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
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
“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
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