WILLISTON, N.D. – When former Bison football player Scott Stoczynski learned that he’d be stationed in Williston with the North Dakota Highway Patrol, he joked with his sister that she should join him.
Angela Stoczynski, two years older than her brother, had been struggling to find a teaching job in the family’s home state of Illinois.
“I jokingly said one day, ‘I’m going out to Williston. I’m sure Williston’s hiring,’” said Scott, 25, a December 2011 North Dakota State University graduate.
Angela, 27, took her brother’s comment seriously, and landed a job at Williston Middle School.
“They need teachers out here, so why not go where the jobs are needed?” said Angela, who teaches seventh-grade math.
The brother and sister from the Chicago suburbs are now in their second year of working in Williston and gaining experience in their fields.
Scott, whose final game with the Bison was winning the FCS Championship in 2012, was recruited to play football for NDSU. While earning his criminal justice degree, Scott fell in love with North Dakota and decided to stay in the state for his first job.
“There really aren’t any jobs to be had in Illinois right now,” Scott said. “It was just kind of a no-brainer to stay up here and go where the jobs are.”
Angela and other family members traveled to North Dakota to watch football games, but she had never thought about moving to the state. But after graduating from Eastern Illinois University, Angela was working as a substitute teacher and later as a teacher’s aide while competing with 200 other teachers for every job opening.
“It just wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to be a teacher with my own classroom,” Angela said. “The market is just really competitive.”
Angela was nervous to move 1,000 miles away from home, but knowing her brother would be in Williston added some comfort.
“It made the transition a little less scary,” she said.
Angela ended up being the first sibling to move to Williston in August 2012 while Scott finished training and joined her a month later. Angela rents an apartment from the school district and rooms with another teacher while Scott has an affordable apartment the Highway Patrol helped him secure.
Angela also coaches high school volleyball and middle school track and Scott helps out with seventh-grade football.
Scott said working as a new officer in Williston is giving him great experience, and he’s proud of his sister for breaking out of her comfort zone to pursue her career.
“She’s always wanted to be a teacher. It’s all she ever talked about. You can just see the passion she has for it and the joy she gets out of it,” Scott said. “She knew she had to be teaching and she just had to branch out and go do it.”