“I believe in reciprocity, and the power of education. If there are ten people who can give a little at a time, this small gesture will add up and make a difference in a student’s life. This is why I give to NMC. Because it makes a difference.”
How did you get to NMC from Belarus?
My family moved to Florida from Belarus when I was 20. I wanted to go somewhere different for college and was drawn to Michigan given the abundance of water. NMC became the perfect fit as it is positioned directly on Grand Traverse Bay.
What’s your NMC story?
My time at NMC was very positive. What a wonderful community of caring people! The abundance of outdoor opportunities to hike, enjoy the water, and enjoy the culture downtown were definitely complimentary pieces to academics at NMC. Faculty and staff cared deeply about my academic success and I was able to make long-lasting friendships. The faculty taught me to love learning and care about the local community.
What NMC faculty or staff impacted you?
My English professor, Nancy Parshall, was someone who continuously inspired me to do and be more. She believed in her calling as an educator and she invested in me. Furthermore, the NMC Writing Center empowered me to develop confidence as a writer and my appreciation for listening. More than anything, I am humbled to have met so many talented people who I consider to be my friends today.
How did you go from NMC to Fifth Third Bank?
I completed my bachelor’s degree at Grand Valley State University with a major in international relations and a Spanish minor. A breakthrough for me was an internship at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, DC which focused on political and cultural developments in Latin America. The experience in DC translated into an internship at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan where I fell in love with the Hispanic community of western Michigan and its culture.
The Fifth Third branch where I am employed primarily serves the Hispanic population of Grand Rapids. My Spanish minor and multi-cultural background helped me be highly successful at what I do; my cultural competencies are a game-changer professionally. I love the idea of serving the local community and believe that’s exactly what I do every day when I go to work.
Why do you support the NMC Annual Fund Campaign?
When I was a student at NMC and then later at GVSU, I was fortunate to access some financial assistance in the form of scholarships or awards. I believe in reciprocity, and the power of education. If there are ten people who can give a little at a time, this small gesture will add up and make a difference in a student’s life. This is why I give to NMC. Because it makes a difference.
Alena Hontarava is an International Development Researcher at Fifth Third bank in Grand Rapids.
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