Blog Post #1: Three Life Experiences Anton Kyrylenko
It was sometimes difficult for me to see past some hurdles of life and make out crucial lessons they could teach me. One of the most frustrating things that I had to deal with was the constant uncertainty of my academic future. My mind would question about whether continuing to ambitiously study in the United states would pay off by obtaining an affordable college education opportunity. On one hand, I was eagerly preparing for college in the United States along with my peers. On the other, I had to always account for the possibility that I would have to abandon everything I hoped for in the United States, return to Ukraine, and worry about rapidly readjusting to its own higher education application requirements, and potentially be set back a year.
In hopes of being best-prepared for this situation, I enrolled myself at a well-regarded public school in Kyiv, which allowed me to receive a Ukrainian diploma via distance education and have an acceptable back-up degree. As I continued high school in the United States, I was concurrently going through the Ukrainian educational program.
After visiting Ukraine in the summer of 2016 and passing all final examinations, I successfully graduated from the school! I finally had peace of mind and a sense of security. The true benefits of the education however, shined through in situations such as skipping some of the introductory college science courses, becoming a presidential scholar in my first year of college, and have a strong educational background for college and beyond. I had seen how positively I react to rigorous coursework material and learned a lot about myself while carrying out multiple academic responsibilities. It gave me an immense skill base of improved self-disciple, independent self-learning habits as well as confidence in my own academic abilities.
The application process and acceptance to the Macaulay program was another unique experience. I was the first in my family to start college in the United States as my parents got their higher degrees in Ukraine. Considering this, I had to go through this process as a pioneer in my family although I had all the support from them. I had learned a lot about myself during the process of self-reflection. It is difficult sometimes to appreciate how far you have come in your journey, and by sharing about myself in the application – I refreshed my memory of all my achievements. I gained more confidence in myself by seeing a good image of myself in the application as I had some issues before of being confident in my abilities. I also learned useful skills such as writing self-statements. This experience is a great example of how putting your thoughts on paper can help sort them out for the better and show what autoethnographies are for the writer.
Something that I always did is to be athletically active. It was a part of my father’s perspectives in life and it was certainly one of the things he taught me to love too. Nine years ago, he enrolled me at a local swim club in my hometown Vyshgorod, Ukraine. I never expected what kind of positive impact would a single activity set off in the years to come with regards to my life perspectives and academic success. As with anything, it takes time to appreciate things you have, the case with my swimming career was no different. When I was younger, I did not see it, that my commitment to the thousands of hours practicing meant much more to me other than a way to prepare myself for yet another competition. Discipline was the driving factor that had to be learned, when motivation would fade during days of exhaustion and self-doubt.
It was only after crossing that mental barrier and understanding the true purpose and value of this I realized that swimming meant more to me than I could have ever realized – it had shaped my way of life. Other than embedding an active lifestyle, good habits, discipline, and promoting success in academics it also immersed me in a unique and small community of the fellow swimmers I knew in Ukraine and later here, in New York – which certainly played its role in immersing me in to such an intimidating at first city. Great sense of accomplishment only comes after many never-ending plateaus despite the hard work. It is something that true athletics teach is that talent can only get you so far.