Tetyana grew up in Sumy, a city in northeastern Ukraine on the banks of the Psel River. Her home city has a population of 265,000 people, far larger than the population of Vermont. Prior to her arrival in the U.S., Tetyana worked as a registered nurse at a children’s hospital. She spent much of her career working in the neonatal intensive care unit with babies born prematurely.
“I always liked to help people,” Tetyana said.
This inspired Tetyana to earn a nursing degree at the Sumy State University Medical Institute. Since immigrating to the U.S. in 2011, Tetyana has trained as a medical technician and completed her LNA. Her goal is to earn her RN—-a second time, in her adoptive country. She juggles work with family commitments while attending Leigh Smith’s English Language Learning class at Vermont Adult Learning. Tetyana is on the front lines, working in an assisted living facility during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
“I help residents with their daily needs,” Tetyana said. “I like to help people change their mind, letting them know they can keep or improve their skills. Many people living in nursing homes don’t believe they can keep their skills, mentally and physically. I try to help them.”
These skills include walking, sitting and transferring. Patients are scared they may lose their balance. Tetyana stands beside them, helping them build strength, confidence and independence. For some this may mean getting out of bed and walking to the dining room for dinner.
Tetyana’s math and science skills from her studies in Ukraine remain strong. She recognizes she needs to improve her English to apply, gain acceptance and enroll in a Vermont nursing program. It is worth mentioning that English is Tetyana’s third language—she speaks Ukrainian and Russian fluently.
“I like the flexible schedule at Vermont Adult Learning,” Tetyana said. “Our class is small and we are able to talk about everything. We read books and talk about them and I see myself improving. I can write an essay more freely than before.”
“My work isn’t really different with Covid-19. I worked in a hospital in Ukraine and understand about sanitation. For me, it’s not really more difficult or hard. What is hard is that we don’t know about the virus; we are still learning about it. Our patients are older and some are scared. We have to remind then, over and over, to take precautions.”
What advice does Tetyana have for other adult learners?
“Believe in yourself and believe in your teacher,” Tetyana said. “Be positive. You may start learning something and it will be difficult. Don’t be ashamed to ask a question. That is how you learn.”