Intern inspired by Ukrainian heritage

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 7/30/17

Anastasiya Titarenko has been interning in Jasper over the summer to eventually prepare her for a career in education.

Titarenko’s internship was made possible through the University of Alabama’s New College and Honors College, along with the …

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Intern inspired by Ukrainian heritage

Posted

Anastasiya Titarenko has been interning in Jasper over the summer to eventually prepare her for a career in education.

Titarenko’s internship was made possible through the University of Alabama’s New College and Honors College, along with the Walker Area Community Foundation and the David Mathews Center for Civic Life.

Before attending UA to major in religious studies and minor in educational studies, her journey began in Rochester, New York. Titarenko’s parents immigrated to the United States in 1995, prior to her birth in 1996.

“I grew up in a very tight-knit Ukrainian community up there,” Titarenko said. “I was just very privileged to have a place where my culture was able to survive in a new place. It did come with its challenges, in that I didn’t really hear a lot of English until I got into school. ... I absolutely loved being able to go to a Ukrainian church, and I did Ukrainian folk dancing. A lot of cultural things are maintained up there still to this day.

“It was challenging for my family when they first came to the U.S., but with the combination of their hard work and the support that they got from the government in their first couple of years in the state, and support from other people in the community, they were able to really be lifted up and thrive. They put a down payment on a house before I went to kindergarten, and now we’re just a typical middle class family. It is remarkable to think that 21 years ago they came with almost nothing, $5 in their pocket, and just a community that was ready to take them under their wing and help them.”

Years later, her dad’s work eventually landed them in Atlanta, Ga. After graduating high school in Georgia, Titarenko began a University Fellows Experience at UA, where she had received a citizenship scholarship.

She has traveled abroad during her three years of college, and applied to be an intern in Walker County during her time in New Zealand.

Titarenko has spent her summer at the Jasper Area Family Services Center, where she designed their new website and a Facebook page. She also helped identify the needs of children in Walker County by preparing the Walker County Children’s Policy Council Needs Assessment.

“Professionally, I think what I learned the most was the importance of effective collaboration, because this county is a really special example — Jasper in particular — is a special example of so many people who want to see their communities thrive,” she said. “Being able to get together and sit around the table and learn how to brainstorm, how to use the resources that everybody has available to serve the community best, is something I’ve seen happen here, and that’s not the norm, I don’t think in a lot places, to want to have that many people who are ready to try to make a change.”

While in Jasper, she said she enjoyed visiting the Walker County Lake, attending community hosted dinners and taking part in Warehouse 319’s Trivia Night. She said the intern team from UA won the trivia night a couple of times.

Titarenko is headed back to UA to finish her senior year, and she has been accepted into the Teach For America program.

“Hopefully next summer I will be getting trained, starting a master’s program and starting to teach English as a second language in Buffalo, New York,” she said. “I’ll be closer to home for a little while, but I really love Alabama. I love it a lot. We’ll see what happens. After I get my master’s I may be coming back down here.”