Iwanski Finds Balance Between Sustainability and Creative Writing at BSU


When searching for a university to attend, Skye I. R. Iwanski was looking for a school that offered a quality creative writing program and had a strong commitment to the environment.

Enter Bemidji State.

Moving from Appleton, Wisc., Iwanski enrolled at Bemidji State University in the fall of 2017 to major in creative and professional writing, minor in philosophy and work in BSU’s sustainability office.

“I was looking for creative writing programs and this is one of the only schools that offered one that was far, but not all the way across the country from home,” she said. “The sustainability office also became a big factor when I chose BSU. It was almost on par with the creative writing and it means a lot to me. I love how environmentally conscious BSU is and how hard we work to keep improving it. I applied for a job at the office on the first day that I got here.”

Dr. Jim Barta, dean of the College of Arts, Education and Humanities, met Iwanski at Convocation during her first weekend on campus and was struck by her energy and passion for life.

“I could tell right away that she wants to make a difference,” he said. “She wants to change the world.”

Striving to get involved on campus and learn something new, Iwanski set out to join every group that she could. From the ballroom and swing dance clubs to the bird watching club, she spent her freshman year trying new things and developing her strengths.

Now in her sophomore year, Iwanski is on track to graduate early and has found a balance between academics, campus involvement and her hobbies.

Working at the sustainability office, Iwanski brainstorms “green” initiatives and helps organize events. She is currently working on the Arts of the Earth Festival, a celebration of art and Earth, in which she will present some of her poetry. She is also coordinating a Traditional Skills Workshop for knitting and yarn dyeing.

In addition to Iwanski’s involvement with the sustainability office, she is also an honors student at BSU. The Honors Program provides students an intellectually challenging, supportive environment that features interdisciplinary academic rigor.

“It is helpful that they have a community of other honor students that you can talk to and work with,” she said. “You just have to make sure that you maintain those connections.”

Outside of her campus involvements, Iwanski has an ever-expanding list of hobbies that includes playing the clarinet and ukulele, practicing photography, writing and composing poetry. She is currently teaching herself to crochet, watercolor and play the harmonica and drums. Among all of this, Iwanski also dedicates herself to living a vegan lifestyle.

Set to graduate in the Spring of 2020, Iwanski has started exploring her career goals. Her dream is to be an author of fiction, science fiction and fantasy. She is fascinated with the process of writing something fictional and making it relatable.

While reflecting on her time at BSU, Iwanski offers her words of wisdom for new college students.

“My advice is to try to get out of your dorm room. Just bring a friend with you and try something new! Maybe even try something you don’t think you would be good at,” she said. “Your first semester is going to be hard, because it is a completely new environment. You are learning in a new way, you are living with your peers. Try to find your healthy balance, that is what college is all about.”

About Sustainability

The Bemidji State University Sustainability Office is a collaborative group of students, faculty, staff and administrators who guide the university’s core fundamental commitment to sustainability. The office not only educates, communicates, plans and manages projects and initiatives related to campus sustainability, resource usage and wellness, but also has grown into a community and regional leader in all aspects of sustainability. The office also manages the university’s “Green Fee,” a $7.50-per-semester student fee passed at the behest of BSU students which funds a variety of sustainability related projects on campus.

About Creative and Professional Writing Program

The Bemidji State University’s bachelor’s of fine arts (BFA) in creative and professional writing is one of only 15 in the United States. In 2006, the program won the Minnesota State award for excellence in academic programming. The BFA program prepares students to pursue a master’s degree in English or writing. BSU graduates have been accepted into many masters programs across the United States including those at Bemidji State, Bowling Green State University, Notre Dame University, Rutger’s University, Emerson University and more.


Bemidji State University, located amid the lakes and forests of northern Minnesota, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling more than 5,100 students, Bemidji State offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and eight graduate degrees encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. BSU is a member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities and has a faculty and staff of more than 550. The university’s Shared Fundamental Values include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and international and multicultural understanding. For more, visit bemidjistate.edu or find us at BemidjiState on most of your favorite social media networks.


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