Ukrainian immigrant flees war, finds new home at Athabasca University
Programmer joins AU and the Integrated Learning Environment program
Before Russian troops invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, life for Anastasiia Lutchenko was quite settled.
The 26-year-old had a good job as a programmer, a nice apartment in the western Ukraine city of Chernivtsi, a solid network of friends, and a supportive family.
When the war started, Lutchenko was understandably gripped with fear and confusion.
“At first when the war broke out, it was scary,” Lutchenko explains. “So many people were crossing the border, some of them even just by walking. We didn’t know how long the war would last, but we were hoping it would end soon. Every day, we hoped it would just end.”
“So many people were crossing the border, some of them even just by walking. We didn’t know how long the war would last, but we were hoping it would end soon. Every day, we hoped it would just end.”– Anastasiia Lutchenko, AU team member
“My whole life is in Ukraine”
After a month of hostilities and no sign an end was imminent, Lutchenko started to consider fleeing the conflict and Canada was an obvious option.
To that end, Lutchenko’s half-sister, Oksana Delgado, works at Athabasca University (AU) as manager of learning experience productions. Her father, mother, and brother also immigrated to Canada in the last few years. But she was still torn.
“My whole life is in Ukraine,” says Lutchenko, who holds a master’s degree in information technology. “I had plans for my future, I had all my friends, and it was hard to come to the decision to leave.”
Moreover, Lutchenko and Delgado’s brother, Vitalii, volunteered to serve in the Ukrainian armed forces and his well-being has, and continues to be, a daily worry for the family.
Ultimately, she felt the right thing to do was leave and come to Canada.
“With my sister-in-law and her young children, we first went to Romania and moved around a number of times, then via Istanbul we flew to Toronto and then to Edmonton,” Lutchenko explains.
Joining AU’s Integrated Learning Environment program
Not too long after arriving, Lutchenko sent her resume to Anne-Marie Scott, deputy provost and co-lead of AU’s Integrated Learning Environment (ILE) program, and Dawn Litzenberger, ILE senior project manager. The ILE is a unique endeavour that will harmonize all aspects of online learning, teaching, and learner support into a single, unified ecosystem.
Scott and Litzenberger interviewed Lutchenko for a role as a course migration assistant with the ILE program and she was a successful candidate.
She is excelling in the position and is a great contributor.
“I feel very privileged to be able to have her join our team.”– Dawn Litzenberger, ILE senior project manager.
“I feel very privileged to be able to have her join our team,” says Litzenberger. “Anastasiia brings a different view to our work and just to be able to help someone feel more comfortable in a new country makes me feel very proud as a Canadian.”
Lutchenko is grateful for the role, which centres on moving more than 950 courses from AU’s current learning management system (LMS)—Moodle—into the LMS of AU’s future, Brightspace.
“I’m still getting used to all the changes in my life—even just getting used to living in Canada—and it’s good to have a job here [at AU],” she relates. “It makes things so much easier starting off in a new country.”