Kate's "The Coal That Lit the Wood"
Exchange student from Ukraine selling items for Model UN fundraising

FLEX Student of the Month (April 2022)

PAX is excited to nominate Kateryna, a FLEX exchange student from Ukraine, and Monona, Wisconsin, to be the April FLEX Student of the Month. Kateryna (who goes by Kate), has embraced her exchange year in every way and has been a great ambassador for her country and the FLEX program.

Kate acclimated very well to her host family from the beginning and has great relationships with everyone. She has shared much about her Ukrainian culture with her host family and made several Ukrainian dishes including vareniki and Olivier salad. She is very engaged in her host family life.

Kate decided that since her host family speaks some Spanish, she would teach herself Spanish in her free time. She makes flashcards, uses an online app, and spends time learning pronunciation and grammar rules from the family. Host mom Erica says that she is grateful for Kate’s positive influence on her family, especially on her siblings. She commented, “Our children have had the opportunity to see what it’s like to be so academically driven. Also, Kate is not afraid to tell her host siblings when they are doing something that is negatively impacting the household.”

In school, Kate has been a delightful student. She is a straight-"A" student and is involved in many extracurricular activities such as Model UN, Dungeons & Dragons Club, HOSA Club (future health professionals), and Key Club. Kate has participated at some level in every activity—from going to conferences, helping to create a campaign for the D&D club, and participating in a contest for HOSA. 

Kate’s participation in Model UN has earned her several awards: Best Delegate Model UN Conference, SIMUN Outstanding Delegate (2nd place), and MADMUN Outstanding Delegate (2nd place).

Kate’s teachers all speak highly of her. They can always count on Kate to keep the conversation moving in the classroom or to answer questions. At mid-year, Kate didn’t feel challenged enough by her schoolwork, so she made several changes to her schedule to include higher-level courses. Currently, she is enrolled in French 4, Organic Chemistry, Medical Terminology, Anatomy & Physiology 2, English 10, and U.S. History.

Kate has also given back to her community by volunteering. She helped with a vaccine drive at the local elementary school, served meals to people who are homeless, volunteered for her teachers at school, and participated in various volunteer activities with HOSA.

After the start of the war in Ukraine, Kate took it upon herself to raise funds and become more aware of what was happening globally.  She brainstormed many ideas. In the end, she decided to begin with a school rally and fundraiser. She purchased supplies to make posters and spent the weekend researching a quality charity for the fundraiser. 

Because of her efforts, students at her school and teachers worked together to make Ukrainian flag pins, bracelets, and posters. They shared a link for people in the community to donate directly to the organization Care Ukraine Crisis Fund in exchange for the items.

Despite the difficult situation in her home country, Kate remains positive and hopeful. When asked about her hard work and determination this year, Kate said, “I’m more of a coal that lit the wood, rather than wood itself, which is more like other fantastic people I had the luck to meet. I’m not necessarily doing all the work. I’m an inspiration for others.”

Kate’s many qualities and contributions, as well as the inspiration she has provided during a challenging time, make it an honor to nominate her for the April FLEX Student of the Month.

—The PAX Sponsored Team