Vladyslava comes from Ukraine. Originally, she grew up in the eastern part of Ukraine, in the city of Donetsk. Due to the political tensions there, she and her family were displaced and had to move to Ivano-Frankivsk in the western region of Ukraine. At the time, Vladyslava was just a teenager and had to start a new school and find new friends. With this move, she and her family faced much discrimination due to the stereotypes in Ukraine. Vlada shared how back then, her parents were even having a hard time even finding an apartment. She also faced rather funny situations, where children at school thought that she managed to learn the Ukrainian language in a day! Many Ukrainians from Eastern Ukraine speak more Russian than Ukrainian.
She came to LCC in the Fall of 2018 and is one of LCC’s graduating students who had a chance to experience LCC in full capacity for a full academic year before the pandemic started. She first heard about LCC from two admissions counselors who stopped by her school in Ivano-Frankivsk. They made a presentation about LCC, and later two of Vlada’s teachers encouraged her to apply. So, the next day Vlada took the TOEFL test and applied to LCC.
She shared that because LCC provided her with financial aid, she was able to apply and come to study here. The Admissions presentation was intriguing and so appealing to her. Unlike many of the students wanting to study something specific like Creative Writing or Journalism, Vlada was more interested to study the broader subject of Contemporary Communication.
Vlada jokes that after all the difficulties that she and her family faced after moving to western Ukraine, moving to Lithuania was like a piece of cake. “After everything I have gone through, Lithuania seemed like paradise.” Laughing, she says that even though she needed to adapt, try new food, meet a lot of people, and find new friends, this experience was exciting, and compared to her previous experience, was much easier to move to Lithuania. The transition to Lithuania and life on campus was a lot of fun. Vlada shares that she and her friends loved adding Lithuanian endings to Russian words. “We thought we were being so Lithuanian by doing so.” She adds that her favorite part about her freshman year was living in a six-people room. She laughs, saying, “It felt like a camp. I had only been to a camp twice, so this seemed like a long camp.” Vlada also enjoyed FYS class because she met her best friends there. “Shout out to Gabrieliukas (aka Gabrielė). We’ve had so much fun together.”
In addition to being a full-time student at LCC, Vlada participates in many additional activities. She is a fellow of the Millennium Fellowship at United Nations Academic Impact and Millennium Campus Network (MCN). Her initial project ended last semester, but she decided to continue her podcast, Vlada’s Talk Show, even this semester. When asked why she decided to continue the project, she said, “People asked me to!” After the first season was over, she was asked if she would continue, so it seemed natural to continue it.
Initially, she found out about the Millennium Fellowship program on a website. She has visited many similar sites but found Millennium Fellowship advertised on Opportunity Desk, which is in English. At first, she did not know what it was, but she applied for it. The organizers contacted her, informing her that it was a campus project, and she needed to find additional participants from the same university to do either one project together or individual projects. So, she started to look for more people and found a total of a group of 9 students from 7 different countries. It is a semester-long fellowship where the selected participants get to build on their skills and have sessions with campus directors to learn about different aspects of leadership.
During this program, they participated in events and heard various Fellowship Alumni share their experiences. Vlada was fascinated to hear the stories of individuals working at the UN, or about the Millennium Fellow alumni who had started with a semester-long project and later turned their project into a company or an NGO. Additionally, Vlada had a chance to work closely with the Millennium Campus Network. One of the activities she got to do was help organize their graduation party. It was a great opportunity for her to better get to know those working in the Network and connect to them personally. Vlada said, “They were so supportive. They are just such wonderful people. They are all so precious to me.”
When it comes to the creation of Vlada’s Talk Show, she says that the idea was pitched by other people. When she was a freshman, others kept telling her she would be a great host and that she should start a talk show. At first, she got inspired by these encouraging words, but because of the pandemic, she had forgotten about this initiative. When it was time for her Millennium Fellowship project, she chose to start the podcast, Vlada’s Talk Show, because of those previous encouragements.
In the show, she would invite people who are either a part of an organization or had been in the past – someone who can share what they went through and invite the youth to try it out as well. “The show aims to get people more familiar with all kinds of different things that they can do. I think that some of the volunteering things that I have done are fun and useful. The whole objective is to get people more familiar with things that they can try, especially the ones that are online and available there.”
Besides the fact that her viewers were asking for the second season, another reason why Vlada wanted to continue the show was that she had more ideas on what the show could offer. She says, “There is so much more. There are so many people that pursue something in different fields who could talk about their experiences, and then hopefully other people would find out about them too.”
From where she started and how the show looks now, Vlada says that it does not seem like it has changed that much, yet she jokes that she does hope that she has learned how to ask her guests better questions. She believes she has learned to ask the questions in such a way that they can tell their story and relate their experiences to the topic, not just reciting a mechanical interview.
Besides the Millennium Fellowship and Vlada’s Talk Show, she is the Chief of Academics for the Student Conference in Japan. Last year she was introduced to this conference where she was a participant at the table about political participation. At the conference, along with other participants, she was writing a policy proposal, which required prior research. But for now and after graduation, she will be quite busy with it this summer because she is no longer just a participant but now, an organizer.
In her senior year, Vlada is one of the students from her cohort who started together at LCC and had a full academic year of the in-person LCC experience before the pandemic started. “Although I never thought that this was how it would go, luckily from the age of 13, I have had many opportunities to learn how to adapt. You have to be flexible as things happen. So, when the online studies started, I tried to make the best out of it. I was trying to keep up with things and enjoy the classes. Professors were trying to make it more interesting, they were trying to be funny with technology and commenting during the activities, which kept us engaged.” Remote learning felt unusual to her at first. When LCC decided to spend the rest of the semester online, Vlada shares that it felt weird. “Everyone suddenly was online instead of in the classroom, so it was weird. We still got tests and people were still doing the presentations, it was just online.” The Fall of 2020, on the other hand, was the time when Vlada felt the most change in the classes. Because of the quarter system and the fact that she was a remote student, it was much different than it had been in the Spring of 2020.
Before the remote learning, the students were already using Moodle, a teaching platform online, but the classes would happen in person. And during the pandemic, everything moved to the online platform, such as MS Teams, which took some time to learn how to use.
She has been back in Ukraine since the Spring of 2020, and Vlada says that she misses her friends. One of the memories that Vlada shares is “I miss having birthday parties. My birthday is in the Fall, so we would always celebrate it in the residence halls. We would have cake and some fun, so I miss that.” She hopes to come back in the spring for the graduation but most importantly, to meet with her friends once again.
At LCC Vlada has truly enjoyed the classes she has taken as a Contemporary Communication major. One of her favorite classes was Media Writing. Also, because LCC is a liberal arts university, Vlada had a chance to take some business classes, like Digital Marketing, which she considers useful.
When it comes to the best piece of advice Vlada has been given, she jokes by saying “that it is such a cliché. I am not sure who has given me this advice, but it is something I find useful – you know, one door closes, and the other one opens up. If you missed out on one opportunity, there is something else that is going to happen.” She is quite open about her future plans.
Also, she thinks she could possibly see herself as a professor at a university but does not have a particular subject in mind to teach.
In her free time, Vlada loves to watch movies. She is a big Marvel movie fan. She also likes to take pictures and make graphics out of them to post on her Instagram.
Finally, for the 30th anniversary, Vlada wishes LCC growth as a community and as a university.
Listen to the latest Vlada's podcast here.
Photos are taken from Vlada's personal archive.
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