STARTALK Immersion Program

Cohort 2015 - Students - A thru J

Fadi AbuhaniFadu Abuhani

I became interested in learning Russian after I encountered an incident in my life that would have resulted in dire consequences if it weren’t for my limited knowledge of Russian at the time. After I graduate with a bachelor’s degree in international studies from California State University, Long Beach I plan to choose any career that requires the use of the Russian language and involves some form of travel in one way or another. I am considering a career in law or teaching English abroad at the moment, but if other options arise as time passes on, I am more than willing to take those options into consideration. 

The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program is a fantastic way to be put in a position of constant exposure to the Russian language and is a necessity for anyone who is looking to expand their language skill. The program provides full use of the Russian language at all times during the duration of the program as well as assistance in correcting misuse of the language.

Sean AlbertsSean Alberts

My experience studying German in high school ignited my passion for learning language and understanding new cultures. I also had an enthrallment with WW2 history, more specifically the Eastern Front. When I learned that my grandfather not only was a polyglot but immigrated to the US from the Russian Empire my fate was sealed. I stumbled upon some Red Army Choir VHS tapes and became just as transfixed by the culture as by the muscular beauty of the language. 

Currently I am a linguistics and Russian major at Pasadena City College. In the future I plan to use the Russian with any career that capitalizes on my skills with foreign language. I will likely use it in a career with the federal government to live comfortably, serve in a useful capacity to my country, and be exposed to foreign language speakers. 

The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program has provided an experience I won’t forget. Even when I am hard at work in class the level of overall stress was very low. I made many new friends and my speaking and comprehension of Russian both jumped to the next tier.

Cynthia BaroffCynthia Baroff

I got interested in learning Russian when I took a Russian film course. After taking the course, I was inspired to learn more about the Russian language and culture.

I plan to continue learning Russian and to eventually be fluent in the language. In the future, I would like to pursue a career in government work that would allow me to apply the Russian speaking skills and knowledge that I have learned. International politics and economics have always been my biggest interests. My major at California State University, Long Beach was international studies with minors in international economics and political science. Now that I have graduated, I plan on taking a year off to do some traveling to Russia and immerse myself completely in the culture.

Prior to getting in to the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program, I had only two semester’s worth of Russian. Before coming to STARTALK I was a little nervous that my Russian speaking abilities would not be up to par with everyone else’s. However, once we started, within the first week I noticed a huge improvement in my vocabulary, grammar, and speaking abilities. My professor has been immensely helpful. She is a wonderful teacher and I feel very lucky to have taken her class in STARTALK. Altogether, this program has been both challenging and rewarding.

Ana Ruth BarreraAna Ruth Barrera

I became interested in learning Russian when I was taking my second year of Russian in high school. I really enjoyed learning about the language and the culture. My teachers encouraged me to further my knowledge in the language by taking Russian courses at the University of Illinois at Chicago. After I took a semester of Russian at UIC, I decided to declare Russian as a minor and criminal justice as my major. 

I plan to use Russian language as a way to communicate with other Russian speakers. If I have the opportunity to study abroad in Russia, I plan to experience the culture, the traditions, and the language. In regards to my career, I plan to be a translator and/or be able to communicate fluently with clients in any crime scene investigation. 

The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program has been great because it has helped me get closer to speaking the language fluently. The professors in the programs have been a great help. I have learned the importance of communication and conversation with my peers.

Angelica CeballosAngelica Ceballos

When I was younger, I was always fascinated by languages. At my church, I heard some of the members who were Russian speak their language and I was instantly captivated and wanted to learn the language to communicate with them in their native language. I believe that it is important to not only have others learn your native language, but also to learn other people’s language in order to communicate. Russian seemed difficult to learn, but it seemed like a great language that is spoken by a large portion of the world that I wish to learn and become fluent in because of the advantages that it brings in my future career.

I plan to use Russian in my everyday life to communicate with others who speak Russian. Russian is useful for my career and I would be able to speak with my friends who also speak Russian. I would be able to communicate with those who speak Russian at my church and continue to further my knowledge in the language that way. Russian would become a part of my life that I would enjoy practicing and have the ability to express my ideas in different ways and languages. Currently I am a foreign language major at Pasadena City College.

For my career, I plan to become fluent in the Russian language and be a Russian translator. I can use Russian for translating in court houses for people, government speeches, or for businesses that choose to work with Russia. Learning Russian for my career opens many opportunities and creates a lot of new options that were not available before. Learning the language on its own is a reward, but using it for my career adds to its value.

The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program is a great experience. The program helped me advance in the language and practice it throughout my summer with others that had similar interest in the language. The program gave me the opportunity to get ahead and learn the language through an immersion experience. This program is an opportunity I do not regret going for and I highly recommend anyone who is interested in Russian to go for this great experience.

Cydnie DavenportCydnie Davenport

Здравствуйте! My name is Cydnie Davenport, and I am a linguistics major at the University of Oregon. I first became interested in Russian when I learned that my high school offered it, and I decided to take it for fun. I started the class my junior year, and loved it. My teacher was a native speaker and tried to not only teach us the language, but about the culture as well. I then developed more of a fascination for the language and culture. I realized that I wanted to study more and more about languages, and possibly pursue a career using or teaching language. 

I don't know exactly where I'm going yet, or if I'll stay on this path, but I know that I want to continue with Russian. I want to become fluent. Russia has such a fascinating culture, and the language itself is beautiful, offering up its own challenge. When my Russian teacher told me about the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Program at California State University, Northridge, I knew I had to apply.

The STARTALK Program has been an awesome experience. I have seen my Russian ability increase dramatically by being in this program, I had a wonderful instructor. Though six weeks may seem like a long time, it has flown by. The people I have met here have been great. It's been a very beneficial experience for me. I'm excited for the progress that I will make in Russian in the years to come. Спасибо большое.

Eugene EstradaEugene F. Estrada

I was sitting at a barbeque with a few of my friends that happen to be Russian, they started to talk to each other and I felt left out because I didn’t understand. That night I printed out the Russian alphabet and started to sound out words I had seen. Once I got a weird look when I bought a Russian newspaper. 

Currently I am a student at Pasadena City College majoring in engineering technology. My background is in plumbing and pipefitting so the goal is to eventually work in the petroleum/gas/oil industry along the Russian border. My career goal is to be fluent in Russian so that I can converse freely in the work environment and with my friends.

The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program is a wonderful tool that will enhance Russian language skills of all levels of those who want to improve their speaking abilities. It is an excellent program to be involved in and I would highly recommend it.

Katja HarperKatja Harper

At my middle school Russian was the required second language. It was always my favorite subject, so I decided to continue it through college and am very happy with my decision! In the future I would like to become a Russian language translator. I have already graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Maryland. After the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program, I intend to apply to American University's graduate certificate program in Russian translation and then look for a company or government agency hiring Russian speakers. I would like my language skills to be the focus of my career, and I hope that my future Russian studies will elevate my language to a more professional level. I am hopeful that after studying at American University, I will be able to find a job as a translator for a private corporation or the government.

Ruth JiangRuth Jiang

In high school, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. I stumbled upon the National Security Language Initiative For Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship funded by the US Department of State, and out of all the languages offered (such as Arabic, Chinese, and Persian), the prospect of being able to travel to the largest and most geographically diverse country in the world appealed to me the most. I received the scholarship and stayed in Yaroslavl, Russia during the summer of 2014 and truly fell in love with Russian culture and the Russian language. After coming home, I decided that I wanted to make learning Russian a concrete part of my life as well.

My passion for learning foreign languages such as Russian stems from my desire to innovate the way foreign language is taught in the United States. I want to use my knowledge and experiences learning the Russian language to help schools in the US implement more effective ways of teaching a language. 

After I graduate Wellesley College I hope to use my language skills in the future to work for the US Government, improve foreign language curriculum in the United States, or become a Foreign Service Officer. Right now, I feel like the possibilities are endless with all the language skills I have acquired!

I think the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program has been a very helpful program for me because bits and pieces of my Russian knowledge were missing before. I think the duration of the program was really beneficial as it helped me improve many areas of my Russian that I was unfamiliar with before, such as grammar and vocabulary.

Monic JohnsonMonic Johnson

While working at a law firm for children within the foster care system I realized that the amount of staff that understood and spoke Russian were slim to none, so I thought that taking Russian would be essential to have in the social work field.

Currently I am working on a Masters of Social Work degree at California State University, Northridge. I plan on using Russian in the field of social work with potential clients; Russian will build my resume and work skills as an asset to what I can bring to the field of social work.  However, because I enjoy learning the language, I would also like to use it in my daily life.

My career goal is to work in a school setting with children in kindergarten to high school age and their parents. Russian will be an asset to assist to the students and their parents that attend any school I work for.

I love the STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program. I think is has done wonders for my comprehension of the Russian language. The teachers were great and are really hands-on with me and my progress as a student.

Sean JonesSean Jones

I became interested in Cold War history when I was very young. That interest translated into taking an introductory Russian class during my senior year of high school. I loved it, so I decided to continue learning the language in college.

After graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park with a bachelor’s degree in Russian, I would like to enter the diplomatic or translating field and use my language knowledge there. I would like to become a Foreign Service Officer in the United States State Department or to become a Russian translator.

The STARTALK Russian Language and Culture Immersion Program is a great resource for students who want to diversify their Russian education experience. The STARTALK Program is a great way for students to learn new subjects and new words, as well as a great way to practice and maintain Russian proficiency for a first or second year student.