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The stories of SUSK’s summer 2022 interns

SUSK’s summer students Julianna Petrenko (left), Alexei Ougriniouk (centre) and Nadiya Kovalenko (right).

Over the summer, the Ukrainian Canadian Students’ Union (SUSK) hired three student interns through the Canadian government’s Summer Jobs program. These individuals worked diligently for many months in an effort to keep SUSK running and prepare for the upcoming academic year. They also helped strengthen and maintain SUSK as an organization that supports Ukrainian students in Canada, especially during the ongoing war in Ukraine. Additionally, they helped with other administrative tasks, including the development of SUSK’s high school guidebook as well as updating our website.

Take a minute to read through their excerpts retelling their experiences working with SUSK:

Julianna Petrenko

Привіт Українські-Канадійські учні!

My name is Julianna Petrenko, and I’m so excited to tell you about my summer as General Summer Intern with SUSK! 

I’ve always loved being involved in the Ukrainian community – through PLAST, Ukrainian dance, and as a member of the Queen’s University Ukrainian Students’ Association. Despite my active involvement in our USO, I never knew all that much about SUSK until Covid-19, when we relied on SUSK’s support more than ever. SUSK kept us active, engaged, and connected to other Ukrainian students… which is how I knew I wanted to contribute to helping future students have the same opportunities. 

When I applied to work for SUSK this summer, I was looking forward to helping on a couple projects, maybe make some new friends, and learn more about the Ukrainian student community – but what I received from this position was this, and so much more. Working for SUSK revealed to me the true scope of how SUSK keeps Ukrainian students unified.

Some projects I worked on which brought Ukrainian-Canadian students together were Sweat With SUSK, the Book Club Chity-Chaty, and working with the advocacy committee; all which provide opportunities for current students to communicate. Another influential project I worked on was collecting information for the revival of ЦЕСУС; the union of all Ukrainian student clubs in the world. I was tasked with finding Ukrainian clubs across the globe – it was almost unfathomable to see how large Ukrainian communities were in different cities and countries!

Although SUSK unifies current university students, it also actively engages both future students, and alumni. Other projects I worked on were finalizing the Highschool Guidebook and creating the Club Fair PowerPoint; both which provide high school students with opportunities to learn about post-secondary life, ensuring they know Ukrainian student organizations exist everywhere. SUSK looks out for its alumni too – another task I had was updating Alumni contacts, and the record of the Board of Directors, which lists every BOD since 1953! It was very inspiring to see how the work of SUSK was passed down through generations, and how each BOD carries the torch for the new wave of Ukrainian students.  

Working for SUSK this summer has been one of the most rewarding positions I’ve held because every single day I sat down to work, I was reminded of how strong our community is, and the crucial role SUSK plays in keeping us united; in times of darkness more than ever. 

Alexei Ougriniouk

Привіт!

My Name is Oleksiy Uhryniuk and I was the summer web developer intern for SUSK. Why I applied to SUSK was because I needed some experience relating to my field and during these times, I also thought it would be good to serve the Canadian-Ukrainian community and to work with people that I have a thing in common with. This ended up being a very good experience and I will explain why.

During this time, I learned more about what SUSK does, what they stand for and the events that they organize. I also got valuable experience relating to my own job learning more about WordPress and UI/UX design as I helped SUSK make their websites look better and adding more functionality to them. I would help with maintaining the SUSK website, fixing SUSK connect , creating a page for SWS(Sweat with SUSK ), making it look nice with instructions on how to sign up ,  maintaining the SUSK donate webpage, and fixing any issues with the donate page. As a result they ended up looking more appealing and previous issues with the websites were resolved. I would also do some graphic design as I would make the donor report , endowment fund and help with making some graphics. 

Being in a USO is very important in my honest opinion. Being tapped in with a community is always good as you will make new friends that you have something in common with.It is also good for networking and again, serving a community. Unfortunately, Mohawk College didn’t have a USO but if it did, I would have joined one. I also know some people from MUSA ( Mac’s USO ), and they have had nothing but positive experiences being part of it. Also when being part of a USO you have more access to resources that you would have never had access to before. A USO can help with finding employment as there are job postings , scholarships as they show ones that are curated towards the Ukrainian community,  and certain services that you can get at a discounted rate.

I would recommend this internship to anybody that I know as I gained invaluable experience and more knowledge about the Canadian-Ukrainian community. Especially during these times, it’s best for the community to stay close. If you have a USO at your educational institution, join one! and never be afraid to get involved.

Nadiya Kovalenko

Hello everyone, 

My name is Nadiya, and I had the privilege of working as a General Intern at SUSK this summer. Ever since starting my post-secondary education at the University of Toronto and joining the Ukrainian Students’ Club there, I have been interested in becoming more involved with SUSK to connect with other Ukrainian-Canadian students. Additionally, in times of ongoing war and genocidal aggression against Ukraine, I wanted to have a greater positive impact on the Ukrainian community in Canada as a whole and on Ukrainian youth in particular. Thus, upon seeing a summer job opportunity offered by SUSK on social media, I immediately decided to apply. 

Being in the final stretch of my internship, I can confidently say that this was a great decision that has turned into a wonderful learning experience. During my time at SUSK, I had the chance to contribute my efforts to many different projects, such as researching post-secondary and provincial supports offered to Ukrainian newcomers, working on the organization of the 2022 Sweat with SUSK fitness challenge and fundraiser, as well as putting together a comprehensive Holodomor Resource Package with educational and awareness-raising resources, among other things. Working on all these initiatives has benefitted me tremendously, not only by expanding my professional skill set, but also by introducing me to a team of incredibly hard-working and dedicated people behind the scenes at SUSK. While maintaining work on existing projects and introducing new initiatives, this year SUSK is also faced with a much more difficult challenge of conducting student advocacy in times of war and helping newly-arrived Ukrainian youth integrate into the local community. Having witnessed the work done to achieve these goals firsthand, I am amazed at how effective and resolute SUSK as an organization and its individual members have been in their efforts to help Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Canadian students in such trying times. I am also very grateful for having had the opportunity to contribute to these efforts. 

For all these reasons, I am more than excited to continue my cooperation with SUSK in the upcoming academic year, even though this time it will be in the role of a USO president at my university rather than as an intern. Being a part of a USO has significantly enriched my post-secondary experience as a Ukrainian-Canadian student since it is a great way to not only meet Ukrainian peers but also to work for the benefit of our community on a local, provincial, and even national level through SUSK. Therefore, I urge any and all students of Ukrainian descent who are interested in connecting with other Ukrainians in Canada and making a positive impact to join USOs and get involved with SUSK. There has never been a better time to become a part of our welcoming and fast-growing community and help shape its future together. So, what are you waiting for?