16 years ago, Lyudmyla Kostyk left her home and travelled to New York City in the hopes of pursuing a degree in nursing. At the time, she left her two children, Oksana and Pavlo Vivchar, with her parents in their home — nearly 5,000 miles away in Ukraine.
This week, Kostyk will be graduating with a Bachelors of Science degree in nursing from UNM.
But she will not be alone. Kostyk’s daughter, Oksana, will be joining her mother on this highly anticipated day, with her own bachelor’s degree in biology.
Kostyk began her pursuit of nursing 26 years ago, when she received a nursing qualification from a Ukraine medical college.
She worked in Ukraine in a labor and delivery department until 2001 when she decided to take her passion to New York City. There she attended LaGuardia Community College and received her associate’s degree.
While in New York, Kostyk’s children were starting down their own educational paths in Ukraine, with her son studying at a law academy and her daughter in a medical college. They spent their summers travelling back and forth to the United States to visit their mother.
Kostyk’s next stop was Albuquerque, where her goal was to receive a nursing license. She began by taking prerequisite courses at CNM, eventually enrolling in the College of Nursing at UNM.
After finishing their own schooling in the Ukraine, Kostyk’s children were then able to join her in Albuquerque.
For her, it was most important to set an example for her children.
“I have to show them myself through experience. They need to learn English so that they will feel like a human being here,” she said. “When they graduated in Ukraine, they were able to come here and continue their education. I told them, ‘Before looking for a job, you have to study.’”
Kostyk’s daughter decided to follow her mother’s career path in nursing, after seeing her work when she was a child.
“It was another experience because I came to the United States by myself and I didn’t really have much time to spend with my kids. They grew up with my parents. So this was exciting,” she said.
Kostyk said she even took two classes with her daughter.
“I loved it,” she said. “One of the instructors said that she felt sorry for my daughter that she was in the same class as her mom. I don’t know why. We were both excited to be together. It was actually my daughter’s idea to take the classes together.”
Kostyk and Vivchar will now be graduating with their degrees on the same day and celebrating later with friends and family.
Kostyk said she is so proud of both her and her daughter’s accomplishments in school.
Her daughter recently was chosen as a speaker at a CNM graduation ceremony, and is currently active in the UNM Golden Key Honor International Society and Pre-Med Society.
Kostyk is working at Lovelace downtown in the medical surgical department, where she was a recipient of several Daisy Awards for extraordinary nurses. After graduating, she hopes to find a job at UNMH and return to her roots in labor and delivery.
Gabriela Garcia Huff is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @thegreen_gablin.