Can-Do Attitude

Sofiya Kreminska ’16 makes the most of Nazareth’s experiential learning opportunities

by Joanie Eppinga

Sofiya Kreminska

Sofiya Kreminska ’16 with Senator Joseph E. Robach during her internship with the New York State Senate.

You’ve graduated from college. You’ve got your degree. But employers want to know: What can you do?

Sofiya Kreminska ’16 has a great answer to that question. Sofiya, an international business major, acquired numerous real-life skills by embracing Nazareth’s experiential learning opportunities. She explored possibilities as a paid employee, a student and intern abroad, a club founder and member, and a volunteer.

As a freshman, Sofiya expressed her interest in different cultures by working at Saints Place, a program that assists refugees. She coordinated the work with various ethnic groups, keeping track of volunteer hours and recruiting people to tutor. She also promoted the program in schools and colleges. “It was about bringing people together,” she says.

That theme continued in an internship at a travel agency in Germany, where, Sofiya says, she learned to be strategic about connecting areas of the world. She worked for a Jewish woman who focused on getting Western Europeans to travel to Eastern Europe and Israel. Sofiya enjoyed helping people learn about parts of the world they hadn’t explored. In addition, she notes, she found the experience in the international tourist business helpful because someday she may work in that field.

Thoughts about Sofiya’s future were also stimulated by her internship closer to home, for State Senator Joseph Robach. “I learned how much responsibility politicians bear to their constituents,” Sofiya says. The notion has her speculating that, after spending time in the corporate world, she may go into politics herself.

This kind of openness to the options is exactly what Nazareth hopes to foster with its emphasis on active, hands-on learning. Venues for exploring different fields include service learning, student leadership, clinical experiences, and many more. Nazareth’s goal with its array of experiential options is to have students learn to integrate the knowledge they acquire in class and apply it to real-world problems.

That’s just what Sofiya did in Finance Society, a business club she co-founded, when she helped acquaint students with farsighted personal finance practices. “People aren’t always taught about how to handle their finances,” she says. “I thought it would be good to be prepared.”

Valuable preparation for Sofiya has included learning to be an effective public speaker, which she did in her internship with the New York State Comptroller’s Office. And her stint as treasurer for the International Club taught her about event planning.

But the most eye-opening of Sofiya’s experiences included volunteering at a soup kitchen through the Center for Spirituality and tutoring in an after-school program through Partners for Learning.

“At the soup kitchen, I saw people who had done all right in life, yet they were there,” says Sofiya. At the school, she was moved by the needs of disadvantaged kids. She wondered what would help turn things around for both groups. The key, she concluded, is education. “It’s like a backpack you can take with you wherever you go,” she says.

Sofiya’s own “backpack” is rich with hands-on learning, which she finds invaluable. “It’s learning on the go,” she says. “It makes you well rounded and adaptable.” Sofiya believes that modern-day employers look closely at experiential learning on a résumé. “They’re not just looking for a degree,” she says. “They want to know what you did.” After all her experiences, Sofiya’s ready to show them.

Joanie Eppinga is a freelance writer and editor in Spokane, Washington.