Corrine Occhino, an assistant professor with a dual appointment in the School of Education and College of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded an SU Engaged Humanities Mini-grant for a project to serve Deaf refugees learning American Sign Language (ASL)….
Russian High School Student Stands Out From Afar in Syracuse University Online Class
Kseniia Borovkova is a junior in high school in Saratov, Russia. Saratov is a large town surrounded by forests and the Volga River, the longest river in Europe.
At 5 a.m. this past school year, while her parents and brother were still asleep, Borovkova signed on to her computer to participate in the live synchronous session of her Syracuse University strategic leadership class that started at at 8 p.m. ET. Like most high school students, Borovkova relies on computer technology to complete her studies, conduct research and connect with others through social media.
Through online research, Borovkova explored American universities that would provide her with unique programs of study. Syracuse University had just what she was looking for: an accelerated online course she could take during the school year that will help her in her future business and academic pursuits.
Borovkova applied for and was accepted into the Accelerated Semester Online program through University College’s Office of Pre-college Programs.
Borovkova is a natural leader. Larisa Stepanova, who has been Borovkova’s English teacher for nine years, is not surprised by the commitment and hard work that Borovkova exhibited in her college class.
“She is highly driven, motivated and persistent,” says Stepanova. “Her level of English proficiency is excellent and her unique abilities and leadership traits are extremely rare in a high school student.”
Susan Conklin, an instructor in the Bachelor of Professional Studies program at University College, calls Borovkova an entrepreneur and visionary.
“Kseniia wrote and spoke impeccable English, was mature in her thinking and participated and led class discussions. At the end of the class, when the rest of us were signing off at 9:30 p.m., Kseniia was getting ready to go to school,” says Conklin.
The eight-hour time difference was not the only challenge Borovkova was able to overcome. Getting the textbook was problematic due to logistics and mail deliveries that were not reliable.
“Kseniia found an outdated edition of the book and was using that along with doing independent research on the topics,” explains Conklin. “She took her responsibilities seriously, attended every session, submitted all assignments and asked for no allowances given the difficulty with accessing material. In a class with adult students and working professionals, Kseniia not only succeeded, but excelled in her studies.”
Borovkova said she became interested in entrepreneurship as a way of making an impact. Having taken several computer science courses, she recognized she was somewhat lacking in leadership courses. As a young entrepreneur who founded a nonprofit organization dealing with ethics in artificial intelligence, Borovkova knew she needed to expand her field of study.
“I had various reasons for choosing the strategic leadership course,” she says. “My organization needed a strategy to move forward, and the course really helped me get an in-depth understanding of how to make informed, purposeful decisions.”
Borovkova and her friends educate teens and others early in their careers about the technical and societal aspects of artificial intelligence fairness. To date, they’ve published more than 30 posts and articles on social media and are now expanding their business to include corporate training.
This summer, Borovkova will be working on a new business project and looking for internships that will enhance her resume and give her additional business experience. She will also be researching Russian and American universities as she plans for her college career.
Borovkova says taking an online course at Syracuse University was a wonderful experience.
“I simply loved every part of the course. It was my first time taking a synchronous online credit course. The energetic atmosphere and rigorous course material had a lasting impact on me,” she says. “My classmates were so engaged, active and supportive. And although I was the only high school student, I immediately experienced a sense of belonging.”
Borovkova’s Syracuse University experience was made possible through a scholarship from EducationUSA Russia. The organization assists the best and brightest high school students to become competitive applicants to U.S. schools. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 on-campus programs were canceled. EducationUSA Russia was able to reallocate funding for students to attend college classes online.