For Wayne State junior sabre Pati Palczynska, her fencing journey began at the age of nine in Poland. After a neighbor quickly picked up the sport, Palczynska's dad wanted her to give it a shot.
"My dad decided that if my neighbor can do it, then I could do the same," said Palczynska. "So my dad took me for my first fencing practice in my city in Poland, and that's how it started."
Accomplishments like winning the Polish Championship and competing at the European and World Championships helped set Palcyznska on her current path.
"In that time, I realized that [fencing] is a pretty good sport for me and that I can be good in this," she said.
After Warriors fencing coach Jerzy Radz sold her on coming to Wayne State, Palczynska joined the team in January 2016.
After narrowly missing an automatic qualifying spot to the NCAA Championship earlier this month, she said that her roommates took her out for the day to take her mind off waiting to see if she would pick up an at-large bid.
"I remember that I was skiing and my coach called me and he goes, 'Hey Pati, you qualified [for Nationals],'" said Palczynska.
A nutrition and food science majors, she wants to work with athletes and become a dietitian after graduation.
"I decided that it's a really good way to connect with sports [because] that's what I want to do in my life," said Palczynska. "[Majoring in] nutrition and food science gave me this opportunity to do something I like and do my job and connect those two things."
Last fall, Palczynska was one of 32 WSU athletes who finished with a 4.0 GPA, according to WSU Athletics. She added that a lighter competition schedule coupled with extra time to study helped her reach that mark.
"Fall semester is pretty easier [for fencers] that's why I had this 4.0 in Fall semester because we only had two competitions [during] the Fall semester, compared to this Winter semester when we had at least seven or eight competitions," Palczynska said. "It's totally different."
While Palczynska appreciates Wayne State's proximity to the city of Hamtramck and its array of authentic Polish restaurants, she said that because she may not stay in the U.S. forever, she chooses to eat in American spots.
"I prefer to choose American restaurants because who knows, maybe in the future I wouldn't have the opportunity to try American [food] again, so that's why I prefer to stay in American spots for now," said Palczynska.
One of the biggest improvements she's made in her time at Wayne State is becoming more social.
"When I came here I feel like I was a scared person about everything, about my language, my contact with other people and I wasn't [as] social as I am right now," she said. "I feel [that] I'm getting more brave and [things] aren't that hard for me and tough for me like they were two years ago."
Palczynska added that the best part about fencing at Wayne State is being around her teammates and being a member of the team.
"Here at Wayne State, you feel like you're really together with other people and you're creating something bigger than just a team," Palczynska said. "I feel like most of my contact here with my teammates, they will be for longer than just a college period."