March 11, 2008
Valeriya Berezhynska does not believe in letting the grass grown beneath her feet.
Not satisfied with the dual challenge of classes and basketball at Rice, she also finds the time to work as a student assistant in the Rice Athletics Ticket Office where she conducts season ticket sales and creates promotional flyers and order forms.
Berezhynska is also a student assistant at Rice's Recreation Center and somehow also finds the time to read to children at Poe Elementary on a weekly basis with her teammates.
"We play spelling games with the kids. It's a really nice break from the usual textbook reading. I like being able to enjoy the simple things that entertain children of that age."
Berezhynska worked as a counselor at the Rice Owls Basketball summer camp, coaching female basketball players ages 6-15. She was responsible for explaining and demonstrating basketball drills to her group of campers and overseeing the practices.
But her most rewarding experience came in coaching four year olds at the Biddie Ball camp.
"It's amazing how much energy children have and they are always excited about doing anything and everything. Seeing them learn and knowing that you were the one who taught them was priceless." said Berezhynska
Berezhynska has also done a number of other community service projects in her time at Rice. She spends time playing with children at the Ronald McDonald House, a charity which provides a home away from home to families of ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.
"At the Ronald McDonald House, the kids are so happy just to have you around. They love to go outside and play basketball. It has really made me take a look at my life from a different angle and made me appreciate what I have. Most of these kids are never going to be able to have all the opportunities we just take for granted." said Berezhynska.
Berezhynska would like to return to Ukraine after she graduates next December to reunite with her family, whom she has not seen in since she left to come to the US to play basketball in 2000.
Basketball brought her to Rice, and she hopes that one part of her time at Rice may be a part of her future in basketball as well.
Berezhynska hopes to play professionally in Europe, and would like to end up on the same team as fellow senior Kadie Riverin.
"That's our plan." she said.
With the dedication she has shown throughout her basketball career, Valeriya Berezhynska truly is one of Tomorrow's Leaders.
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