Success Stories

Elena Nazarova

Elena spent much of her childhood at Orphanage #4.  After graduating from there in 2006, she successfully entered Odessa Teacher's Training University where she went on to earn a specialist's degree certificate (which is a step higher than a bachelor's degree).  Elena decided to go even further and continued studying for her master's degree, which she earned in May, 2012.



Yakov Belik

Yakov graduated from Orphanage #5 in 2008.  He is currently working on earning not just one college degree, but three!  Yakov is in his fifth year at Odessa Computer Academy "Step" where he studies web-design.  He also studies management by correspondence at Odessa Polytechnic University.  In summer of 2012, Yakov earned a bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of Ukraine correspondence department.  




Tasya Mladinova

Tasya Mladinova graduated from Orphanage #4 in 2008. Afterward, she enrolled at Odessa Basic Medical School and spent two years earning the degree certificate of a laboratory assistant.  Upon graduating from Odessa Basic Medical School, Tasya was passionate about continuing her studies in medicine. The only problem? Her orphan status paperwork and passport were incorrect, which prevented Tasya from enrolling at Odessa State Medical University. UAC’s Scholarship Program Director, Peter Panin, spent several months helping Tasya reprocess dozens of documents which were necessary for admission to medical school. Their persistence finally paid off, as Tasya describes here in a letter to Clara Pascal:

“…I want to tell you that I succeeded to enter Odessa State Medical University this summer! It was dreadfully hard but I had UAC’s Peter. He is a wonderful person and he helped me very much. He gave maximum effort and did everything he could. And we succeeded. Everything was against us and we had a lot of obstacles, but with God’s help we went through all of them and I was accepted. Peter did not have to accompany me everywhere I went to process my documents, but he did and I’m very thankful to him for that. You know, when I told Peter that I would like to enter medical school but that I didn’t have any chances (of getting in), he said that everything was possible. Nobody believed that I could do it. I prayed and God gave me Peter’s help. I had many problems with my passport and orphan documents and we reprocessed them. Now, looking back at everything we went through, I am just astonished that we didn’t give up half-way and that we finally succeeded.” 

Tasya is now an industrious second year student at Odessa State Medical University. Her most recent accomplishments include an internship at a neonatal hospital, and the completion of advanced level English courses at the American English Center. 



Alexey Speransky

Alexey is a graduate from Orphanage #5 who went on to earn a degree certificate from Odessa Chef School #26.  He is now working as the head chef of his shift at a prestigious restaurant in Odessa.  Alexey is pictured here wearing an Illinois sweatshirt from his longtime Scholarship Program sponsor Sue Cain!  


Alena Zhuravskaya

Alena Zhuravskaya spent much of her youth at Odessa Orphanage #7 for children with physical handicaps (she was born with cerebral spastic infantile paralysis) before graduating from Ananyev town orphanage in 2011. In 2012, she completed a one year vocational school program at Odessa Professional School #33. With a desire to further her education, Alena worked hard to apply to Belgorod Teacher's School.  After passing entrance exams on Ukrainian language and biology and fulfilling other entrance requirements, Alena was accepted into the Preschool Teaching Department at this well-respected university!  Her teachers have reported that she is at the top of her class with respect to knowledge of the English language. Outside of school, Alena volunteers her time at local orphanages, where the children adore her.


Sasha Malenky

Alexander (Sasha) Malenky joined the UAC Orphaned Teen Scholarship Program in 2009 after graduating from Orphanage #7 (a facility for children with physical handicaps). As a child, Sasha defied all odds by surviving a 10,000 volt electrocution followed by two bouts of unconsciousness and a mile-long crawl to his village to seek medical help. When Sasha finally reached a hospital, his body was burned all over, with holes in his head, torso and arms. Both his feet, half of his right hand and the fingers on his left hand were all amputated. Doctors predicted that Alexander would die due to the severity of his injuries. 
But Sasha had other plans. He fought to recover and even learned to walk on his new artificial limbs before they were fully made. Walking lead to running, and then came numerous wins at track and field competitions. Nothing would stop this boy! 
Ambition, determination and willpower remained in Sasha's core well beyond his childhood near-death experience. In summer of 2012, Mr. Malenky graduated from Odessa Professional School #33. His other accomplishments include learning to type on a computer (with limited hand/finger use), learning to drive a car, and supporting his wife and young daughter. 

Maxim Timotin

Maxim Timotin is a class of 2010 graduate from Kotovsk Orphanage. He is now completing his third year at Odessa Vocational School of Odessa Frost Academy, where he is set to graduate in April, 2013. Over the past few years, Maxim has dedicated himself to fighting for the rights of orphaned and displaced children and teens. He appeared on TV for the first time when he went to City Hall and to the media to point out the poor conditions (no heat, bare electric, dirty) of the dorm rooms that are given to orphans compared to the rooms given to non-orphan students. As a result, the director of his vocational school was forced to upgrade the rooms where the orphans were living. Maxim went to the media a second time to expose some of the deplorable conditions at Fontanka Boy's Home, which in turn lead to inspections of the facility and increased community awareness of orphans' living conditions. Mr. Timotin hopes to attend Odessa Law Academy and start his own charitable organization focused on defending orphans' rights and making orphans equal members of society. He shares his story below:

Hello!  My name is Maxim Timotin. I was born on January 4, 1994 in Belgorod-Dnestrovsky town. First I was sent to a children’s home there, and then, in 2001, I was directed to the first grade at Kotovsk Town Orphanage. I studied there for nine years and after graduating from there in 2010, I entered Odessa Vocational School of Odessa Frost Academy. I am a third year student there. I learned about the UAC Scholarship Program from my dorm mates and from UAC’s Alla Belaya. I was happy to be accepted into the program! The Scholarship Program really does good things for orphans and orphanages. I am glad that I got to know many good people like John Nickleach (UAC Ukraine volunteer) and others. I wish there were more people who are not indifferent to orphans’ lives, because when children graduate from orphanages, they face great difficulties and end up alone in this cruel world. It’s good that there is an organization like yours!

After entering my vocational school, students started having problems getting their State scholarships and conditions in our dorm were very bad. Thanks to the help of some state deputies and mass media, we solved these problems. On April 25th this year I am graduating from my school. While at my vocational school, I not only spent time for my studies, but also helped my friends-- fellow orphans. I worked not only to solve problems of students at my school, but also problems of children who study in different orphanages like Fontanka Boy’s Home and Kotovsk Town Orphanage.

In the future I plan to enter Odessa Law Academy because many children crossing the threshold of an orphanage do not know their rights and do not receive what they are supposed to get from the State. I want to inform them about their rights and give other legal help to displaced children. I want to continue helping orphans, and right now I am starting to establish my own charitable organization. We will have our own office where children can come to discuss their problems. I really want our orphans to be considered humans and to be treated like humans in our state. Now, I look for support in this cause.

While studying at my vocational school, I have also been a participant of the UAC Scholarship Program. Clara, I am thankful to you for supporting and helping us, for your care and love! I also thank you for my sponsor, who keeps caring about me very much, and I am grateful to John Nickleach who found me my sponsor. He recently visited Odessa again and we spent a very good time together.

With respect to UAC Organization,

Maxim Timotin. 


Ruslan Shayenko

Ruslan was a former student at Orphanage #5 who joined the Scholarship Program after finishing 11th grade.  In spring of 2012 he earned his degree certificate from Odessa Chef School #54. Ruslan is now living on his own and has an excellent job as a baker at a bread factory in Odessa.



Anastasia Ivanova

Anastasia graduated from Orphanage #5 in 2010 and is now a successful student at Odessa Teacher's College.  She began participating in Thai boxing in fifth grade and since then has won numerous boxing titles and competitions in Thailand and abroad.   


Alexander Enchev

Alexander Enchev was the first orphan to ever attend Odessa National Law Academy. He graduated near the top of his class. He is pictured here with his girlfriend and fellow UAC scholarship student Natasha Gavrilenko, who graduated in 2010 from Kharkov National Pharmaceutical University. 



Vlada Bruess

Vlada Bruess from the class of 2002 is now a successful lawyer working in Odessa.  




Olga Maximova

Olga graduated from Orphanage #5 back in 1999. After completing her training at Odessa Hair Dresser's Professional School, she decided to continue her education in the field of teaching. Olga wanted to focus on special education and be able to help children with special needs, such as those at Orphanage #34. For over five years, she worked hard toward her master's degree from National Teacher's University by M.P. Dragomanov. Her academic program included multiple trips to Kiev (covered significantly by the UAC Orphaned Teen Scholarship Program) for practical work and exams. In March, 2012 Olga successfully defended her master's thesis and received the highest grade possible. At last, her dream of earning a master's degree came true!



Olga Korotyan

Olga was a former student at Orphanage #4 and Orphanage #9.  With the help of UAC's Scholarship Program, she completed five years of college studies and successfully defended her degree work.  Olga graduated from Odessa Academy of Food Technologies in June, 2011. 



Alevtina (Alya) Gnatyuk

Alya Gnatyuk graduated in 2010 with her master's degree from Odessa State Teaching University, Art Department. She is the first student in the UAC Scholarship Program to graduate with a master's degree. We are very proud of her! 



Alexander Zhos

Alexander (Sasha) Zhos was a founding member of the UAC Orphaned Teen Scholarship Program.  In 1997, he addressed Clara Pascal about helping orphanage graduates obtain higher education and support outside of the orphanage.  In turn came the birth of the Scholarship Program!  Sasha graduated from Odessa National Maritime Academy with the assistance of the Scholarship Program.  He is now working as a 3rd class engineering seaman, travelling the world! 

“In the year 1997, Clara Pascal came to Odessa to visit us at Orphanage #4. My life story has been connected with her ever since. Clara helped me out during the first and most important stages of my adult life. She organized the Scholarship Program and it helped me enter Odessa National Maritime Academy, where I studied for six years. When I studied at the academy, Clara not only gave me financial assistance for my studies, but she also gave me the feeling that there was a person who was concerned about me. Her visits to Odessa were real holidays for everyone. 

When I graduated from Maritime Academy, I set sail as an engineer of the 3rd class and went half way around the world. My routes have included Italy, India, America, the Panama Channel, Mexico, French Polynesia, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine.

I am very thankful to Clara and the Scholarship Program for all that help and support which was so crucial in my life!” –A. Zhos




Sasha on board the ship where he works as an engineering seaman.   





Alla Belaya

Alla was in the first class of the Scholarship Program back in 1998. She has her degree in education from the Teaching University in Odessa and she taught at the Orphanage for the Blind. Alla is now working as a UAC Scholarship Program assistant!  This is a beautiful testament to the endurance and success of our program.  Alla shares her story below:

Hello, my name is Alla Belaya. I was born in Odessa, Ukraine in a very unfortunate family of many children. When I turned one year old, I was sent to Orphanage # 3. My childhood and my school years were spent in the orphanages of Odessa. Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of being able to work with kids just like me. In 1998, I graduated from Orphanage # 4 (high school) and was accepted into the University of Physical Education and Rehabilitation due to UAC’s Scholarship Program and Clara Pascal . While studying at the university, I was blessed with an opportunity to work with kids from orphanages which was a tremendous help for my studies and my career development. Because of the Scholarship Program, I was able to put into practice my knowledge attained at the university with the kids from various orphanages and facilities such as the reception center for troubled children, Orphanage #34 (for kids with mental disabilities), orphanages #4 and #5, and Juvenile Center of Fontanka . Such practice not only helped me improve my work with children, but also led to a better awareness of children's psychology. I am very proud of being capable of influencing these kids by passing on the goodness and great values gained from personal experience.

I have been working for the UAC Scholarship Program for two years now. I am happy to provide needed attention to the kids and to be of a great help to them. I am endlessly thankful for the chance to help these kids solve some of their most difficult problems. It is more than just a job to me; It is a part of me, because I can relate to these children in every way. I am delighted to bring my share of knowledge and experience in such a noble matter. I am very grateful to the UAC program and Clara Pascal for making my childhood dream of working with children of my background come true.


Alla Belaya.


American Girl Winner!

Julia D.
Age 11, Florida

Julia’s project:
Julia made a really beautiful book that tells her life story in photos and in her own words. Julia was born in Ukraine and lived in an orphanage for six years.

She had problems with her right leg, but surgery didn’t help. After she was adopted by her American Family, she had to have her leg removed. Julia uses an artificial leg now, and her determination to be like any other American girl has helped her to learn how to dance ballet, be a cheerleader, play soccer, ice-skate and even ride a bicycle!

Judge’s comments about her project:
"Her determination shows on every page.
'She never gave up,' This girl is unstoppable!"

Julia’s favorite part of AG Magazine:
The crafts

Julia’s favorite part of the cover shoot:
Having her picture taken!


Tatia na Litvanova

  Tatiana Litvanova was abandoned at age 5 and raised in the orphanages of Odessa. With the assistance of UAC’s Orphaned Teen Scholarship Program, Tatiana is now finishing pharmaceutical school.  She shares her story in the letter below:


I’m very glad to share my story with you.

My name is Tanya Litvanova. Probably, you know me from the first publication but if you don’t, in any case, my life has changed a lot since then.

So, I wanted to be a pediatrician and at the beginning everything was happening according to my plan. Then, I fell in love with my classmate, Dmitry, and now we are the Litvinovs family. When our son was born we named him David. He is 5 already. I had to revise my plans because I couldn’t keep attending classes daily, so I decided to move to study by correspondence, Pharmacist Specialty. And, as I saw, it was not in vain. Now, I’m finishing my fifth year and already have the chance to work as a pharmacist. I work at one of the oldest drugstores of our city, “Gayevskago & Popovskago”. I work night shifts so far. The knowledge which I gained studying in the Pediatrician Department and my medical assistant certificate help me very much in my work. I’m glad that my life is developing in the best way. I thank Clara Pascal and the Scholarship Program team for their support very much.

Thank you for being near us!

Tatiana Litvanova



Larissa Zaretskaya

Larissa is a class of 2011 law school graduate and TB survivor.  She exemplifies how an orphan's life can be dramatically changed when someone believes in them. 

Hello, everybody!

My name is Larissa Zaretskaya and I would like to tell you about my life. Thanks to UAC and Clara Pascal, I am healthy and educated! I thank God that I have UAC and Clara. She is very supportive of me!

When I was a teenager and studied at Kotovsk orphanage, I could only dream about studying at a university. I kept a diary then and wrote in it that I would like to study at a university, but it would not be possible: I had neither money nor enough knowledge. I worried about my future very much!

But God helps and takes care of me!

When I finished the ninth grade in Kotovsk orphanage, I was sent to an orphanage in Odessa for grades 10-11.  There I heard about Clara’s organization and how she helps orphan graduates. When I became a graduate myself, I was very glad to learn that Clara wanted to meet and talk with all of us. I remember when I met Clara the first time…I was very surprised how considerate she was to each of us! She asked me what I was interested in and where I would like to study. It was astonishing because nobody before was interested in my life and my future. Then there was a person who wanted to help me!  Thanks to Clara and the UAC Scholarship Program, I just graduated from Odessa National Maritime University, Law Department.  It was my dream, and God made it a reality! But that is not the end of my story!

When I was 17, I became extremely sick with pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). I remember my suffering:  I was so young and so sick already! I underwent two operations, and during those difficult times Clara and the UAC staff took care of me.  They paid for my treatment and supported me both morally and financially. When Ukrainian medicine didn’t help, Clara found a hospital in Russia where I was able to stay for 18 months in a specialized program for treating tuberculosis. The treatment was expensive and I never would have been able to pay for it on my own! But God is gracious and UAC sent money for my treatment every month. The TB treatment program was very effective-- Now I am healthy and have forgotten about my disease for over six years! 

I live in a communal apartment which Clara and UAC helped me rent as well. I didn’t have enough money and our dear Clara added the remaining amount.  I can write about her mercy and kind deeds for a long time because she helped me so many times and with so much!!!

From the bottom of my heart, I thank God for Clara, for her kind heart, care and trust in orphanage children like myself!

With all my heart I pray for everyone who is part of the UAC Ukraine organization because many of us—including me personally—received significant help from UAC in order to begin our adult lives!

Dear Clara, I love you very much and you will always be in my heart!!!

With gratitude,

Larissa Zaretskaya


Ilona Sukhanova

Ilona's childhood was filled with tragedies: Her father died before she was even born, and her step-father, mother and grandmother all passed away in subsequent years.  She spent most of her youth living at Orphanage #5, where she successfully graduated from in 2006. After a year of practicing English in the U.S. as an exchange student, Ilona returned to Ukraine and enrolled in the UAC Scholarship Program and Odessa University of Economy.  She became the proud holder of a master's degree in 2012.  In addition to this academic accomplishment, Ilona mastered English and is now able to serve as a translator for UAC Ukraine Program staff and volunteers. 


Ilona spending time with the little ones at one of the baby orphanages that UAC Ukraine serves. 


Victor Sukhenko


I was born in 1987 in Odessa. I lived with my mother until 1993 but I don’t remember that period well. From 1993 to 1994 I lived with my aunt because my mother was in prison. My life was unbearable then. I was 5-6 years of age when she forced me to get up at 4-5 a.m. to sweep streets. She mocked me very often and sorely, but let’s not go into details. May God be the judge for her. From 1994 to 1998 I lived with my mother, who, unfortunately, was dependent on drugs. Life was very hard. I often left home and spent nights outdoors.

In 1995 I went to a regular secondary school. I was one of the weakest pupils. I was often hungry but I never stole food.

In 1998 my mother died from influenza and blood poisoning. She died slowly and in my presence. Most people know how hard it is to lose a loved one, but it is even harder for a ten year old boy who just started to learn about life. Mental trauma remained my whole life. When I was eleven, I lost my two grandmothers and my mother. Now, I have only a grandfather who supports me in all my undertakings.

I will digress a little bit and briefly tell about my father. I didn’t known him during my childhood. I met him when I was twenty. At that moment he was fatally ill. We communicated very seldom. He lived in the street.  I did understand that he was sorry about everything and forgave him. Looking at my eyes, he just sobbed. I helped him as much as possible, but he died because of his way of life-- Drugs, alcohol, prison. My father passed away and Clara Pascal helped me with funeral expenses. I thank her very much for helping me during this difficult time. 

In 1998 I went to Orphanage #4. It was also a very hard time. Moreover, I was with many pupils who were 14-15 years old, and I was only 11. There was a temptation to escape, steal, take drugs and not learn. That was the most difficult age period because I just began to develop into a person. Thanks to God, I got through it. A caretaker can only give a piece of advice or help a little bit, but the child has to make their own decisions. After several years I understood that studying was very important. I began to read a lot and look for different information. At the first opportunity I entered Odessa Juridical Lyceum and studied four years there. I finished it with excellent marks. While studying there, I lived in the orphanage.

In 2006 I entered Odessa National University, Economy and Law Department, Criminal Law and Criminalistics Chair. Now, I’m finishing my fourth year and getting a bachelor’s degree certificate. Next year I am going to get a specialist’s certificate.

In general, I’m pleased with my life because I have a head on my shoulders, two hands and two legs. The rest depends on my desires and aspirations. I think that being a good person is a way of life. One never has to take extreme measures to achieve goals, but always has to stay honorable and decent. My favorite expression is “Treat others as you would want to be treated.” 

I started in the Scholarship Program a bit earlier than other children because I lived in the orphanage while I was a pupil of the Juridical Lyceum. This lasted for two years when I was in high school. Clara really became a very dear person to me.

The UAC Scholarship Program is not only $50 a month; It is much more! We feel that we are not alone and that there are people who are not indifferent to us. This cannot be translated into money! UAC gives us a feeling of care. Clara solves any major problems that the students may have. Take health, for example. All my teeth are healthy now. When the ceiling in my kitchen collapsed, Clara helped with it, too. When I wanted to bury my father, whoever he was, I didn’t have money and Clara helped me. He was buried as an ordinary man and not in a cellophane package with an unknown tombstone. UAC organization helped me very much with legal problems as well. There are people (staff) in the program I can share my emotional experiences with and ask for advice. Who can one speak with if he is alone in the world? It is very important, and I appreciate that the Scholarship Program gives us people who can and want to listen. 

It is my last year in the UAC Scholarship Program. I am very glad that I was a participant and I’m grateful to every person who takes part in developing and supporting the program. Despite the financial crisis in America, we always have help in time. Thank you, sponsors. Thank you, dear Clara. I extremely love you! I like when you come and we can talk.

Thank you for never denying any request. Thank you for your care. Thank you that we have you. Thank you for creating this program!

Victor Sukhenko.


Larissa Batolava

Scholarship student Larissa Batolava is one of many examples of what students can accomplish through UAC's Orphaned Teen Scholarship Program. In 2009, Larissa graduated from the Art Department of Odessa Teaching University, and afterward she received her Certificate of Interior Design.  Larissa is now working as a designer at a private firm.