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UBC Reports | Vol. 51 | No. 5 | May 5, 2005

Nursing Degree Caps Family’s Long Journey

By Hilary Thomson

Sergey Volchkov’s nursing degree marks a major milestone in an academic journey that has spanned continents, cultures and careers.

Originally from Latvia, Volchkov earned a degree in mechanical engineering and worked as an engineer until 1999. Then he decided to change his life.

In what he calls “our best decision,” he, his wife, then five-year-old son Pavel and one-year-old daughter Sasha, immigrated to Canada to escape Latvia’s political uncertainty following the breakup of the Soviet Union. At the same time, he realized that he was “more interested in people than mechanical units” and set out to establish a new career.

Just three months after his arrival, he became a distress line volunteer at the Vancouver Crisis Centre, where he gained a passion for communication and a keen interest in mental health.

“I was amazed at how much I could help, even with my limited skills,” says the 34-year-old. “I saw how powerful communication can be and what might be possible if I were more qualified.”

His search for a health-care career that would also allow a balanced life led him to nursing. After a year at Douglas College, he enrolled at a third-year level in the School of Nursing, one of six men in his class.

In addition to his studies and family activities, he also had a part-time job as a community support worker at a group home, taking the graveyard shift while his wife, Natasha, worked full-time as a chemist.

“It’s been tough and I’m proud I got through,” he says. “I’ve had so much support -- this is really a family accomplishment.” He is also grateful for the encouragement shown by his classmates and School of Nursing faculty.

Volchkov is receiving a special graduation present -- he and his brother recently sponsored their parents to immigrate to Canada. The couple arrives the week before Congregation and will be part of the family cheering section at the ceremonies.

After graduation, he hopes to work at a hospital mental health emergency service department, or with a community mental health team.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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