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Joe Kozak '12
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Flowers bloom in the Prairie Plot on campus.

Joe Kozak '12

Chicago, Illinois

Major in Economics, Minors in Business and Psychology

Joe completed his MBA at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management, attending classes in the evenings after work.

Joe Kozak '12

Joe, who played basketball for the Knox Prairie Fire, works as a second vice president and associate banking advisor at Northern Trust in Chicago and recently earned his master of business administration degree.

Describe your time at Knox and the impact that your education has had on your post-Knox life.

Knox was indispensable in molding me into the person I am today and in guiding my continued evolution both professionally and personally. Knox not only gave me the technical skills I've needed in the professional world but also the softer skills that are critical in working with diverse teams. Knox also gave me wonderful friendships that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Can you describe a favorite memory or two from your time at Knox? 

My favorite memories revolve around Flunk Day. It was a cathartic experience and reinforced the value of not always taking things too seriously. A lot of my other memories were less specific instances, and more shared experiences: meals in the caf & Gizmo, classes with J-Pow & Spittell [Assistant Professor of Economics Jonathan Powers and Wagner Distinguished Chair in Business John Spittell], waking up early for basketball practice, and being on a mostly deserted campus throughout the winter.

Why is Knox important to you? 

Knox allowed me to break free from the "bubble" I grew up in, and I was really able to forge my own identity. I suppose that's true of most students' college experience anywhere, but at Knox, I remember that I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable at first, as I was challenged to think in ways I never thought that I would.

Has the pandemic affected your work?  If so, how?

It has affected my work in several ways. I've been working from my home now since March 16. I used to commute via train every day into downtown Chicago. Being in commercial banking, I've also been on the front lines of the CARES Act and things like the PPP program. It's been a chaotic couple of months for sure.

What words of encouragement would you like to offer current and prospective students during this crisis?

We're all living in a history lesson right now. The ability to press on and persevere through these unique and challenging times will provide powerful stories for both personal and professional use. Don't take these days for granted. It's easy to get bored right now, but think of the ways you've had to adjust in real-time for the greater good, and never forget them. This too shall pass, and life will go on, perhaps differently than before, but it will go on.

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Printed on Friday, February 3, 2023