Crystal Gwizdala is the new assistant editor of Catalyst Midland. Crystal also works full time as a contractor for Kelly Services on Corteva Agrisciences’s learning team. Prior to working for Catalyst, she worked a variety of jobs in the region, including a mental health technician, lab analyst, and tutor.
The Auburn native is a graduate of Bay City Western High School and Saginaw Valley State University, earning two bachelor’s degrees — one in psychology and one in biology. She lives in Bay City with her husband, Chris Mrozinski, and their cat, Grenzo.
I had the opportunity to interview Crystal last weekend:
Q: Why do you live in the Great Lakes Bay Region?
This is where I grew up, in Auburn. I got my first job at Shari’s at the Willard Hillton in 2009 — a restaurant that’s no longer open — and I was often invited to help with caterings in the region. I remember going to a few caterings at the Midland Center for the Arts and seeing how glitzy everything was. When I moved on from the restaurant, I started working as a co-op at Dow Chemical in their toxicology group.
Since then, it feels like I’ve been tied to Midland, despite living in Bay CIty. My mom and I love to attend shows at the Midland Center for the Arts and have dinner together in the city. I love the nature: Dow Gardens, Whiting Forest and the Midland City Forest. Plus the small business community there is great.
Q: Why did you choose this career?
After getting rejected from graduate schools, I had what I like to call a mid-20s crisis. I totally switched paths. I originally thought about pursuing a PhD and getting into research, but realized my heart wasn’t in it. What I really like is learning about things. With science, there’s curiosity, but you’re often stuck in a super-specific niche. With journalism, you can learn about everything you want.
I started at Delta College, studying to get a certificate in technical writing. I was covertly studying journalism and I started writing for The Delta Collegiate and working there as an editor. I’m now in a master’s program at Johns Hopkins for science writing, which has been meeting virtually since before the pandemic. It’s a really good fit.
Q: What are you most excited about in your current role as assistant editor?
I’m most excited to serve my community with good journalism. What I love about Catalyst Midland is that this publication is rooted in solutions-based journalism. So rather than focusing on the problems, we’re going to talk with change-makers about the solutions that they’re bringing to the community.
Q: What book are you reading?
I’m just about to start “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, a contributing editor at Popular Science magazine. It’s about a woman who was a poor black tobacco farmer, whose cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951. They became one of the most important tools in medicine; they were vital tools for the development of the polio vaccine and gene mapping. Her cells were bought and sold for billions of dollars but her family hasn’t benefited from that. It raises many ethical questions.