Student Success Stories - Anastasia Mikhaylova
Outgoing, positive and full of energy, Anastasia Mikhaylova’s educational journey began with a few bumps along the way. But a suggestion to attend Salem Community College turned out to be just the path for her.
An international student from Russia, Anastasia began school in the states with a semester at the University of Delaware. Then, as she was planning to attend Delaware Technical and Community College to major in business administration, she discovered that she didn’t like the area as much as she thought she would, and she was late to register. So instead of waiting a whole semester to begin college, she asked for advice from her advisor, who turned her toward Salem Community College.
“She said ‘I know a small school in New Jersey, it’s very nice, I think you’ll like it,’” Anastasia said. “So I enrolled at Salem Community College.”
Though the commute was a long one – she lived in Easton, Md. with her host family – Anastasia found she was looking forward to attending SCC.
But as she was commuting to her first day of classes at SCC, Anastasia was involved in a car accident that incapacitated her for an entire semester.
When she finally arrived at SCC, she was welcomed with open arms. Because of the College’s size, everyone was aware of the new international student who’d been waylaid due to an accident.
“When I came in to Student Services, everyone knew me,” she recalled. “I didn’t even have to introduce myself! It was just such a difference, so nice and friendly.”
As SCC welcomed Anastasia, she gave back in return. With seemingly endless sources of energy and an enthusiasm for being involved, Anastasia quickly immersed herself in student life, taking part in fundraisers, book drives and tutoring services.
In fall 2008, Anastasia was named president of Alpha Phi Omega, SCC’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society for two-year colleges. Under her leadership, the Educational Opportunity Fund Club, PTK, staff and professors worked to organize and hold a College debate that drew more than 100 audience members.
“Because of the event, Salem Community College students were given a wide educational insight into today’s global problems and were better informed for the election,” she said.
As Anastasia’s activities increased, her academic performance never faltered. She found her instructors to be extremely supportive and quick to assist her in any way, particularly if she came up on any language or cultural barriers.
During the 2008-2009 academic year, Anastasia was recognized several times for her academic achievements and leadership. At the PTK Middle States Regional Conference in Baltimore, she was named to the Chapter Presidents’ Hall of Honor. She was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from the Coca Cola Scholars Foundation which she will use toward tuition when she begins classes at Drexel University in fall 2009. She also received one of only five Phi Theta Kappa Middle States Region registration scholarships to attend the international convention to Texas in April 2009.
Along with fellow SCC student Stacy Holloway, Anastasia was selected to the All-State Academic Team and recognized at the annual Phi Theta Kappa Day celebration hosted by the New Jersey Council of County Colleges. As All-State members, the SCC honorees joined 32 other community college students in being recognized for their outstanding academic achievement and exceptional service to their communities. All-State representatives were nominated to the 2009 All-USA Academic Team.
While these were great honors, Anastasia was moved to tears when it was announced at graduation that she was the recipient of the 2009 College Service Achievement Award.
“Everything that was said about me was so special,” she said. “I was so touched that I couldn’t hide my emotions.”
What made the moment even more special was the fact that Anastasia’s family was there to witness it. Through the help of Sandy Jones-Congleton, the international advisor at SCC, Anastasia’s mother was able to attend her daughter’s commencement. The two hadn’t seen each other in four years.
“My mom’s presence at the graduation meant a lot to me because she knows how hard it has been for me to live apart from the family and still succeed,” she said. “Being a mother, she is always concerned about my health and wellness. After visiting SCC, she completely approves of my choice of college. She truly believes in me.”
While enrolled as a business administration student, Anastasia found her classes to be interesting and challenging. She has since decided to major in international business at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Her plans include going for her MBA.
No matter where her educational path leads her, she said she will always remember her time at SCC.
“I love SCC,” she said. “This College actually gave me the chance to grow and become a success. I am so very thankful. I’ll remember everything from SCC. I will always carry those memories with me.”