For Breana Houska, the decision to enroll at St. Louis Community College-Wildwood was an easy one.
The campus is located minutes from her home, so she knew it would provide her with an affordable option to complete general education courses prior to earning her bachelor’s degree. What she didn’t expected to find, however, was the breath of opportunities available for her to develop her leadership skills and contribute to the community.
“When I first enrolled at STLCC, I came to campus for class and then left immediately to go home or go to work,” Houska said. “After meeting Stephanie Church (coordinator for Campus Life and College Transition), that all changed.”
Church immediately knew that Houska had a lot to contribute to the campus. While it took some convincing, Church continued to encourage her to get involved.
“When I first met Bre, I was fascinated with her incredibly vibrant hair colors — bright blue, translucent teal, flame red. She was fearless, sporting an ever-changing palate of bold colors,” Church said. “I was certain this bright young woman was destined to be one of our student leaders. Within a few short months, she embraced the opportunity to fully engage in several clubs, and she has been making a positive impact on our campus ever since.”
Today, Houska maintains excellent grades at STLCC. She is one semester away from completing the final courses she needs to earn her associate degree.
Outside of the classroom, she is involved in numerous campus organizations. Among these, she serves as president of STLCC-Wildwood’s chapter for Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges. Since assuming this role, she has been working fiercely to recover the chapter’s five-star status. In an effort to do this, Houska is leading the chapter’s Honors in Action project.
“For this project, we plan to build little lending libraries at three city schools,” Houska said. “We have decided to fill the libraries with books about diversity because it is a relevant and important topic in today’s world.”
In addition to her role with Phi Theta Kappa, she leads the community service club, the Volunteers of Wildwood. She also serves as secretary for the Student Government Association and is an active member of STLCC-Wildwood’s Amnesty International and Gay Straight Alliance/LGBT organizations.
“I’m addicted to being active,” Houska said jokingly. “I’ve made so many connections through my involvement on campus. It’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
Although she hasn’t finalized her transfer plans, after graduation she intends to pursue a degree in a science-related field. Her decision may surprise some, given that she comes from a line of pilots.
“Growing up, I always thought I’d follow in my dad’s and uncles’ footsteps and become a helicopter pilot,” she said. “While I enjoy being up in the air, a flight we took from St. Louis to Florida a few years ago helped me realize that flying isn’t the right career for me.”
Instead, Houska is looking into career options that will allow her to blend her passion for advocacy and animals. In addition, she is considering earning her pilot’s license so she can fly as a hobby.
When asked what advice she would offer other students, she said, “Don’t be scared of failure or trying something new. College is the perfect place for you to explore your interests and develop your leadership skills. While I have done many leadership conferences and trainings, I have found that being a leader is not something you can be taught. It is something you find within yourself.”
Houska’s ongoing involvement at STLCC-Wildwood is proof of that.
“Bre is the type of person who is able and willing to learn,” Church said. “She is courageous and has the humility and integrity of a true leader. She is a community college success story, and I am thankful for her contributions to our campus.”