“Opportunity Funds Program” – Promoting Mutual Understanding, One Person at a Time

Novosibirsk student Nikita Korolko is heading from one world-class scientific community to another; leaving the research university at Akademgorodok to pursue a PhD at Harvard University in Boston. “From my perspective studying abroad is a great experience for young people. You can improve your intellectual abilities by learning and using a foreign language,” Nikita stated. He’s going to work on his PhD at Harvard’s School of Applied Engineering and Science, which he hopes will lead to a career as a college professor. He said that “having taken into account my academic and pedagogic progress as well as my inexhaustible love for the beauty of mathematics and its applications, I have firmly decided to pursue an academic career.”

Many Russian students choose to study abroad each year and about 5,000 decide to do so in the United States. However, the application process and difficulty of applying from abroad can seem daunting to Russian candidates, since the entire procedure is very different than what they go through to get into university here. Nikita sought out help at the Novosibirsk Educational Advising Center, one part of the network of centers across Russia. There, he worked with Natalya, one of the advisors, who he said provided him with “not only detailed informational and educational assistance, but also moral support.” Russian students can either visit one of the nine centers located across Russia or sign up for virtual advising through the internet.

Nikita took advantage of one of the unique offerings of the Educational Advising Centers, the Opportunity Funds program.  Opportunity Funds program helps students applying for university in the U.S. by providing them with funds to cover the cost of entrance exams, application fees, and even their plane ticket to the United States. This helped Nikita get accepted to the University of Minnesota, the University of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and, of course, Harvard, where he was given a full scholarship.

Not content to just take advantage of the programs offered by the Educational Advising Center, Nikita has also decided to volunteer and help lead workshops to prepare other students for the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL, exam, one of the entrance requirements for foreign applicants to U.S. Universities. Nikita knows that studying at Harvard and living so far away from home are going to be difficult, but these challenges fit in with his personal philosophy which posits “that great victories are reached by means of persistent and thorough work.”