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Poole College Communicator Reflects on 15 Years of Storytelling

Ever since penning that fifth-grade report on bluebirds, Anna (Tyma) Rzewnicki knew she wanted to be a writer. Her career has included multiple stints in higher education communication, the past 15 working in the Marketing and Communications Office at the NC State Poole College of Management.

Rzewnicki will retire on Nov. 1 with cherished memories of news writing here at NC State, including an initial year in the College of Engineering’s computer science department.

“I enjoy telling the stories behind what’s going on inside of an academic institution and how it enables faculty to do what they do – their research and the related expansion of knowledge – and then how that transfers to students and helps them to learn, identify and build a career path,” Rzewnicki said.

She calls higher education a “powerhouse,” and said she enjoys seeing how donors, faculty, staff, industry, and students work together to further knowledge and create opportunities for others.

“I like talking to people, hearing people’s stories and sharing them,” Rzewnicki said. “Sharing these stories amplifies the good that’s going on, that people might not hear about otherwise.”

Some of her favorite stories involve entrepreneurship – a perfect fit for business school writing. She said she has talked about the entrepreneurial ventures of Poole College students so much that her family has banned the ‘e-word’ (entrepreneurship) from conversation when she is off the clock. 

Rzewnicki said she has also enjoyed writing about the college’s various centers and initiatives that were launched by faculty over the years as an outgrowth of their research – included are the Enterprise Risk Management Initiative, Business Sustainability Collaborative, Entrepreneurship Clinic, Supply Chain Resource Cooperative, Center for Innovation Management Studies and the Executive Education as well as the college’s diversity and inclusion programs. 

Reporting on student achievements has also been fun for her. 

“The energy students put into competitions and classroom projects is inspiring, especially when it ends up launching a career path or a business,” she said.

Throughout her career, Rzewnicki said she has strived to represent others accurately. Context is key, and accurate descriptions are a trait she’s known for as a writer.

“It’s their story. I’m just the vehicle,” Rzewnicki said.

For example, after the publication of one of her favorite recent stories, a profile on long-time Poole College friend and donor Ron Doggett, his son thanked her for accurately representing the senior Doggett as the business leader, philanthropist, and father his family knows him to be. Feedback such as this holds a special place in Rzewnicki’s heart.

When not at work, Rzewnicki can be found watching the news, reading mystery and faith-based books, and gardening.

“Being out in the garden is a good counterpoint to sitting or standing at a desk all day,” Rzewnicki said with a laugh. 

She coordinates the sharing garden at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Durham. The bulk of its harvest goes to the Durham Food Pantry.

When she and her husband joined the parish about five years ago, the garden consisted of two 4-by-8-foot beds. That year, Rzewnicki worked with student volunteers to plant collards that were added to the parish’s Thanksgiving dinner packages for those in need. Now, she and other volunteers grow and harvest tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, onions, okra, beans, peppers, lettuce, greens and more in a 40-by-30-foot garden. 

While she might have more time to devote to her favorite hobbies, Rzewnicki said she will miss regular interaction with the Poole College community.

“Thank you for all the wonderful stories you’ve given me to work with,” Rzewnicki said to Poole College faculty and staff. “Keep up the good work.”

Prior to her years at NC State, Rzewnicki’s career included positions at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Ohio State University; community and business newspapers in Nebraska and Pennsylvania; and a home health agency in Pennsylvania. 

She has been recognized for her writing with a few awards over the years, from the National Federation of Press Women and The International Association of Business Communicators. 

Poole College will host a reception for Rzewnicki to celebrate her retirement. The reception will be held from 9-10:30 a.m. on Oct. 15 in Nelson Hall 2111 (Dean’s Conference Room).

This story was written for the Poole College of Management by Rebecca Cross.