Rita Akstinavičiūtė is a Senior student from Lithuania, majoring in Psychology at LCC International University. She is imbued with uniqueness, as reflected in her experiences as an Assistant in the Klaipėda Sea Museum and a local paramedic. Rita’s journey at LCC started in 2017 and will continue in new ways for the future.
Although as a girl, she grew up in Klaipėda and even studied in a high school across the street from the LCC campus, her life had nothing to do with the university until an open door event for high school students. Rita admits that although she at first didn’t expect to be studying at LCC, she was nevertheless excited about the cultural diversity and liberal arts curriculum. As a high school student, she read stories about the LCC community that grabbed her attention.
Interestingly enough, Rita's road to LCC was not so straightforward. This senior shares that she’s been interested in medicine since an early age. As a high school graduate, she first enrolled in a medical school. However, she began doubting if she truly wanted to stay in the medical field, and dropped out of medical school after the first year.
Afterwards, Rita received an email from LCC Admissions, and decided to pursue a degree in Psychology in LCC International University - a place that had held her attention for a long time. She recalls the decision with a laugh. She had previously believed that you would have to be insane to study psychology, and yet here she was, about to study psychology. But even better, she found out that all those stories about LCC she had read were true. As soon as the First Year Seminar began, Rita realized the strength of community and human interaction at this university.
A description of Rita’s life would be incomplete without any mention of ambulances. The interest arose while in high school, and she spent over a year in paramedic training; and then another year as a paramedic volunteer while in medical school. Work in an ambulance can never be predicted, Rita says. It’s chaotic. It’s brutal. It’s also honest. A lot of paramedic work is psychological: calming down the injured victims or weeping relatives if the victim is in critical condition. These moments reveal honesty, people expressing their purest love and their deepest regrets. Either saving a life or failing to do so changes you, she claims. You can no longer take things for granted and live the life the way you used to.
On a lighter note, she spent six years at one of the must-see sites in Klaipėda - the Sea Museum, situated at the Curonian Spit. She volunteered there as a teenager, and later got employed there. "Other people walk or drive to work - I had to take a ferry," Rita smiles. Walking the penguins or playing ball with the dolphins shows the magic of the underwater animal kingdom. Rita shares how animals have different personalities. For instance, one particular penguin is quite social and always willing to meet new people. Being with him felt like being with a small human, she says. She adds how animals are similar to us: they seek companionship, they greet you when they recognize your face, they can get bored or sometimes curious. Animals also want to feel loved and they don’t shy away from spreading the love too. For example, dolphin therapy exists in the Klaipėda Delphinarium, although Rita admits she doesn’t have experience in the field, but will maybe sometime in the future.
When asked about the impending graduation, the senior’s eyes become shaded with regret. Due to the quarantine, she hasn’t seen some of her international friends for a year. If that wasn’t bad enough, Rita isn’t happy about the possibility of remote thesis defense and graduation. Not having to shiver in front of the professors, that’s not how things should be for a university student. What is a mask and social distancing compared with a once in a lifetime event?
After graduation, the soon-to-be alumna wants to take life step by step as it unfolds. For now, she plans to pursue her hobbies and perhaps work as a 911 emergency dispatcher.
LCC gave Rita, as a Psychology major, an opportunity to experience other worldviews as well as cultures. She has been inspired especially by all the students who come from war-torn countries, and yet still manage to achieve their dreams, or even more - help others. We all have this ability.
In the future Rita would like to explore the expansive and varied world - a journey which started here, at LCC International University.