Top grad at Maine South talks volunteering, academics ... pop music
NAME: Austin Bryniarski
BEST KNOWN AS: Maine South 2012 graduate
HOMETOWN: Park Ridge
Updated: July 15, 2012 6:08AM
Austin Bryniarski completed his studies at Maine South High School in the top 1 percent of his class; is a member of the National Honor Society; led the school’s Speech Team, student newspaper and foreign language magazine; competed on the state championship Constitution Team; and was nominated for the Union League Club of Chicago’s Democracy in Action Award. In the fall he’s headed to Yale University where he will study environmental studies and political science.
activity was the most meaningful?
Our school newspaper, Southwords, is unique in that it brings a bunch of different people together to work towards a common goal — something I really appreciate. It’s interdisciplinary, too, since it’s a combination of English and design. As managing editor, I can satisfy a lot of my different interests.
You volunteer at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. What work do you do there?
I work in the Surgery Lounge picking up the phone, paging the families of patients in surgery and communicating with other parts of the hospital to make sure family members are where they need to be. It’s like working at Olive Garden, but more fulfilling.
Talk about the U.S. Senate campaign you worked on.
I worked for Alexi Giannoulias’s campaign going into sophomore year. I participated in phone-banking (calling up voters), canvassing, attending events (like Taste of Greece) and looking up data. My interest in political campaigns was piqued when I phone-banked and canvassed my freshman year with President Obama’s campaign, and my summer going into junior year was spent working for what was essentially a floating campaign for various Illinois General Assembly members. I love reaching out to voters, and — it sounds a little romantic — seeing the democratic process in action.
What was your favorite subject in school?
There are so many options, but I’ll go with psychology. I love science and I love history, so it was the perfect blend of the two subjects. Not only did I get to learn about the evolution of personality theories and different ideas of how we develop psychologically, but the biological mechanisms that make them happen. I want to major in environmental studies because it has that same, two-fold approach of policy and history, but also sciences.
What was the most challenging class you took?
English my junior year was pretty tough. I’m not a reader.
What do you
attribute to your school successes?
The great teachers. Never did I feel bad about asking for help or talking to them, and they were always helpful. I can safely say that I’ve never had a bad teacher at Maine South.
What career are you considering after college?
I have no idea. Definitely something with the food system, whether that be agricultural or more on the business side of things. Otherwise, I think it’d be awfully neat to work on Capitol Hill, but your job depends on who is in office.
What hobbies do you enjoy?
Going out with friends, cooking, volunteering and now that it’s summer I’m becoming increasingly athletic.
Top songs in your iPod?
“Bad Girls,” by M.I.A.; “We Are Young,” by Fun; and “Electric Feel,” by MGMT. I have the music taste of a 14-year-old girl.
English or calculus?
Is there hope for the Cubs this year?
Is there ever?