GOSHEN — It’s been a busy and sometimes stressful last several years for Olga Rabchuk. Looking back, though, she said it doesn’t seem as difficult now as it was at the time.
Rabchuk, 34, moved to the U.S. from Ukraine in 1999 with her husband, Andrey, and then-one-year-old son to get away from continued issues in the country from when it was under Soviet rule. Before arriving in the U.S., Rabchuk had worked as a nurse for one year after graduating from a college in Ukraine. With very little English, though, she knew she wouldn’t have her pick of jobs in the U.S.
She applied and began working full-time as a custodian at Goshen College in 2004, while also taking time to teach herself English.
At one point, she took a class for community members to learn English, but said it didn’t move fast enough.
“I need a challenge,” she said.
That attitude likely helped Rachuk in the coming years.
In the fall of 2006, she enrolled as a student at Goshen College, taking a few classes during the day while still working full time in the custodial department at night, raising two kids and continuing to learn English.
Today, April 22, Rabchuk will graduate with her nursing degree with the Goshen College class of 2012. Commencement is at 3 p.m. today at Goshen College’s Recreational-Fitness Center.
Her kids are especially excited. “The kids are counting the days until I’m finished,” she said.
With a May Term course and having to pass a test to be licensed, she still feels like there’s much to do.
“A few more months, maybe I would say, before I feel really like I’m graduating,” she said.
Though there is still some work to do, Rabchuk’s custodial supervisor, Jennifer Stutzman, and Vicky Kirkton, director of the undergraduate nursing program, said they’re proud of all she’s done.
“I have a lot of respect for her for what she’s accomplished,” Stutzman said, crediting Rabchuk as accountable and dependable. Rabchuk worked closely with Stutzman so that Rabchuk could do her work and get to her classes.
“She is just going to make an excellent nurse,” she said.
Kirkton said that Rabchuk’s history of juggling so many responsibilities should make her a good investment for any employer.
“Even though she brought some nursing experience with her,” she said, “she still had to adapt to the American culture and the (American) nursing culture, which is a whole new culture on its own.”
At times, Rabchuk is also in awe that she’s made it through the last six years.
“Even myself, I am amazed that I did this,” she said, crediting God for getting through it all.
Rabchuk said she isn’t sure what will come next in her life. At this point, her family is planning to stay in Goshen and she would like to work in the area. Depending on what she feels is God’s plan, she may return to Ukraine or work in another country at some point. Either way, she wants to help others.
“When people say they go into nursing to have a good pay, it sometimes irritates me,” she said. “I think when you do something for someone, especially when they’re suffering, you see the smiling on someone’s face. It’s a greater reward than any money can get.”