Full of energy and very talkative, one would never guess that senior communication student Veronika Patrashko started learning English as a freshman in high school. Her family moved from Ukraine almost seven years ago to give her and her two older brothers a better education. The transition didn’t come easy, but it taught Patrashko to overcome difficulties.
“My first year here not knowing English was somewhat depressing,” Patrashko said. “At a certain point I just made the decision that I was not going to let this get me down. I’m going to move forward, learn English, and just keep going.”
Patrashko started in ESL classes when she got to the states, but pulled herself out after the first year because all of the students were speaking their native languages, making it difficult to learn English. She said it was the best decision she’s ever made, and her junior year she began attending the Running Start program at Bellevue College.
“Since then, nothing has seemed harder than that transition – that change – that big step that I had to make in my life,” Patrashko said. “Whenever difficulties come up, I know that I can get through it. Life keeps going and it doesn’t stop for you.”
Patrashko had already earned her Associate’s degree before transferring to the UW and had found communication classes to be interesting and engaging.
“I like a variety of classes and topics, but I was always eager to go to my communication classes and I had the best professors,” she said. “Everything I would learn in my communication classes would apply to my real life, and I could actually practice what I learned by observing people in my day-to-day life. It always fascinated me.”
In addition to her side job at P.F. Changs, Patrashko started working for a software company that has headquarters in Russia. As an office manager, she not only files letters and agreements, creates expense reports, and communicates with clients, but she helps the Issaquah office communicate with the office in Russia to keep everything in balance.
“I had to learn how to use a Russian keyboard and it was a wakeup call to make sure my grammar in Russian is still good,” Patrashko said. “It has been a really interesting experience using my bilingual skills and translating in a way that sounds educated and correct. I’ve definitely widened my vocabulary.”
Veronika will take a break from her normal routine when she studies abroad in Rome during spring quarter to round out her undergraduate experience. She is traveling with the Education program and will be learning about different education systems and how they work.
“It’s a close topic because the education system back in my home country is very different than here,” she said. “I can’t say which one is better, but they are polar opposites.”
In addition to her interest in learning about school systems, Patrashko volunteers with autistic children. She will graduate just a few days after returning from her travels and thinks she may want to work with kids.
“I could never be a doctor like my parents wanted me to, but I feel like there is a way to help the community through communication studies,” she said. “I believe it has a way of turning someone’s life around. For me, the most important thing is wanting to work for the company and believing in what the company stands for.”