degree you have,” he says. “But what really sets you apart with a liberal arts degree is the soft skills like writing and communication.”
“Anyone is able to build up analytical and technical skills in whatever kind of STEM degree you have. But what really sets you apart with a liberal arts degree is the soft skills like writing and communication.”Lucas Kramarczuk ’23
Although he wasn’t initially super excited about having to take courses like religion and writing, Kramarczuk says they were valuable, fun, and a good way to round out his education.
The summer after his junior year, while Kramarczuk was conducting a microscale friction research project through CURI, he was also interning at 3M doing data science work. When he began applying for jobs his senior year, he says, he was surprised to see how full his resume was.
From being a track captain, a section leader, and organizing a saxophone quartet to completing academic projects and attending a physics research conference, his experiences just added up.
“It’s not only the classes I’ve taken,” he says. “I’ve got projects I’ve done, and real applicable experience from my time at St. Olaf. It’s awesome and it really speaks to the whole value of the liberal arts.”
Through connections he made during his internship at 3M, Kramarczuk landed a job as a manufacturing process engineer and is now working full-time for 3M in Omaha, Nebraska.
Although he was very busy at St. Olaf, Kramarczuk found time to be social. From classmates to professors, teammates, coaches, fellow players, and band directors, Kramarczuk developed meaningful relationships in each one of his activities. In recognition of his athletic, academic, and community service accomplishments, he was named a 2022-2023 Dave Hauck Award recipient.
Encouraged by his coaches in track and field, Kramarczuk achieved higher than he ever thought he could. Embracing mentorship in academics, he found opportunities and pushed himself to learn. And as a member of the St. Olaf Band, he says, coming together with fellow musicians over the essential message of the music they played, he learned how impactful teamwork can be on an artistic and emotional level.
Kramarczuk says his friends would describe him as a joker, adept at sarcasm, and easy to connect with on a personal level. He points to the value of spending time with his friends while doing the activities he loves, which provided the support and community he needed with a busy schedule.
Kramarczuk says the key to balancing it all was maintaining a growth mindset and never setting barriers for himself.
“I was a little doubtful coming in that I could balance track, music, and STEM all in one,” he says, “but you just need to believe in yourself and trust yourself that whatever you do, you go for it and you will adapt.”
“I was a little doubtful coming in that I could balance track, music, and STEM all in one, but you just need to believe in yourself and trust yourself that whatever you do, you go for it and you will adapt.”Lucas Kramarczuk ’23
In what free time he could find at St. Olaf, Kramarczuk also became a professional disc golfer. He’s been playing casually since middle school, and embraced it as an outlet for his competitive spirit during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 he landed his first disc golf sponsorship, and he has continued to pursue it since. He still competes, and his career earnings are currently over $6,000. Kramarczuk says as much as he enjoys his job post-graduation, making money from disc golf is his dream.
“I didn’t expect it,” he says. “I just stepped my foot in with a growth mindset, it was fun, and I went from there.”