During her first year on campus, Nastia Khlopina ’18 worked with five other international students to create We Introduce Nations at Dickinson (WIND), a group for international students that’s devoted to greater and richer cultural exchanges on campus. Two years later, she’s thrilled with all she’s been able to achieve, both as a WIND co-founder, and as a student-athlete, resident advisor, and member of Dickinson Christian Fellowship and a majors’ committee. Below, she discusses the joy of finding her place on campus, her internship at Russia’s largest bank, her favorite class, which mixed social justice and environmentalism, and her conscious choice to cultivate happiness.
Clubs and organizations:
Student Leader of the Year, Kappa Alpha Psi, NCAA Academic Honor Roll, Alpha Lambda Delta, Dean’s List, John Montgomery Scholarship and Hugh B. & Helen K. Woodward Scholarship.
On choosing Dickinson:
Going to college in a different country was a risk, but I wanted a well-rounded, practical education that would help me discover my potential, remain true to myself and, eventually, make a difference in the world. I wanted my college to be a place of passionate and caring people, where ideas matter. I could only form my opinion of the school from the website. Thankfully, Dickinson ended up being more than I hoped for, intellectually, socially and spiritually, and I have never regretted becoming a part of this institution.
Favorite class so far:
Social and Environmental Justice with [Assistant] Professor [of Environmental Studies] Heather Bedi. We dug deep into more holistic definitions of sustainability, social inequality, environmental racism, consumerism, local and global activism and food and energy justice. Visiting fracking sites in Greene County, Pa., proved that injustices we read about were real but can be addressed and remedied. It was an eye-opening and influential class.
Most important thing I’ve learned so far:
Community matters. At Dickinson, I realized how vital it is to be surrounded by a thriving, loving, diverse yet united group of people (I cannot even translate the word “community” in Russian). It’s very encouraging to experience a place where community is prioritized, valued and fought for.
I absolutely enjoyed every single professor that I had an honor to learn from at Dickinson. However, I feel most connected to [Associate] Professor [of International Studies, Business & Management Michael] Fratantuono, who astounds me with his kindness and love for teaching. He didn’t know this, but from the first class I was writing down quotes from him, hoping to one day become as dedicated, hardworking and humble. Professor Frat sincerely cares about every student and their personal and academic success. Seeing him and his wife come to support me and the volleyball team at the home games meant more than a lot. This is how I learned that a good professor is not merely a great academician.
As a kid, I wanted to be …
… an ambassador. I thought it meant traveling the world, speaking foreign languages and making peace between countries.
During my first year on campus, I worked with five other classmates to create We Introduce Nations at Dickinson (WIND), the first organization on campus for international students, by international students. I am proud of the community that is gradually emerging because of WIND. Our vision is bright and big, and it includes a better understanding of and appreciation for every culture represented on campus and for the people that represent them. WIND has already made a positive impact on our campus, and I believe it will last long.
In a perfect world …
… everyone would know that they are loved.
People often tell me, “You just are so happy all the time!” I think I can indeed say that I am happy. But it doesn’t always come easily. Happiness demands being strong, because then it becomes your power. It is finding courage and hope as you lament about so many things in the world. It is being grateful, attentive, caring, sacrificial. It is your own, and you can find it everywhere. For me it is rooted in service and unconditional love; in my Christian faith, where I find matchless joy and confidence; in family; education; things I enjoy and am good at; sunrises; and caf-sitting with friends. Happiness is contagious, and it multiplies as you share it! Being happy is definitely a choice and a pursuit, and it is worth it.
About my internship:
During summer 2016, I interned at Sberbank, the largest and the oldest bank in Russia, where I participated in candidates’ screenings, interviewing and recruiting and assisted with completing official documentation. Because of my internship there, I had the opportunity to attend the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum, which featured a panel discussion with the presidents of Sberbank and Boeing International, along with executives from McKinsey & Co., Google and Square and a professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The discussion centered on technological innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship, something that I became very passionate about! Seeing outstanding businessmen from around the world face-to-face was quite inspiring.
Published February 14, 2017