Superintendent’s Spotlight: Anastasiya Kuchynska


Superintendent’s Spotlight: Anastasiya Kuchynska

April 11, 2024

Warwick Valley senior Anastasiya Kuchynska is one of just the first two district students to earn the New York State Seal of Biliteracy in multiple languages. She earned the seal for Spanish proficiency during her junior year and her second seal, for proficiency in Ukrainian, this year. Interestingly, Anastasiya began studying Spanish in seventh grade, but she has been speaking Ukrainian for much longer.

“I was born in Ukraine and immigrated to America in 2010 when I was four years old,” explained Anastasiya, adding that her family still speaks Ukrainian almost exclusively at home. “I’m so proud of my culture and my language, and I just really enjoy sharing it with people.”

With the exception of her mom and dad, her younger brother (who was born in America) and herself, the rest of Anastasiya’s extended family lives in Ukraine. She said she still has many friends there with whom she is in regular contact, and that her family goes back for visits as often as they can. Anastasiya’s mom taught English to second grade students in Ukraine, which stoked Anastasiya’s love of language at an early age. Since, her explorations and accomplishments in that area have earned her a well-known reputation among teachers and friends – both here and abroad – as a lover of linguistics.

When she started studying Spanish, Anastasiya found it endlessly interesting and fun to pick out the similarities between certain words and phrases between different languages, which piqued her curiosity and drove her learning even more. Today, Anastasiya is fluent in English, Ukrainian, Spanish and Russian, and plans on adding at least one more.

“I plan on studying Portuguese in college, because I just really love that language,” she said.

To earn the NYS Seal of Biliteracy, students must demonstrate proficiency in English and another world language. First, they choose a topic for their research, and then must successfully complete an interview with a native speaker, a detailed essay on their topic, and then present a Culminating Project that demonstrates, both verbally and visually, the required level of proficiency across three key modes of communication: interpretive, interpersonal and presentational.

Anastasiya chose to highlight Ukrainian cuisine. She researched how the staple crops of two different regions – the country’s mountains and its plains – inform local dishes.  

“I interviewed my mom, and then my essay basically included everything that I learned about Ukrainian cuisine,” said Anastasiya. “Then, during the presentation, the committee also asked me questions to see how conversant I was.”

Anastasiya attended both the HOBY New York East leadership seminar and the HOBY World Leadership Congress (WLC) in 2023. The WLC welcomes student ambassadors from all 50 states and 15-plus countries, empowering them to become more confident, caring leaders, and active global citizens. The program challenges students to broaden their perspectives, think critically, communicate effectively, and act with integrity. Moreover, it encourages them to see themselves as part of a larger global community, and leaves them with a robust global network and the tools to change the world around them.

“I met people my age from all over; Africa, Asia, China, Thailand, Korea,” said Anastasiya. “I was actually asked to represent Ukraine, and gave a 10-minute presentation on Ukraine in front of 500 people. It was very frightening then, but I’ll never really be afraid to present in class again after that!”

Anastasiya is committed to CUNY Hunter for the fall, which she chose for two main reasons: its location in one of the world’s most international cities and its pre-med program.

“All my family in Ukraine, they’re all doctors and nurses. I want to bring that legacy to America,” said Anastasiya. “I’m accepted into the pre-med program already, so I’ll be studying human biology there and then going on to medical school.”

Anastasiya is already eyeing medical school opportunities in Europe, and shared that her biggest aspiration would be to work for the World Health Organization, or another international entity, where she would be able to put all of her language skills into practice helping people around the globe.”

“The world is becoming much more [interconnected]. Especially with the way technology is rising, you may find yourself be working alongside people from anywhere,” Anastasiya said. “By getting the Seal of Biliteracy, you’re showing that you are literate in the language, which means you can communicate, which is a great step up when it comes to finding jobs and just connecting with people.”

Anastasiya is also quick to point out, however, that not all the hard work she’s put in necessarily means that it’s all hard work ahead.

“Studying languages is also a great excuse to travel the world. Like I told my mom, ‘I can speak Spanish; I should probably go to Spain,’” she added with a smile.


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