– Your name is essential. Please, do not let people mispronounce it. Teach everybody how to pronounce your name correctly. Your parents gave you your name for a reason. It meant something to them. It means something to you. It should be meaningful for those around you. Do not give up. Teach us. It is important for your success. Your success is important to us. You are going to be successful! – all of my classmates listen to the words of our dean very attentively, each thinking our own thoughts, remembering our home far, far away, somewhere across the ocean, one or another.
We all are here to succeed. There’s no plan B. No retreat. No turning back. This country gives us a chance, an opportunity. This country is called a land of opportunities. Everybody can succeed here. That is what we all want to believe, and what a relief to hear from our dean that he wants us to succeed. What a blessing to have such support from day one. Back in 1991, in post-Soviet Ukraine, the first words of the computer engineering department’s dean were drastically different: “There is no place for girls in my department.” Nevertheless, I successfully passed my entry test, with no bribes whatsoever, and was determined to succeed. I did succeed, but it was more like against all odds.
In post-Soviet Ukraine, higher education became some kind of an “F” word, and not from the “Future” to be clear, a world of ridicule, a useless word. Highly educated people had to leave their jobs in research & go to the market, selling imported clothes. What a pleasant surprise for me now to discover that my degree is valuable, that my hard work was not in vain, and that here in the US, I am respected for my achievements in education. My education is meaningful here as well as my name. I am no longer Nadya, but Nadiia – with double “i”s & with the emphasis on the first one. I will be very patient & persistent in teaching my new American friends how to pronounce it correctly. It does have a meaning in the beautiful language of my motherland Ukraine: Hope, and I need it very much. All of us need it!