Language House Russian Cluster

Russian Cluster Alumni

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Messages from Russian Cluster Alumni


Anastasiya Filippova
(Russian Cluster, graduated 2014)

After graduation, I took a year to focus on my ballroom dancing, competing and teaching lessons. My dance partner and I have achieved excellent results this year, placing in almost every final of our competitions and just last month we ranked 3rd at the USA Dance National Competition making us the 3rd top couple in the country. I was then hired as an Office Coordinator to help mostly with administrative work, but very quickly was brought onto many team projects, as co-workers saw my multifaceted abilities and strengths.

Now I work on various different projects whether it be in production, communications, finance or client relations and feel very proud of my work because my co-workers are always pleased with my efficient and professional work ethic and creative thinking. I would like to say that the Language House was a huge part of developing these vital skills and provided me with the confidence to seek employment in a tough market. I learned so much as a mentor at the Language House and I am so grateful for having had that opportunity to gain many valuable leadership and life skills, which definitely helped strengthen my resume. Because of my work as a mentor, I am confident in my leadership abilities, and my enthusiasm and independence shines through in every project I take on. As much as I enjoyed my courses in Psychology in college, looking back, I think I was a lot more passionate about my position at the Language House as I really enjoyed organizing and helping with events, working with my cluster and being a part of a great group of leaders such as other mentors at the Language House (04-22-16)


Seda Kojoyman
(Russian Mentor, graduated 2012)

After graduating from UMD, I moved to Geneva, Switzerland for my Master's degree. It is a wonderful international town to live in, and several language house alums have visited me here - Kyle Milligan (French), Paul Massaro (German), Sanata Sy-Sahande (French), Camilla Yanushevsky (Russian).

I received my MA in International Affairs two years ago, and since then have been employed with an international health organization - the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

In the recent years, I have grown passionate about environmental issues, and am now looking to continue my work life in that field. Here is a photo of myself with some colleagues - promoting work-life balance at the Global Fund. I am on the far left. (03-22-16)

Jeremy Feldblyum
(Russian Cluster, graduated 2009)

I recently received my Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where I worked in polymer and materials chemistry and got to analyze materials with antimatter! I've accepted a research position in a group at Stanford University where I will work on the development of sensors made from organic electronics. Looking back, the decision to live at the Language House in my last year was one of the best choices I made during my undergraduate years. My Russian improved tremendously, and I gained many lasting friendships and reliable connections during my time there. (09-02-13)

Anna Nevo
(Russian Cluster, graduated 2008)

I have graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, CA. Living in California was great but I am happy to be back on the East Coast and I look forward to acquiring a job in my field, combining my degrees in psychology and terrorism studies. In the meantime, I still act as a Research Coordinator for a project at the Monterey Terrorism Research and Education Program (MonTREP), leading a team of ten researchers. (06-06-12)

Kirill Penteshin
(Russian Cluster, graduated 2006)

After graduating from UMD (and the Language House) I attended Yale Law School, where I worked closely with a number of labor unions and helped litigate a minimum wage and hour lawsuit on behalf of a group of low-wage restaurant workers. I currently work as a staff attorney at Unite Here Local 11 in Los Angeles, which represents thousands of hotel workers across the Los Angeles metro area. LA hotel workers, particularly housekeepers, many of whom are immigrants and women of color, work under extremely difficult conditions for little pay, and often suffer repetitive strain injuries as a result of their work. A strong union is their only guarantee of decent benefits, fair pay, and respect on the job.  As a lawyer at Unite Here, I help organize those workers without union representation, and help those who are unionized assert and defend their legal and collective bargaining rights.  

Language House was a defining part of my experience at Maryland, and a place where I made my best and closest friends. It really is a wonderful and extremely valuable program. (10-02-09)



Kevin Hawkins
(Russian Cluster, graduated 2002)

After graduating from UMD, I earned a master's in library and information science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I then worked at the University of Michigan Library for about ten years, except for two leaves of absence: one to accept a Fulbright grant to work with digital libraries in Russia and another to accept a temporary position with the Digital Humanities Observatory, a project of the Royal Irish Academy. Since 2014 I have worked at the University of North Texas Libraries, where I am currently assistant dean for scholarly communication.

I get to use my Russian by collaborating with Russian-speaking colleagues on editing some research publications, including by providing English translations. I love to attend and present at Russian-speaking conferences when possible. Recently I've managed to find the time to learn French, which has been lots of fun. (04-22-16)

Alla Kholodnov Omstead
(Russian Mentor, graduated 1993)

I had the great privilege and honor of serving as Russian mentor#2 after Yulia Goldfarb! It was truly one of the best experiences of my life and I still remember with great fondness, the cultural food week; the borscht was amazing!

After graduating University of Md.,  I had the pleasure of using my Russian to work with USAID interpreting for delegations from Russia and traveling with them around the US as they studied grassroots US politics.
I went on to work at several international law firms supporting joint business ventures with Russia.

While attending graduate school at George Washington University, I had the great pleasure of a study abroad in Organizational Development in Prague and Budapest. It was an amazing experience!

I then went on to get my Masters in counseling and am now practicing as a licensed professional counselor in Md. In addition to Russian, I also dabble in Hebrew and ASL. I am grateful to be able to use these languages even now in my work!

I am married and have twin boys. My kids attend Russian school where serve on the board of directors. I am working feverishly to keep the Russian Culture and Language in my children's lives.

I am forever grateful for the incredible opportunity of the Russian Language House and am so glad to be coming home to visit! (03-2-14)

Yulia Goldfarb
(Russian Mentor, graduated 1991)

Born in Moscow, I immigrated to the US at the age of 18 and served as the Russian mentor for the years 1989-1991. After graduating from the College of Life Sciences with a Magna Cum Laude, I went to the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. Upon completion of my pediatric residency at Penn State in Hershey, PA I came right back to the Terp territory and now work as a staff pediatrician at a medical assistance clinic in Baltimore, MD.

My years at the Language house are always remembered very fondly. Having caught the "multilingual bug" there, I had subsequently become fluent in Spanish and also dabbled in French. My most rewarding time at work is now spent seeing the families of immigrants from the Russian-speaking countries, as well as the growing Latin American community and French-speaking African immigrants.

In addition to my main work at the clinic, I enjoy hobbies that involve multicultural activities: salsa and tango dancing with a recent addition of playing guitar in a local community tango orchestra. I currently reside in Silver Spring with my husband and my young daughter. (02-20-14)

Darren Goode (Russian Cluster, graduated 1990)

I was one of the inaugural members of the Language House; living there in my senior year at UMCP (1989/1990). Graduated with a Russian Studies degree and have spent subsequent years serving as Director of Testing at George Mason University, then Director of Admissions at Ferrum College and currently as an employee benefits broker/consultant for Wells Fargo Insurance.

I remember my year at the Language House fondly. I remember the laughs, the get-togethers and the time spent with great friends. I am so pleased that the House is up and running strong. Does my heart proud.

I am currently married with a step-son and an English Mastiff. My hobbies include cigars, following politics, music (wish I could play an instrument!) and paranormal investigations. Yep, I said it. Guess it’s now official – I like to hunt ghosts.” (03-22-16)


Inna Tsys (RUSS, 2014) works as an Analyst at Dept. of Treasury, IRS, and go married recently. Her former cluster mates, Ian Myre (2013), Anastasia Filippova (2014), Karina Panyan (2014), and Anna LaBonte (2013) were among the guests at the wedding. Congratulations, Inna!