By Jane Rudenko
PHOTO 1: Jane (left) with her sister Mariam.
PHOTO 2: Jane with her friend Valeria Cortes, also an SPCC alum, in Chapel Hill.
I was 14 years old when my parents were deported back to their country of origin (Ukraine). Upon receiving this unfortunate news, I immediately knew it was imperative that I stay here in America. And that’s exactly what I did. However, I made a mistake: I didn’t account for how difficult life gets when you have no choice but to face all of it alone, especially as a young teenage girl. I became severely frustrated with my life’s circumstances pretty quickly. I was studying at SPCC at the time and decided that my coping mechanism would be getting lost in my school work and activities. I joined every club available to me. I thought burying myself in the work would help me deal with the aching pain I felt in my chest. But, I thought wrong. It wasn’t the workload that saved me, it was the people at SPCC who did.
The members of the SPCC community, including the staff, faculty, and student body alike, became my second family. There aren’t enough words in any language that would accurately express how much SPCC and its community mean to me, or to express the extent to which I am grateful to this institution. SPCC has done nothing but positively contribute to and enhance my life. If you are reading this, are related to SPCC in anyway, and have interacted with me (even in the slightest) during my time at SPCC, thank you. You have blessed me in many ways, even if you do not know it.
Currently, I am a sophomore (and may I humbly add here, with a fully paid scholarship) at UNC Chapel Hill, double majoring in Philosophy and Computer Science with a minor in Creative Writing. After graduation, I want to be an immigration lawyer who works with individuals facing similar situations to mine. When I think about who I am now and reflect on my achievements, I recognize that none of this would have been possible without SPCC’s contribution. In other words, I am who I am today because of SPCC. Thank you for always creating a safe space for my voice to be heard and for my existence to flourish.
Jane Rudenko earned an Associate in Arts degree from SPCC in 2015.