Dates at the dentist are rarely exciting. But an unlikely find during a recent dental cleaning made 2nd Lt. Jennifer Szatkowski’s jaw drop.
As Szatkowski, H Sci ’11, settled into the dental chair at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, some office art caught her eye. The Air Force officer spent the appointment staring at a patriotically adorned brown lunch bag hanging on the wall. It was decorated by a child and looked oddly familiar. Szatkowski recognized a few innocent inaccuracies, like blue stars and a slight stripe overlap. The tipping point was seeing the artist’s name, “Jennifer,” in her own unmistakable penmanship.
“I still write like that,” she laughs.
Turns out, Szatkowski decorated that lunch bag more than a decade ago — long before she was a commissioned officer. It was part of a class project assigned at St. Agnes Catholic School in Butler, Wis., some 800 miles away from Walter Reed, as part of a nationwide project to thank military personnel for their service.
Somehow, the lunch bag landed on that wall. A stunned Szatkowski quickly snapped and sent pictures home, and her dad confirmed that the bag, still in “pristine condition,” was definitely the work of his daughter.
“It’s one of those things that you read about and hear about happening to people but never think it’ll happen to you,” Szatkowski says of her blast from the past. “I was talking to my fiancé about it, and he said it was a sign from God telling me I took the right path,” she says. “I’m in the military now, and I made this art project years ago honoring the military.” — JB