Name: Yuliya (Kostromitina) Dennis
Hometown: I now live in Corvallis, Oregon, but I have lived in Russian, Ukraine, and Salem, OR
High School: McKay High School
College/University: Oregon State University
Year in school: last year as a graduate student
Major: College Student Services Administration
Activities Involved in On Campus: This year I am mostly involved with the OSU Memorial Union Program Council and Student Events and Activities Center. I am a part of many random events and activities around campus.
What/who was the biggest influence on your decision to go to college?
I think the biggest influence was from my GEAR UP advisor and my close friends. My parents couldn’t help me with college applications or decisions because they didn’t go to college and they didn’t know English that well, so it was my friends who really helped me process everything. My GEAR UP advisor was Mrs. Shreeve, and she really supported me through my junior and senior year of high school. I still kept in touch with her because she was such a help to me.
What is one of the best things about college?
I loved having more freedom to explore in classes, activities, and with new friendships. I really grew into my own person during the first couple of years of college life. In high school, there wasn’t as many opportunities to pick classes, there weren’t that many clubs to join, and there was a general limit on involvement. At OSU, there were hundreds of classes, clubs, and many chances to make new friends. While at first it was overwhelming, I learned to navigate the many choices and loved everything about college.
What was your most memorable GEAR UP moment?
I was lucky enough to go to two different conferences as a GEAR UP representative. The first conference consisted of 40 high school students from GEAR UP programs across the United States. We all met up in Washington DC, went to various sessions, and prepared a presentation for GEAR UP advisors and mentors. The second conference was a GEAR UP conference in London, England. Four students from the first conference were able to go and represent the US in an international high school conference. Those were very memorable and some of the best parts of my high school days.
What are your future career plans?
I am finishing up a master’s degree in College Student Services. After I finish, I plan on continuing to work with college students to improve services that are offered by colleges. I really like Corvallis, so I am planning on working at Oregon State, Linn Benton Community College, Western Oregon, Linfield, or some other institution near Corvallis. I am excited to be in this field since the student affairs professionals made a big difference in my life as a young person.
What advice do you have for students currently in middle and high school GEAR UP programs?
I would say ask your GEAR UP advisors and mentors any questions you may have about college. They love to help and provide answers. Also, find people who can help you with the process of applying, it can be confusing at first. And lastly, make a plan to go to college and don’t let things get in the way. Just go for it and it’ll happen for you!