Rene Grzona

Rene Grzona is the graduate assistant for Ohio University’s International Student Union and is pursuing a master’s degree in coaching education.

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OHIO graduate student serves as ‘coach’ for international student groups


Rene Grzona coaches student organizations to be successful on campus at Ohio University, and one day he hopes to coach students to success on the basketball court.

Grzona serves as the graduate assistant for the International Student Union (ISU) at OHIO while he is working toward his master’s degree in coaching education.

His main role as a graduate assistant is to act as a co-advisor for ISU and the internationally focused student organizations that ISU supports. Grzona assists ISU by planning events with Event Services and Catering, while also making sure that the organizations are following university guidelines and regulations. Advising ISU is “similar to coaching, I guide the members of ISU and their student organizations toward reaching their goals,” Grzona said. He added that his favorite parts of his job are being able to work with ISU and interact and learn from students from a multitude of different backgrounds.

Grzona also works closely with Krista McCallum Beatty, director of International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) and the advisor to ISU.

“[Rene’s] background in coaching well prepared him for the role as the graduate assistant for ISU,” McCallum Beatty said. “In addition, because of his previous experience as an international student at OHIO, he understands firsthand the challenges international students face. Rene is doing a great job with ISU and is an important player on the ISFS team. I am enjoying working with him very much.”

An international student from Germany, Grzona earned his bachelor’s degree in American studies from Leipzig University, where he studied U.S. history, society and modern issues. He decided to pursue American studies due to his keen interest in U.S. culture.

From the time that he began his undergraduate studies, he “was just in the right place at the right time,” Grzona said. As an undergraduate student, he attended OHIO for a semester through the Leipzig University exchange program. At OHIO, he met David Carr, associate professor of recreation and sport pedagogy, who would mentor him and support his future goals. 

“I think he appreciated that I was a good student, and one day he asked me if I wanted to pursue my master’s degree here at Ohio University,” Grzona said. He explained that he did want to study at OHIO, but was concerned about the cost of tuition. However, with Carr’s guidance, Grzona was able to look into funding opportunities and ultimately receive his graduate assistantship from ISFS.

“[Carr] gave me a timeline of when I needed to apply to what,” Grzona said, “and when I returned to Leipzig, I followed it perfectly. I’m here thanks to his help.” Carr was, in fact, impressed by Grzona when he was here as an undergraduate.

“Rene Grzona is a remarkable young man with a passion for learning and for sport,” Carr said. “It was a pleasure to have him in class as an undergraduate student, and I am very pleased he has chosen to pursue a graduate degree in coaching education here at Ohio University.”

After he completed his undergraduate semester at OHIO, Grzona spent another semester in the U.S. at the Victory Rock Prep School in Bradenton, Florida. At Victory Rock Prep, students build an academic as well as an athletic foundation in order to become college basketball players after they graduate, and for a semester Grzona was an intern who coached them. It was an experience that shaped his future and solidified his desire to coach basketball.

One of the reasons Grzona decided to return to OHIO for his master’s degree is because of the numerous opportunities the university offers its students.

“My first impression of OU, when I came here as an undergrad, was that there were a lot of hills. But after I got used to them and saw all of the opportunities that OU offers to students, I knew I wanted to come back here,” Grzona said. He added that he was also impressed with the number of academic resources available on campus.

“OU is awesome for studying,” Grzona said, referring to the vast offerings in Alden Library and the many departments on campus doing research. The opportunity for students to gain work experience is also something that Grzona appreciates about OHIO. 

“In Germany, university services are privatized,” he said, “and there aren’t as many jobs available to students.” At OHIO, however, he noticed that students can get jobs in almost every school department. Being able to work and gain experience at the university level was one of the main reasons he wanted to study at OHIO for his master’s degree.

Once he earns his master’s degree, Grzona’s ultimate goal is to become a basketball coach.

“With coaching high school or college basketball, you can have a positive impact on an athlete’s life,” Grzona said. “You don’t have the same type of impact coaching professional basketball.” He appreciates the more personal interaction and relationship with student athletes that coaching high school and college basketball provides.

In his downtime, Grzona likes to attend the many athletics events on campus. He also enjoys watching Netflix, his favorite show being “The Cleveland Show.” His favorite hobby is to ride a bicycle around town.

“I love to just go for long rides and relax that way,” he said.

For more information on ISU and their events, please visit www.ohio.edu/orgs/isu.