Zhanna White and FamilyVOICES OF OUR STUDENTS

A Celebration of Pride

By ZHANNA WHITE ’20

Let me give you a little idea of what my life was like before I was accepted into Salem State. At the age of two, I was adopted by two wonderful people, my parents David and Karen White. I was born in Kharkov, Ukraine and immediately was placed in an orphanage. Fed on not even a dollar a day I was malnourished, weighing less than 15 pounds at the age of two.

When my parents committed to taking me home to the United States they knew they could give me my best chance at life. They have supported me through everything -- from making sure I got the best education, to helping me move far away from Florida to Salem, Massachusetts to attend college. And for that I want to thank them for never giving up on me and for being such great role models.

I would like to share some aspects about Salem State from a student's vantage point. First and foremost: My professors are truly committed to student success, as proven by their attention and involvement with the student population. My professors have such a passion for their subject matter, which translates into igniting students’ interest. The class sizes are small and intimate, it is clear I am not just not an insignificant number here. No matter what, there is always a staff member accessible. My first impression of Salem State was cemented by my initial call -- and a person answered the phone, not a recording. That’s unheard of today.

There are many activities on campus and it is impossible to become bored. From sporting events, to theatre performances, to observation decks to admire the stars, to fitness work-outs, there is something for everyone. Also, students burning so much energy studying need nourishment: the cafeterias offer a wide variety of nutritious meals.

My freshman year was incredible. I had the good fortune of being selected for the First Year Experience. With this program, I arrived on campus before classes started and volunteered in the Salem community. This was my way to give back to a community that supports the Salem State students.

Similarly, I volunteered at the start of my sophomore year to help other students transition into their dorm rooms. My next great decision was joining a sorority that is civic-minded with a cohesive sisterhood. As a matter-of-fact, currently I hold the position of Parents Chair for Phi Sigma Sigma.

Also, I scored a job with the Salem State police department and really enjoyed this position. I am a member of Colleges Against Cancer and help with fundraisers for this worthy cause. So, you see, there are so many great choices for the students. You can tailor your activities to your interests. For example, even though not formally in the orchestra, I am allowed to play my cello for a recording that will help another student complete a final project. These past two years went so fast, I cannot wait to see what these next two years will hold.

Whether you knew Salem State as a college or university, today I see a room full of individuals with one thing in common -- our love for Salem State. I had the opportunity to network with many Salem State alumni, such as Rob Millwee ’09, who has been such an amazing role model and friend.

When Hurricane Irma hit, I immediately reached out to Rob, who lives in Florida, and asked if everything was okay and I was so happy that it was. If I had never stepped out of my comfort zone last year and attended this event, I would never have met such amazing people and gained such an amazing friend.

I am very impressed with this elite group of alumni and hope I can follow in your footsteps. Your stories have encouraged me to work harder and really take advantage of the superior education Salem State has to offer. And maybe I can become part of the alumni base that makes a huge difference in communities around the world.

Thank you.

Zhanna White is studying for a career in public relations. She spoke of the great pride that our alumni and friends have for the institution at the St. Patrick’s Day parade luncheon in Florida.