Paying off across generations

Pollianna Moshenskiy (center) celebrates with her parents, Irina and Sergei, after commencement at Cleveland State Community College in May. (Photo: Cleveland State)

Pollianna Moshenskiy is not an ordinary teenager. At 18, she recently earned an associate degree from Tennessee’s Cleveland State Community College a week before graduating from Cleveland High School (CHS). She will transfer to the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, this fall as a biochemistry major with a goal of earning a medical degree. Moshenskiy plans to minor in Spanish, which will give her proficiency in four languages — English, Russian, Ukrainian and Spanish.  

Moshenskiy was a student in the Tennessee Valley Early College (TVEC) at Cleveland State. TVEC is a partnership between Cleveland State and local school systems designed to allow students to pursue college credit at the same time they are earning a high school diploma. Students take a rigorous high school curriculum during their freshman and sophomore years and traditional college courses on Cleveland State’s campus during their junior and senior years.

“I chose the TVEC program because I wanted to get a head start,” Moshenskiy said. “It has always been a goal of mine to go to medical school. Since my parents went here, I knew it was a good school. I liked the professors; you could tell that they cared and really enjoyed teaching.”

Irina and Sergei Moshenskiy at their graduation from Cleveland State in 2002.

Moshenskiy’s parents, Sergei and Irina, are also Cleveland State alumni. Sergei is an operating room (OR) travel nurse, and Irina is a gastroenterology nurse. Originally from Ukraine, the couple moved to Cleveland in December 1997. After a year of learning English, they started nursing school at Cleveland State. Along with their daughter Pollianna, Sergei and Irina have two older sons who are also working on advanced degrees.

“Cleveland State changed our lives because it gave us stability, job opportunities, careers,” said Irina. “We lived in a little bitty apartment for people with the lowest income; now, 26 years later we own a house and have cars. We came to America with two bags, a couple of thousand dollars to buy a car and that’s it. No language. It was hard work. When you come to this country and see your hard work pay off, you want to do more.”

About the Author

Andrea Byerly
Andrea Byerly is the public and media relations manager at Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland, Tennessee.
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