January 2007 College Student of the Month: Anna Vaverko
“We are terribly proud of her desire to give a voice to the voiceless.”
– SCSU Advisor Michael Vadnie
College: St. Cloud State University
Major: Mass Communications
Anna Vaverko has traveled the world. She was born in Kiev, Ukraine, grew up in Queens, NY, and went to high school in New Jersey. Post graduation, Anya (as Anna is known) traveled the world – she trekked throughout Europe, Morocco, India, Nepal, Tibet and Thailand.
“In some of those places I have just soaked in the atmosphere, in others I have studied language or religion, and in others I have volunteered.”
Now, during her latest college years (she first spent an academic semester in California), she’s found herself another world away, excelling in Minnesota.
The abridged story goes that while Anya was visiting Nepal – her favorite country to date – she met her current boyfriend, who was on his way back to St. Cloud State University. She decided to follow a few months later.
“My philosophy is to go with whatever comes my way… it has led to many interesting and unbelievable things happening in my life.”
After living on the road since high school and operating on a spontaneous schedule (or lack there-of), the move to a collegiate life was anything but easy. In fact, it was initially very frustrating, she says, because she had lost much of the control.
“But, over time, I came to realize that there are lessons for me to learn here, too. I am thankful for SCSU because it has allowed me to pursue my studies in my own way, through independent studies and flexibility with the curriculum.”
One option was studying abroad (which of course she chose) – first to Mexico and soon to Prague, Czech Republic. This allowed Anya to resume her love of travel and delving into other cultures.
“[While abroad] I hope to get yet another perspective from which to understand the world.”
Through SCSU’s curriculum and her travels, Anya has met all walks of life and unearthed a desire to bring attention to the world’s ‘nameless.’ She’s currently finishing a degree in Mass Communications, where she emphasizes in print journalism and minors in international relations.
“The more I learn, I come to see that there are countless people who are invisible to the media and sometimes even to society. I want to tell their stories and bring attention to injustices that go on daily. I do not think the mainstream media, with all its access and power, has done a sufficient job of that.”
So, Anya works to counteract that injustice, and somewhat ironically, has brought attention to herself along the way as well, earning praise from her University.
“We are terribly proud of her desire to give a voice to the voiceless,” said Michael Vadnie, Anya’s academic and newspaper advisor. “Anna is a classic example of a global citizen. She will make a great story-telling journalist some day due to her common sense, energy, intelligence and sensitivities.”
Anya was named the 2006 SCSU Department of Mass Communications Jodi Huisentruit Scholarship recipient and continues to show her promise as a reporter and photographer for the campus newspaper, the University Chronicle.
While in Mexico, Anya fulfilled an independent study about the effects of NAFTA in the region. It was a chance to report on real people, real issues and the real world, she says, something Anya hopes to continue if she pursues a journalism career.
First comes two more semesters of college though. Then she’ll be off to face the world again, admittedly, from who knows where. Perhaps she’ll go back to her beloved Nepal, or move closer to her 13-year-old brother and immediate family in New York. Or maybe she’ll leave on her own again and go somewhere new.
“You’re never alone. I left alone [before], but you meet people, travel with them for awhile, and part ways.”
The only thing that’s certain for this nomadic English-Spanish-Russian-Nepali-speaking young woman is she’ll leave St. Cloud State University and Minnesota looking for work, and will likely leave her mark on another new place.