Person Profile: Elina Byeloborodova

Whether it’s exploring crumbling buildings or complex academic ideas, Elina Byeloborodova has always had a hard time staying idle.

Elina is a student at UW-Whitewater and a first generation immigrant who traveled from Kharkiv, Ukraine to the United States with her mother at an age of only 10 years old.

The adjustment period was tough for the young traveler, who didn’t speak a word of English when she and her mother moved to Wisconsin.

“It makes you very observant.” She reflected.  “I didn’t speak for probably the first three months I was here.”

Hearing her family’s background, her ability to learn and adapt should come as no surprise. Elina’s grandparents in the Ukraine were both college professors and her mother worked as a chemical engineer in Kharkiv.

This record of accomplishment looks to continue with Byeloborodova, as she is double majoring in Accounting and I.T. and also has two jobs, splitting time between U.S. Cellular and Toppers Pizza here in Whitewater.

“I really do think it comes from the way I was raised,” Elina said when asked about her ambition. “although as I’m talking to you I’m realizing I might be working too much!”

The 21-year-old student didn’t shed much light on current hobbies, but lit up when asked about happy memories back home in Ukraine. She told me about experiences with her and relatives exploring abandoned buildings and scaring each other in their spare time.

“It was mostly ghost stories and scaring each other.” She said, “It was a lot of fun!”

As we were nearing the end of our coffees, I asked Elina what advice she had for other immigrants who might be having a hard time assimilating to a new culture.

“I think it’s important to be open-minded. Being open to new ideas will definitely help because people communicate much differently. It will eventually get easier. I believe that all people from all different countries share many of the same experiences, and it’s important to remember that.”

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