Susie Mischenko ’08, is the one you want on your team, the player whose joy lifts everyone on the field to another level. In Mischenko’s case, it doesn’t stop on the soccer field. She believes in spreading the joy around.
Ask a few hundred villagers on the other side of the world, or residents of a community near Tijuana, or a score of elementary school children in Northridge.
Ask Mischenko and she will tell you she’s just getting started.
Her delight in working with people could explain the midfielder’s anointment as a 2008 Big West Conference Scholar-Athlete who wound up her CSUN career with a 3.84 grade point average and a permanent perch on both the Dean’s List and the Kinesiology Honor Roll.
“I like the team dynamic,” said Mischenko, perennial team captain and only the second player in Cal State Northridge history to earn a first team all-conference ranking…twice. “You learn a lot about working with others in a team sport like soccer.”
That was evident during her two trips to Thailand, when she and fellow church members flew into Chiang Mai and traveled for seven hours—by truck and once by elephant—until the road gave out near a tribal village whose 150 inhabitants, “the poorest of the poor,” had never known the luxury of a clean water supply.
Under a punishing sun, her team dug trenches, laid pipe, installed filters, put up water storage tanks and rigged faucets so villagers who carried buckets three miles through the jungle could be rewarded with water fit to drink.
In between studying, soccer practice and digging trenches in Thailand, Mischenko spent time in Mexico building or roofing churches, or in Northridge teaching her beloved sport to schoolchildren.
“I’ve learned how to mix and pour cement, tar a roof and lay pipe,” she said, “but the most important thing I’ve learned is to be open to different cultures, to live outside of my comfort zone.”
Mischenko’s journey of discovery will continue in CSUN’s nursing program. When she finishes, she will take her “knowledge and God-given skill to do work for others.”
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