Ukrainian first-gen grad perseveres in the face of tragedy

February 6, 2023

When news first broke of Russia's invasion of Ukraine nearly one year ago, first-generation Arizona State University graduate Tatyana Klyuchnyk immediately thought about her family and friends who lived in Ukraine.

“It seemed surreal. I just couldn't wrap my brain around it,” Klyuchnyk said. “Obviously, there's a lot of wars, but when it happens to your home country, that hits close. Not hearing from our family and friends, not knowing what's going on, not knowing if they're OK — that was very hard.” Portrait of ASU grad Tatyana Klyuchnyk wearing graduation gown, stole and cap and smiling at the camera. In the fall, Tatyana Klyuchnyk completed her master’s degree in forensic psychology from ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. Photo courtesy Tatyana Klyuchnyk Download Full Image

At the time, Klyuchnyk, who lives in California, was an ASU Online student working toward her master’s degree in forensic psychology from ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

“In terms of school, this whole experience made me start reevaluating my entire life and it was hard to just do my daily, regular activities like waking up, going to work, doing homework. ... All of that just seemed so trivial to me,” she said.

As time went on and Klyuchnyk received news that her friends and family were safe, she found that immersing herself in her education was the most productive way to cope with what was going on in Ukraine. In the fall, she completed her degree. Here, she shares more about her experiences at ASU and what’s next for her.

Question: Did you have an “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study forensic psychology?

Answer: All through high school, I knew I was going to do something with health care. I wanted to be a doctor or a nurse. I took a lot of prerequisites and volunteered at a hospital, and that's when I figured out I didn’t really want to be a nurse, but I still wanted to do something with health care. I changed my major and I got my bachelor's in health care administration from Sacramento State University, and I worked in that field for a little while. 

I have two passions in my life. One of them is health care and taking care of people, and the other is criminal justice. After a while of working in the health care field, my interest in criminal justice was still brewing in my mind. I’m a total addict to true crime documentaries and podcasts. I would just sit and watch court hearings for hours; I just found all of that to be fascinating. … I knew I wanted to get a master's degree; I was thinking about it for a very long time. I ended up realizing that I could do something like forensic psychology that would speak to both of my passions. 

Q: Who at ASU taught you the most important lesson?

A: My success coach Paulina Peng was amazing because she would call me every session to just check up on me, figure out if I needed anything and see how I'm doing. She was definitely there to keep reminding me to take breaks because she knew how busy I was with everything going on. She taught me how important it is to have somebody you can talk to and to have a good support system. Just knowing that I could pick up a phone and call her and figure something out because she would always be there and knowing that I had options was tremendously helpful.

Q: What message or advice would you share for future first-year students?

A: I am a first-generation college student and an immigrant. When we came here, I was 9 years old. I still remember my first day at school when I didn't understand anybody. I didn't speak the language. I've always had this feeling of an outsider. … Even when I went to high school and when I was getting ready to go to college, I couldn't go to my mom and ask her how to do stuff. … After I got my bachelor's degree, that's when it kind of clicked. I realize I can always go and get help if I don't understand something. There's a process and there's always people to help. So my advice would be: If you really want it, you can do it. You can do anything.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I am planning to go on to get my PhD because I might as well finish the road. I'm also very interested in becoming a forensic psychologist. … That would be my ultimate dream goal to achieve because this profession does combine my passions in criminal justice and health care. That’s what I’ll be working toward and I'll see where I end up.

Emily Balli

Manager of marketing and communications, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

ASU honors college observes Black History Month with series of events

February 7, 2023

Black History Month, which takes place Feb. 1–March 1, is observed annually to commemorate people and events significant to the African diaspora.

Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University is observing the month, also called African American History Month, with education, art and history-focused events. Barrett has a long history of celebrating Black History Month as well as supporting and presenting on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives year-round.  Headshot of Kenturah Davis looking at the camera. Kenturah Davis will be the focus of an artist series event only open to honors students from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, in the Barrett Student Engagement Center at Vista del Sol on the ASU Tempe campus. Download Full Image

“Here at Barrett and ASU, it is important to celebrate the rich diversity that our community offers. During Black History Month we plan events and opportunities for students to learn about and celebrate others,” said Ashley Brand, director of student engagement at Barrett, The Honors College.

“As a component of one of our foundational programming pillars, Cultural Identity and Experience, these events encourage unity and a strong sense of community, allowing students to reflect on the meaning of diversity, equity and inclusion, while increasing the visibility, work and achievements of our Black community through academic and social programming,” she said.

On Feb. 6, Barrett, The Honors College at ASU's West campus hosted the "Heritage Circuit Event: Black History Month Discussion" on Black students’ relationship with public education in metropolitan Phoenix.

The discussion centered around educational innovations — such as ethnic studies curriculum, dual language programs and gifted programs — that have attracted Black families to metropolitan Phoenix who are seeking greater opportunities for their children than those available in other parts of the country or globe. Participants also talked about the efforts Black school board officials have made to make public education more equitable for all Arizona students.

The art of African American artist Kenturah Davis will be the focus of an artist series event only open to honors students from 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15, in the Barrett Student Engagement Center at Vista del Sol on the ASU Tempe campus.

According to her biography, Davis is a contemporary artist working in Los Angeles and Acra, Ghana. She produces art in many forms, including drawing, textiles, sculpture and performances. LA Metro commissioned Davis to create an artwork for the Crenshaw/LAX rail line. Her work has been included in institutional exhibitions in Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. Davis earned a Bachelor of Arts from Occidental College and a Master of Fine Arts at Yale University School of Art. Davis was an inaugural artist fellow at NXTHVN in New Haven, Connecticut.

Students, who will learn more about Davis and create artwork in her style using written text and rubber stamps, can reserve a space at the event here.

Headshot of  looking at the camera and wearing a suit.

Manu Karuka

This month's Barrett Honors Lecture Series will feature Manu Karuka, author of "Empire's Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the Transcontinental Railroad" and an assistant professor of American studies at Barnard College.

In his talk, scheduled for 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Barrett theater at Vista del Sol, Karuka will discuss W.E.B. Du Bois's arguments about the end of Reconstruction as the "counter-revolution of property" to consider questions of colonialism, racism and exploitation driving the expansion of the U.S. into the Southwest. RSVP for the event here.  

An event hosted by Barrett, The Honors College and its Black Student Association is being planned for March 1. Information about this event will be shared on Barrett's social media.