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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Stan Gryskiewicz, November 5, 1998. Interview S-0016. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

College experiences foundation for later career in creative leadership development

Gryskiewicz discusses his college education at Stetson University in Deland, Florida, during the mid-1960s. In particular, Gryskiewicz explains his leadership activities and his decision to major in psychology. Additionally, he discusses his decision to pursue graduate work at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. This passage serves as a basis for Gryskiewicz's larger discussion about his years of service with the Center for Creative Leadership.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Stan Gryskiewicz, November 5, 1998. Interview S-0016. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

And when I finished high school there, I was very much involved in leadership activities, church, school, sports, the whole wonderful what you would expect in a high school experience. I did all those things and went on to a university. I had been accepted at the State University of New Jersey at Rutgers but lo and behold, this school in Florida called Stetson University gave me a full scholarship which was important to my family. And Stetson is the Baptist school of Florida or has traditionally been that, so there was some encouragement around that as well. So I went off to Stetson and four years there as an undergraduate in psychology.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Is that your family was Baptist with your surname?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Yes. It happened because of both of my parents had been divorced and the Catholic church would not allow them back in the 1930's. And there was a sweet little Aunt Edith who lived next door to them who I remember singing at her husband's funeral. I was a voice major with a voice scholarship major. But I guess what she did was knock on the door one time and said to my parents I notice you don't go to church, how would you like to go with us?
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
How about that.
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
So I was raised in a Baptist church. Not the conservative Baptist Church, which I thank God for. It was American Baptist and it was a bit different. So went to Stetson on a voice scholarship. And I had a voice in the old days for singing great range. I was all state chorus. I sang all the way through church through my school choirs. Did all that, and then when I went to Stetson, I tried out for concert choir, and they gave me a full scholarship to sing in their traveling choir which was a big thing at Stetson. So for the first three years, I sang for my education. By my senior year, I was working as the dorm residency advisor and doing all that stuff with a changed psychology major.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Why psychology?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Well, I'm getting personal, and that's okay with me, but is that okay with you to use this kind of information?
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Oh, yeah, I think it's very important.
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Why psychology was because I grew up in that church experience and I often thought that I had a calling to be a minister. But I always liked people. I remember being really frustrated in the library at Stetson one time. And this was before I even knew Jungian topology. I remember saying damn, I don't think as quickly as some of these people. I have feelings. I understand emotions and feelings, and these people don't understand that. And this was before I even understood the Jungian dichotomy. And so I was always real sensitive, sensitive around people, intuitive around people. And I related to people well. I was president of the student union when I was a junior at Stetson. So I moved along through that quickly. When I was president of the union, we passed a bill that said we could have dancing on campus. This was 1966,'67, somewhere in there.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Letting your hair down.
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
And you see, they used to have dancing in fraternity houses. And I was a member of a fraternity, so we could dance on weekends. But if you wanted to attend a school function dance, you had to go off campus, which meant traveling, which meant accidents, people hurt. So we said this is ridiculous. So we had this vote, and of course the Baptist Convention reduced our funding that year. But it was one of those learning experiences for me. So again, there was this sense of wanting to work with people, for people, this intuitive emotional side of me. The music was another thing. When I would sing, I was part of a greater unit that I can't quite explain yet, that taps something beyond me or the human side. So all those emotions were there, and then psych was a way for me to give some parameter to it, some words to it, some explanation. And fortunately enough, there were in that department some personality psychologists that were the softer side of psych then. So I really grew up in the 60's when there were the rat runners and the classical conditioners.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Rat runners and the?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Eye-lid conditioners, the people who would blow puffs of air in your eye. That was classical conditioning, you would say. Which when I studied that, I said this is not what I think psychology is about, of course. And I said no, this is where psychology is going. We're becoming rigorous. We're becoming scientific. Well, being in a probably second or third tier university, those people wanted to model with I think what they thought. But some of the older professors in the department were wait a minute, there's more to this. There was a Father Lawson that ran the Episcopal church around the corner where most of these people of the same ilks of Baptist orientation that I had said wait a minute, this is not what I bought into or this is not what I see of the world. So Father Lawson would entertain a lot of converts down at his church on Sunday evenings, and we'd go down there and have discussions with this guy. Lovely guy. So that plus some of the older professors in the psych department reassured me that maybe there's more to it. This is just a phase. Psychology is going through a phase here and trying to become more scientific. So I had that experience. And then was married -my first marriage in my junior year. So I needed to start bringing in some money and worked my senior year. And finally applied to graduate school. So I decided to go for the master's degree two years at a chunk, because I was trying to be responsible.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
So you would have graduated college '67?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
'68. So I went off and I applied to a couple of graduate programs and was not advised well in that with Stetson and just didn't get into the good schools. But I did get a full scholarship from Wake Forest for their master's degree in psychology. And I went off to Wake Forest. And it was for free, so I was pleased to do that. And my mother was also quite happy it was another Baptist school.
JOSEPH MOSNIER:
Was Wake Forest here then?
STAN GRYSKIEWICZ:
Yes, I was here. It opened the campus here I think in '56 or something like that. So I went off here to the psych department and the same dichotomy I found that there were these two guys that were the new behaviorist learning theorist guys, but there were some wonderful people in that department who thought differently. And I found that they were more clinically oriented just like the ones at Stetson. They were more personality psychologists. They were more well-rounded in their education as well.