Sydney Blitchok initially chose the University of Iowa because of soccer, but she quickly discovered Iowa’s stellar journalism and political science programs.
Sydney Blitchok

Degree: BA in journalism with honors, BA in political science, university honors with highest distinction

Hometown: Grandville, Michigan

Future plans: Studying to take the LSAT and applying to law schools or grad schools.

When Sydney Blitchok visited the University of Iowa the summer before her junior year, the high school soccer standout and Hawkeye recruit was mostly thinking about the athletics facilities. 

“I was visiting different schools and figuring out which conference I wanted to play in,” Blitchok says. “I didn’t know what to expect when I came to Iowa, but my parents and I just really liked it. The athletics facilities played a part, obviously, but it was such a nice college town. Seeing the Pentacrest and how close campus and the city are is what I liked initially.”

As she looks back on her studies, Blitchok says she has been impressed with the interesting and varied material she’s been able to cover. She is currently working with Stephen Bloom in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication on her honors project tracing the transition of the fraternal association Knights of Columbus into an activist organization on the front lines in fighting to overturn Roe v. Wade. She also is assisting Brian Lai in the Department of Political Science with his research on women in combat in civil wars around the world.

While the Grandville, Michigan, native discovered Iowa through athletics, she found success on and off the soccer field. A month after Blitchok and the Hawkeye soccer team made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013, Blitchok will graduate with a BA in journalism with honors, a BA in political science, and university honors with highest distinction.

“One reason I liked getting these degrees at Iowa is because you have so much access to the political process,” Blitchok says. “That’s so different for me, coming from Michigan. I was able to interview Marianne Williamson and walk out of my apartment and see Pete Buttigieg speak. You can’t do that on other campuses outside of Iowa.”

Two outstanding programs

The University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication prepares students for dynamic careers in many traditional and new fields—working in media or other industries and as entrepreneurs. The school has produced thousands of distinguished graduates, and some have gone on to win Pulitzer Prizes, Peabody Awards, and Emmy Awards.

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The Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa is a leader in the discipline. Whether the topic is Iowa politics, the U.S. government, the governments of myriad foreign countries, or the international system, Iowa students have access to acknowledged experts in their field. These scholars are frequently called upon to interpret political developments for the media, address community groups, and advise government bodies.

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“I’ve also done a lot of stories and reporting about the abortion debate within Iowa,” Blitchok says. “I happened to be here at a really interesting time, and in a place where there is so much political activity occurring all the time.”

Bloom says he has been impressed with Blitchok’s skills as a researcher, interviewer, and writer, both in his classes and her work on her honors project.

“To research the project, Sydney has gone to countless meetings and protests and in the process, has interviewed dozens of key sources, including the archivist at the Knights of Columbus national headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut,” Bloom says. “Sydney really has the zest and drive to tell this important, untold story.”

Outside of class and her research, Blitchok participated in ISAAC, a student-athlete leadership group that acts as the voice of student-athletes within the athletics department, campus, Big Ten, and NCAA. In her role as a soccer representative, she helped plan programs and events such as the Golden Herkys award show. She also spent time volunteering over the years with her soccer teammates and a summer as a communications intern for the Iowa Informatics Initiative.

“One reason I liked getting these degrees at Iowa is because you have so much access to the political process. I was able to interview Marianne Williamson, and walk out of my apartment and see Pete Buttigieg speak. You can’t do that on other campuses outside of Iowa.”

Sydney Blitchok
University of Iowa student graduating with degrees in journalism and political science

Blitchok encourages students to get involved while in school.

“There are so many resources on campus, resources I probably don’t even know about,” Blitchok says. “Getting involved in things that interest you is always a good idea, not only to meet people and make friends, but you never know what connections you’re going to make here.”

Following graduation, Bitchok plans to take time to study for the LSAT and apply to law schools, with a potential eye toward eventually joining the U.S. Army JAG Corps. She’s also considering other graduate programs, such as finance or management. Blitchok credits faculty members, coaches, and academic advisers for helping keep her on track while at Iowa, as well as offering advice and preparing her for whatever might come next.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been doing school and soccer,” Blitchok says. “Now that that’s ending, I’m trying to determine what my next chapter is. But I know that I’m going to be well-prepared, whatever that next step is.”

Produced by the University of Iowa Office of Strategic Communication
Emily Nelson
Tim Schoon and Brian Ray