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Student Story

Antonina Horzov '22

Antonina Horzov, who hails from Ukraine, came to the United States on her own almost seven years ago as an international student. On the eve of Commencement, she reflected on being named the spring 2022 valedictorian and her time at St. Francis College (SFC). Horzov’s entire family remains back home in Ukraine and will not be present when she delivers her valedictory address.

How does it feel to be named valedictorian at this spring’s commencement?
It was completely unexpected, as I never strived to be valedictorian. My goal at St. Francis College was to do my best, get good grades and cover all the bases to obtain my degree. To be honest, the honor hasn’t fully sunk in yet. With all that is going on in my homeland, I can’t fully appreciate it right now, but I will. I know it’s a big deal here to be named valedictorian.

Why did you choose to pursue a B.S./M.S. in accounting at St. Francis College?
I have a bachelor’s degree in English language from a Ukrainian university. When I moved to New York, I began studying office administration at ASA College but quickly changed my major to business and obtained my associate’s degree. I had friends who attended St. Francis College and learned about scholarship opportunities for international students, so I transferred here to get my bachelor’s in accounting. The fact that SFC offers a combined B.S./M.S. I found convenient and appealing.

What professor, classroom experience or extracurricular activity at SFC had the greatest impact on your success here?
The entire accounting department — Professor Kathleen Mills, Dr. Carmine Nogara, Dr. Louis D’Elia, Professor John Lombardo — brings years of experience in the field to the table. They share real-life examples and give practical advice. I would add that the overall environment at St. Francis College is great. It’s a tight-knit community. You feel supported. As an international student, I faced the prospect of deportation in the early part of the pandemic, but the College really fought for me to stay. It had my back.

What personal qualities allowed you to achieve at SFC?
I have a rule I always go by: When you do something, put your whole heart and mind into it. I work and go to school full-time. Some people call me an over-achiever, but if I place high expectations on myself, it’s only because I sincerely believe I can achieve them.

What did it mean to you to attend college in New York City?
Prior to coming to New York, I spent two summers in small towns in Virginia and Massachusetts, respectively, thanks to a work and travel program. The first time I took a walk in Manhattan, it felt very different. I was impressed by the tall buildings, the people rushing everywhere, the energy. I knew I wanted to be here. The concrete jungle really appeals to me!

What’s next for you?
I will be working as the office manager of a dental clinic in Brooklyn while I study to pass the CPA Exam. My father is a dentist, and growing up, I knew I did not want to study medicine or dentistry. The irony that I now work at a dental clinic is not lost on me. Once I get my CPA license, though, I will dive headlong into my accounting career.

Editor's note: Watch Horzov's May 18 interview on PIX11 News.

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