Ukrainian Couple finds personal and professional fulfillment at MIU and beyond
Meet happily married ComPro graduates Julia (MS’17) and Eugene Rohozhnikov (MS’17) from Ukraine: an inspiring, dynamic, energetic duo dedicated to lifelong learning, friendships, adventure, and joy in living.
We spoke with them recently to find out how they came to study at MIU, to take a look back at their time as students in the ComPro program, and to see what they’ve been up to lately.
Here’s a summary of our conversation:
ComPro News: How did you first hear about the ComPro program, and what motivated you to apply?
Julia: My cousin Kate joined ComPro when I was about to graduate from high school in Lviv, Ukraine. Kate’s stories of MIU inspired me to pursue a bachelor’s in Software Engineering. I applied to MIU right after graduating. A very pleasant interview with ComPro’s Craig Shaw during my application process made me realize I truly belonged at MIU and that it was a great place to pursue my Master’s Degree in Computer Science.
Eugene: I met Julia at college a year before she was admitted to MIU. She struck me as a highly goal-driven and ambitious person. While she was studying in the U.S. she told me all about the MIU atmosphere, quality of education, environment, and diversity. This motivated me to work towards getting into MIU myself.
ComPro News: What did you like most about being a student at MIU?
Julia: ComPro is a life changer! The courses are tightly related to real-world professional work requirements, and the professors are very knowledgeable and helpful. Also, the Career Strategies workshop at the end of the on-campus courses is amazing. The Computer Science Career Center professionals taught us to prepare the best resume, to effectively define and communicate our skills and experience, and to excel at interviews by repeatedly practicing the interview process.
Eugene: I enjoyed being a part of the diversity and inclusion at MIU. We had the pleasure of studying with people from all around the world—all colors, all races, and all ages. If not for MIU, we might never have had the opportunity to truly be a part of the “melting pot” of cultures and traditions!
Our everyday life was very fulfilling. Classes were challenging, with interesting exercises and research. We often worked in teams, sharing creative thought processes and getting great results.
ComPro News: As you know, Transcendental Meditation (TM) is an important part of the curriculum at MIU. What effect did TM practice have on your education and daily life?
Julia: As students, TM helped us get the most out of our education and maintain a stable study-life balance. We did TM twice a day. This helped us recharge after hours of continuous studying while reducing stress and anxiety levels.
Eugene: We’re grateful to our TM teachers, both in the U.S. and Ukraine, for giving us this valuable tool that helps us keep a healthy state of body and mind in our daily lives.
ComPro News: What are some fond memories you have of your time on campus?
Julia: MIU feels like family. We have such warm and pleasant memories of thinking back about our MIU life. From my first day on campus, I felt like I belonged. Upon arrival in Iowa I was picked up by MIU staff from the bus station, then brought to campus, and welcomed by ComPro staff. They all smiled and hugged, shared stories, checked on me, and my trip. This was one of the most memorable days of my life in the United States!
Eugene: Coming back for graduation with Julia and my mom was a very special experience. We were so warmly welcomed, and my mother felt right at home even without understanding a single word of English. We had a delightful time celebrating, playing games during the ComPro graduation picnic, and driving around the dear, charming city of Fairfield.
ComPro News: Do you stay in contact with any of the friends you made at MIU?
Julia: MIU is a place where the “best friend” word combination gets its true meaning. For instance, my classmate Sa’ed Al Qannas and his family are currently our neighbors across the street. We’ve been through many things together: weddings, the birth of their children, many birthday parties, and numerous life events. We’re friends for life!
Eugene: The MIU network is very strong and we keep our bond all across the world. Whenever we travel, we visit dear MIU friends. They open their house, prepare delicious traditional meals, and we spend hours chatting about life, and reminiscing. One of my classmates, Boldkhuu Dandarvanchig. from Mongolia, is officially part of our family now. He was the best man at our wedding and his signature is on our marriage certificate.
ComPro News: What have you been doing at work?
Julia: For the last seven years my professional experience has involved managing people, working closely with customers, and getting to know the best talents from all around the world as a Lead Quality Assurance Engineer and Product Owner. I’m also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), and Professional Scrum Master (PSM1).
Eugene: I’m working as a Senior Software Engineer. I started working as a Junior Developer and climbed up the ladder to be a go-to person on one of the crucial modules in our system. Seeing that thousands of people are using the product I’m helping to build motivates me to improve myself.
ComPro News: What inspires you about the work you’re doing?
Eugene: From early childhood, I’ve loved to learn new things, and Information Technology is constantly evolving. Adding to my professional toolkit and researching new trends in technology not only makes me a better professional but brings me joy. As Confucius said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.
Julia: I love working on improving my skills and knowledge as well as helping my team advance in their career and professional growth. I’m a people person — I love working with clients on understanding their needs, getting my team on the same page, and delivering the best solutions possible.
ComPro News: Julia, congratulations on getting your PMP certification! Tell us how Eugene supported you during that time.
Julia: I’m blessed to have had a lot of academic experience in my life, and as a result, I’ve taken all kinds of exams. Preparing for certification exams is much more intensive than preparing for academic exams! No wonder professional certifications are recognized as a substantial achievement all over the world.
Apart from the educational prep, the PMP was a family project. I isolated myself from anything other than necessities: food, working out, working, and studying. Even though Eugene and I work remotely and spend an entire day in the same place, we barely saw each other. No movie nights, no board games, or meeting friends. I’m beyond grateful for Eugene’s support. We did it together, and are stronger than ever!
ComPro News: We know that you love to travel. What’s the next big adventure you’re planning?
Julia: We’re planning to visit our dear family in Ukraine. It’s been eight years since I’ve seen my family in person. We’re waiting for everyone, especially my sweet 92-year-old grandmother, to be vaccinated, and we can’t wait to finally be able to hug!
ComPro News: We are looking forward to seeing Julia and Eugene when they return to MIU in September for our Grand Golden Jubilee. We’ll be celebrating MIU’s 50th anniversary and the ComPro program’s 25th anniversary.