It’s a warm afternoon at Pasadena City College. Room C345 at the writing center is swarming with students occupying most of the tables and computers. Some people are working on their essays, research papers and all sorts of English writings.

Liza Nechay is a 22 year old student from Ukraine, her major is Psychology and she is also an English tutor here at PCC. She says that if anybody said that she would be a tutor one day, she would have never believed them. Nechay never felt or thought that she was good in English.

“I know how to write and I like the process of creating an essay,” said Nechay. “But I never believed that it was enough. Nevertheless, it was my English 1A professor who made this possible. I was doing well in his class and sometimes, I even helped my classmates with the assignments, so he encouraged me to keep going and recommended me to be a tutor.”

Nechay says that she wasn’t sure that she was good enough for this position, but then she decided to try. Although it’s only been 2 months so far, she says that she definitely likes it. She helps people to increase their confidence through their writing, provides them with various writing techniques and helps students become better writers.

“Assisting students also helps me to improve my skills,” said Nechay. “And I will always be grateful for this chance. Now, I am so happy that I followed the given advice and took this path that undoubtedly will lead me to many other discoveries and achievements.”

Nechay, who just received the Student of the Year Award at the 4th Annual Honors Program Awards Dinner on May 16, said that she would ideally like to transfer to UC Berkeley or Davis.

That’s her plan, but she’s also aware of the fact that everything could change.

“I chose a Psychology major, because I am interested in how the brain works,” said Nechay. “Especially how different chemicals, such as neurotransmitters, affect the way we feel and behave. I think that it’s really fascinating how those chemicals determine our actions.”

Nechay came to the U.S. almost three years ago with her parents and her dog. Her grandmother lives here in LA and they all came to join her. She used to have homemade food, and that’s also how she learned to cook, partly because they don’t have a lot of money in her country.

According to Nechay, Ukraine is not very good with finances, and having a car there is considered to be a luxury, even the cheapest one. She likes living in the USA and she’s grateful for the opportunities she has here.

Jobwise, frankly, I don’t know what I’ll do. I didn’t decide yet,” said Nechay. “There are so many opportunities that I just want to keep studying and see what is out there for me. I’m open to many things. I’m a believer, I want to believe in it. So, if I work hard and if I do my best, I’m capable of getting something good in my life and I’m capable of having a good life.”

She moved here when she realized that living in her country wasn’t going to work.

“I respect my culture, and I remember my roots,” Nechay said. “I want my children to know their roots and their heritage, but I don’t want them to live there, at least not now, because of the economic crisis, zero opportunity and zero perspective. Zero chances to live a decent life.”

According to Nechay, living in poverty isn’t living but surviving, and she doesn’t want her future family living that way. She doesn’t intend to live in LA forever. She’s open to new places, and since she’s young, she can easily move to other states. Ultimately, Nechay would like to live in a country, either the US or Europe, where she will have the possibility to be financially stable and offer a better future to her family.

Baylie Raddon, one of Liza’s co-workers at the English Writing Center likes Nechay’s ways and what she brings to the tutors’ table, literally and metaphorically.

“She’s very bubbly and so sweet,” said Raddon. “She wants to know so much about everyone, and she’s very generous. She always brings in treats that she’s made by hand. She’s a very sweet person.”

Another co-worker at the English Writing Center is Ashley Hernandez. She has only known Nechay for about a month but she is amazed by how advanced and professional Nechay is.

“She has a really big personality, but she’s also very kind,” said Hernandez. “She’s very sarcastic and witty, kind of always joking but in a nice way. She always says that she’s an active and adventurous person, and she likes to go for hikes. She’s also a great cook. Once she brought borsch for everybody, a typical Ukrainian dish, a type of beef soup, and it was delicious.”

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