My experience here is preparing me with the skills I'll need to go out in the world and make a tangible difference for others.

Natalya "Sasha" Carpenter '19
Photo by Emily Paine, Division of Communications

"My mom and two of my uncles went to Bucknell, so I grew up visiting campus. I knew I wanted to become a writer and was looking for an excellent English department, but I also wanted to study Russian. Bucknell had the personal programs I was looking for, and I was fortunate to receive several scholarships.

"I was adopted from Russia when I was 17 months old, and I have six younger sisters who were also adopted. All of us have some form of disability — mine is a mild form of cerebral palsy. The trip to pick up two of my sisters from their Ukrainian orphanage really opened my eyes to the plight of special-needs children there. I knew then that I wanted to learn Russian. Eventually, I want to return to Eastern Europe and use my language skills to help orphans there and teach English as a second language. I'm teaching ESL to Russian children in a local elementary school through Bucknell's Office of Civic Engagement, and I love it. My goal is to pursue a graduate degree in English with a focus in disability studies.

"I'm in my second year as a program assistant at the Stadler Center for Poetry. For part of my work, I assist Professor Paula Closson Buck, the director of the Creative Writing Program. One of my responsibilities there is managing social media, a skill that I've been able to use in Ting Ministries, my family's nonprofit organization for special-needs orphans in Eastern Europe and Asia.

"I love to write on my own, and won an honorable mention for fiction in the Stadler's 2017-18 Cadigan Prize for Younger Writers competition. I have a blog in which I talk about issues related to adoption and disability advocacy, and I write reviews for movies and TV programs, some with disability and adoption themes. When I have time, I also take voice lessons, which is something I really enjoy, along with public speaking and Christian fellowship.

"I've always explored disability as a subject of my scholarship and research. With my background, I'm very aware of the need to be patient and understanding in all relationships, no matter what the setting. That's important to remember in Bucknell's competitive academic environment, and something I often talk about when people ask me about disability on campus. Bucknell has been a great highlight in moving toward my goals. My experience here is preparing me with the skills I'll need to go out in the world and make a tangible difference for others. It's really exciting, and I'm very grateful."

Sasha is from Lebanon, Pa.

Posted April 2018