The People Project with Kseniya

Interview with Kseniya Kosmina, Brooklyn, NY, USA

You are finishing your graduate degree in Higher Education Administration at Baruch College, City University of New York (CUNY). Are you concerned about going into this field, as Higher Ed is experiencing an unprecedented level of disruption?

Entering the field of Higher Education has been the most serendipitous leap of faith in my life. I attribute it to being part of CUNY and Baruch Honors Program. Both had a tremendous influence on me. Baruch and CUNY provided a community of high achieving peers,enabling me to grow intellectually, and become socially conscious. I am in graduate school at Baruch's Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, and I’m thrilled to work as a graduate assistant for Baruch Honors Program. CUNY provides incredible opportunities to students of every age and background in New York City; it is a diverse and multi-cultural environment emblematic of New York City.

The community you describe stands in stark contrast to the divisive feeling in the country right now. Have you experienced this at school or work?

I'm no stranger to living in a divided nation

CUNY is very diverse and multi-cultural, so there's an intrinsic tolerance for different points of view. I've found that, students - no matter their background, can build a supportive community and find a home. That appeals to my yearning for harmony and unity. However I'm no stranger to living in a divided nation. I was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, which is the closest Eastern city to Russia - only about two hours by train. Ukraine has existed in a perpetual state of conflict with Russia, which has turned into a shooting war within the past eight years. Fortunately, Kharkiv has been spared any destruction. The people's loyalties, however, are more divided than ever. Many have Russian roots and look to Russia for opportunities and support. Many others identify closely with Ukraine, and blame Russia for Ukraine's troubles, lack of opportunities, and poverty.

Ukraine has certainly had its share of change and trouble. What was your childhood like? Do you speak Ukrainian, Russian or both?

there was heavy Russian influence during the time Ukraine was part of the USSR

I had a very