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After War Drives a Young Woman from Her Country, She Restarts Her Life at NOVA

After War Drives a Young Woman from Her Country, She Restarts Her Life at NOVA

Sofiya Dengub was not sure about attending college in America after having to leave Ukraine abruptly. But now, at NOVA, she is finding some comfort and peace.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background:
I am a Ukrainian refugee and spent all of my life in Kyiv (formally known as Kiev).  Half a year ago, my life changed. As everyone knows, Russia invaded my country. I had to run away with my mother. We stayed three months in Poland, and then we were given the opportunity to come to the United States.

Right now, it’s my duty to share Ukrainian stories. I feel like I am a part of the big Ukrainian nation. I don’t see myself as just one individual, so everything I see and hear about Ukraine, I feel it.

I want to share my experience, knowledge and culture and look forward to using this to make a giant impact in teaching and showing people that we need to have compassion to each other. And that even though all the people and nations are different, we live in one world.

I am very happy how my family and friends support me. I was concerned initially that my friends and family in Ukraine may blame me for being able to go back to school in America. However, they have wished me the best.

I love to dance. It is a way for me to express my emotions and my thoughts. I am hoping to continue this hobby and work in this area in the future.

What brought you to NOVA?
My mother’s sister is based in the area.

What are you studying at NOVA?
It is hard to plan your future when you don’t know what is going to happen next. I am worried about my family and my home. I am hoping that everything is okay. I hope that after I finish my education here, I can go home and help my country rebuild.

My major here is business. In Ukraine, I finished my first year at Ukrainian American Concordia University. After two years at NOVA, I hope to transfer to George Mason to finish my bachelor’s degree and to work in the business area, probably in HR. Right now, I am working on scholarships and grants. I am still thinking about what exactly I will do.

Tell Us About Your Experience at NOVA, i.e., professors you’ve liked and friends you’ve met.
Professor Lucy Holsonbake presented some of us in class with this great opportunity to give speeches at the One Diverse Industry Conference. I had never been to New York, so it was a great time to make memories.  

What would you tell a student coming to NOVA?
So, for me, American education, I was initially worried about it, but the teachers here are very friendly and very open-hearted. I feel so calm in the classes. I am not afraid to smile and joke. Everyone here is very nice and open, and you can ask whatever question you want. I am sure that if you need support here, you will get it from everyone.

This place feels comfortable. I think NOVA is a place for everyone to try and find themselves, no matter your age, where you’re from, or your background story or situation. It’s a great place to restart your life.

Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) is the largest public institution of higher learning in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls nearly 80,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield (Medical Education Campus) and Woodbridge, through NOVA Online and high school dual enrollment. We offer more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs to help our students reach their academic and professional goals through university transfers and access to the most in-demand careers. At NOVA, we strive to ensure that every student succeeds, every program achieves and every community prospers. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, visit our website, www.nvcc.eduor call 703.323.3000.