As a multilingual student, Natalja Karniouchina seemed to be a perfect fit as vice president for cultural diversity on the Associated Students Board. However, when she first started, she was a stranger to the position and wanted to learn more about it.
“I didn’t know anything about AS at that point,” she said.
Karniouchina spoke to Michael Lance, the chief justice of the AS to learn more about AS.
She was one of the two finalists and returned with a 24-page plan and video presentation.
“I really had to research what cultural diversity meant for the AS and at PCC,” she said.
Over the year she put that 24-page plan into action hosting events such as the Hunger Banquet, which opened many students’ eyes to the stark realities of third-world cultures amongst other events.
“I hope that we brought together people and showed them new cultures to them,” she said.
As a sign of her characteristic modesty, she attributes the committee’s accomplishments this year to the people in it.
“I was surrounded by a lot of amazing people in the committee. They all had these unique qualities and are able to bring in so many different people in to the events,” she said.
But perhaps her unique qualities are what made her the best candidate to lead the Cultural Diversity committee.
Karniouchina was born in the Ukraine and after the collapse of the Soviet Union her family moved to Stockholm, Sweden where Karniouchina grew up and attended Jewish schools. She learned how to speak Russian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and also English. She also learned Spanish and French in high school.
Karniouchina came to the U.S. after high school to pursue a career in the music industry. She attended the Los Angeles Music Academy in Pasadena where she focused on vocal training.
“It was an intense experience. The Academy is open 24 hours a day and you train with some well known musicians,” Karniouchina said.
She was close to graduating from the program with dreams to immerse herself in Cuba and Sweden’s music scene when she met her current boyfriend Anthony Lockett. Lockett convinced her that she should earn a Bachelor’s degree as a safety net in case the music industry didn’t work out for her.
“I told her she could get into the music industry at any time,” said Lockett.
After deliberation, she decided to attend PCC in hopes of transferring but she had to return to Sweden to deal with a family crisis.
While in Sweden, she began working for a prestigious investment bank. Karniouchina soon became a key member of the company. So key, in fact, that she was offered an opportunity to have her education paid for by the company.
“I turned that offer down because I wanted to continue my education in the United States,” said Karniouchina.
That offer could have helped Karniouchina now as she weighs her options for transferring. As an international student her tuition is significantly higher.
Despite the financial setback, she is still determined to achieve a good education with an ultimate goal of attending Harvard Law School.
Last semester, Karniochina took 21 units, was one of Professor David Uranga’s teacher’s assistants, and also participated as the founder of the International Culture Club, on top of running the cultural diversity committee.
“It took a lot of discipline and an inner network to rely on. Without them I would not be able to do what I did,” she said.
Redbull and Coffee was key to her survival. But survive she has, and as she decides where to transfer, those who have been around here are convinced that she is destined for success.
“Her ambition and drive are unparalleled,” said Nolan Pack, who was Karniouchina’s vice chair. “I think a lot of her drive comes from having a fresh perspective on America. She’s not as jaded as those who have lived here their whole lives,” Pack said.