“In order to get a good education in Russia, you need to have a lot of money, which my family never had. In the United States, you can be a hardworking, honest employee and make a good living. In Russia, you can scarcely make a living if you work honestly and pay all taxes,” said Yelena, an A-B Tech Associate in Science degree student.
Yelena spoke about her childhood in Russia under Communist Party rule at the A-B Tech Foundation Scholarship luncheon March 11. She is a recipient of the Adelaide Key Scholarship.
Yelena said her parents were not allowed to continue their education after high school because they did not belong to the Communist Party. “I remember those days, when we prayed for food and would find several rubles on the street, which helped us to buy bread,” she said.
Even though law changed and Yelena was allowed to attend college, money was still an obstacle. “As far as education is concerned, neither financial aid nor a loan system is available,” she said. Believing she would never go to college, Yelena found everything changed when she had the opportunity to move to the United States.
As soon as she arrived, she started work in a factory and found A-B Tech. Having an interest in the medical field, she enrolled in the Surgical Technology program in 2003. “I will confess it was very challenging for me with my poor English to get through the program. Almost every night, I read my books with a dictionary till early morning. Sometimes, I just sat and cried with a book in my hands,” she said.
Yelena’s perseverance paid off. She graduated with her diploma in August 2004, and landed a job in her field at a local hospital. “I enjoyed working in the operating room and helping other people, but I wanted to expand my limited medical knowledge,” she said.
Yelena decided to come back to A-B Tech to complete an associate’s degree, then transfer to earn a bachelor’s degree and prepare herself for pharmacy school.
“You help us to find our career path and a place in this big world. I hope that one day we will be able to help someone else in our turn,” she said as she thanked Adelaide Key, a community volunteer, philanthropist and former member of the A-B Tech Foundation Board of Directors, for her scholarship.
Foundation Board Chair Nancy Miller announced the following new endowments and scholarships at A-B Tech: an anonymous gift of $30,000 to endow Dental scholarships; the Bill and Alice Hart Endowment Scholarship; the Jennifer and Jason Hill Annual Scholarship; the Mike and Martha Cochran Memorial Scholarship and the Yesterday’s Tree Endowment.