Student Government to City Administrator
When Adam Owczarzak got involved in OCC’s Student Government, little did he know that experience would lead him on an unexpected career path and a job as Assistant to the City Manager in Madison Heights just a few years later.
Owczarzak learned about Student Government in Jeff Farah’s political science class and ended up serving as public relations chair. Owczarzak also became part of the extraordinary student team that finished in the national top 10 college campus competition called “Up to Us.”
That competition gave Owczarzak his first taste of advocating for public policy change.
Owczarzak and his classmates were tasked with raising awareness about America’s fiscal challenges. To accomplish this, the OCC team filled balloons with money and released them outside the Auburn Hills campus student center. The free money caught the attention of students and resulted in more than 500 students across all OCC campuses signing a pledge to become more aware about our country’s national debt and gained greater understanding about how students' economic futures could be affected.
“OCC is what you make of it,” said Owczarzak, who received an Associate Degree in General Studies and an Associate Degree in Business Administration in 2017. “A lot is offered at OCC and, if you take advantage of the opportunities, a lot can be gained.”
The 24-year OCC grad transferred to Oakland University (OU) and went on to earn a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Public Administration and a minor in Communications. While at OU, Owczarzak continued his public policy advocacy and became involved with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Student Chapter, serving as president 2019-2021.
He gained additional knowledge about local government through internships at the Huntington Woods City Manager’s Office and the Oakland County Elections Division. He also worked for the City of Troy as a building supervisor and office assistant in the Clerk’s Office.
Eight months into the pandemic, Owczarzak received a graduate management fellow internship
at Madison Heights in November 2020 and within four months was promoted to Assistant
to the City Manager. During the internship, he completed two impressive projects as
a project manager: one entailed constructing a children’s play area with seating for
parents at the library and enhancing the building with a variety of paintings. The
other: a neighborhood enhancement program funded through the Michigan State Housing
Development Authority rehabilitating four homes for low-income residents.
“In my opinion, public service is the best way to give back and impact people’s lives. Even small things day to day can help change someone’s life,” shared Owczarzak.
OCC Financial Aid Officer Jessica Lizardi, who served as the College’s Student Government co-advisor with Farrah, said she is proud of Owczarzak’s accomplishments. She describes him as an "astute team player with a strong dedication to diversity and inclusion.”
According to Lizardi, one of the projects Owczarzak led was a student leadership survey, which was developed and administered on Survey Monkey. The survey was provided to OCC’s Board of Trustees and was used to help gauge the student pulse and impact initiatives for the coming year.
“It was such a forward-thinking project at the time, and we were so excited to collect and use the results,” she said. “Adam also led the group’s efforts for the PJs for Patrick event, which raised scholarship funds for suicide awareness and helped the Patrick R. Baldwin memorial scholarship reach endowment status.”
“I believe Adam will do great things in his future, and I am honored to have been a small part of his journey,” she added. “We all are.”
For more information about OCC's Student Government visit our OCC's Student Government.