Q&A: Volunteering junkie Juliana Pernik

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Juliana Pernik describes herself as a volunteer junkie - and her sickness is contagious. The founder of Columbus Gives Back organizes volunteer events for young professionals that combine community-building with socializing. As her organization celebrates its second anniversary March 24, Pernik talked more about her passion for Columbus, community and candy.

I was working out in St. Louis, and I wanted to be closer to my family . They're still in Dayton. I always kind of wanted to live in Columbus. It was a really fun city growing up. I started applying for jobs at Ohio State.

A lot of why I like Columbus is because I really came into my own here. I moved out here, and I didn't know anybody. I was like, "All right. Let's see what I can do." That's what's made it fun - being forced to explore and do things I hadn't done before and do things by myself.

I'm the kind of person who is kind of interested in everything.

I've volunteered all my life. I was really involved in a group when I was in high school, and it was kind of half social and half volunteering. When I graduated college, I was looking for more similar opportunities. I thought it'd be fun to do something like that in Columbus, focused on Columbus.

I wanted to meet people, and I wanted to volunteer. I didn't really have time to do both in separate activities, so I said, "Let's combine the two. Let's be efficient." I've always been kind of a joiner of organizations. I really like being a member of things. Volunteering is a really easy way of making friends and contacts.

Three things I can't live without are candy, running shoes and something to write with.

If I get some spare time, I like to cheer on the Blue Jackets. I like running and just being outside exploring. Columbus and Ohio in general have a lot of good outdoor spaces. I like going to meet-ups and meeting new people.

The best advice I' ve ever received is to be who you are.

Something that people might not know about me is that I was Woman No. 4 in my high school play. This was a promotion from my first role as "woman in crowd." Also, I ran the Boston Marathon and yelled at the strangers cheering, "You're almost there." Because, let's face it, I wasn't.

Know someone doing cool things around Columbus? E-mail John Ross at jross@columbusalive.com.

Name: Juliana Pernik

Age: 27

Day job: Fiscal and human-resources officer, Ohio State University Department of Geography

Neighborhood: Clintonville

Hometown: Dayton


Last Words

Last thing you bought: A MacBook

Last thing you gave away: My clubbing clothes from college

Last song you listened to: "Dance Yrself Clean" by LCD Soundsystem

Last great meal you ate: Stack of blueberry pancakes on Valentine's Day

Last place you traveled: The Bahamas