From daughter of refugees to graduation


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The Old Capitol is shown on Monday, July 25, 2016.

 By Jason Estrada

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Unlike many of her peers, Lucy Korsakov’s college experience is quite culturally different.

The daughter of refugees from Soviet Union, Korsakov, is a first-generation University of Iowa senior, and she’ll graduate Saturday.

In 1991, Korsakov’s family immigrated to America as refugees from Moscow, then the capital of the Soviet Union.

“They were granted refugee status after a couple of years, and they came right before the collapse of the Soviet Union,” she said. “They came as political, religious refugees during that time.”Korsakov was born a few years later. As she was growing up, both of her parents attended school to pursue their associate degrees. Their degrees were not accepted in the States when they transferred from the Soviet Union, however.

“My mom was becoming a dental hygienist, and my dad [was getting a generic] associate’s degree,” she said.

So, her grandfather helped raise Korsakov and her older brother, Pasha, who was going to school as well.

As her high-school chapter came to a close, she was deciding among a few colleges and chose the UI. What factored into her decision was the relationship with her grandfather, her qualification for in-state tuition, and her interest in studying neurobiology.

“I really wanted to be close to home, so that I could be there at any point,” she said. “[My grandfather] passed away before my sophomore year, but [it was] still definitely a blessing that I decided to come here.”

As a first-generation college student, she said, it was a different experience because of her participation in a sorority, Chi Omega. She said her mother had a different college experience when she visited her on “mom’s day,” a sorority event.

“I definitely appreciate all they have done to let me have this kind of college experience,” she said. “To be able to be in a sorority, go to a Big Ten school, to study abroad for a year because [of what] they’ve done for me, so that’s definitely different.”

Another factor that made her experience different was her distinct appreciation for what she has and the reasons she works. Some examples were her dislike for skipping class too much and how, in her time here, she became more inclined to listen to her parents’ advice.

“My parents really pushed me to go to law school and not take a gap year,” she said. “And I take their advice much more heavily I think as a first-gen than many of my friends who aren’t first-gen.”

Pasha Korsakov said he is proud of her dedication during her time at the UI.

“She has used all of the resources that she was given throughout her education, and she’s made the most of them,” he said.

Taylor Manders, a friend of Lucy Korsakov who has known her since freshman year of college, is proud of her development throughout college.

“Lucy is one of the hardest workers I know,” she said. “She is so driven and so dedicated, and when she has her sights set on something, she is going to embrace that to the fullest until she achieves that.”

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