Chemistry Major 2014 Valedictorian

For the third year in a row, York's valedictorian is a Chemistry major and aspiring physician. This year the deserving scholar is Katsiaryna Hud, who attended York as a SEEK student.

"I want to be an ophthalmologist," said Hud, who this summer, plans to take the MCAT's and apply to medical school. She will specialize in either ophthalmology or dermatology unless there is a more pressing need elsewhere as she progresses through school.

Hud's journey to York was somewhat circuitous. She came from her homeland of Belarus via Miami, where she entered the United States as a refugee. The then-21 year-old lived in that city for a short while before finding her way to Rego Park, Queens and came to York with the intention of majoring in Pharmaceutical Science.

Born in the northern part of Arkhangelsk, Russia, before her family moved to Belarus, Hud knew only one person in the United States - a friend in Miami. She had no English language skills and worked odd jobs to survive in that city.

She moved to New York, because she felt there would be better opportunities for her. She wanted a college education and realized that she could get a great one through the City University of New York (CUNY) and chose York for the Pharmaceutical Science program, the only one in the system.

But first she had to learn English so she started in the college's CUNY Language Immersion Program (CLIP) and was later accepted into the SEEK program.
"I was very afraid I wouldn't be able to read the books," said Hud of her venture into college. "But after one semester I knew that I had no time to waste. I heard about the SEEK Program and that I would get tutoring with my English." 

She may not have been as far behind in her English acquisition skills as she may have thought. While still in CLIP Hud took second prize in an essay competition.

"I was surprised," she said. "My grammar wasn’t good." 

Following conversations with Chemistry Professor Ruel Desamero, Hud changed her major to Chemistry affording her more options "in the science field." For the past two years she has been conducting research with Dr. Desamero analyzing, she says, the protein, which causes Type II diabetes.

She has also presented her research at York's Undergraduate Research Day and will be presenting at St. John's University this summer while awaiting response to her application for a research opportunity at the Mayo Clinic. All this, while preparing to take the MCATs and applying to medical schools.

Hud who still worries about her less-than-perfect grammar in English, also speaks fluent Russian, some German and of course, her native Belarusian. She is hoping that her beloved family, which includes an elder sister, will be granted visas to attend her graduation from York on May 30th.

Dr. Desamero is confident in Hud's medical school potential.

"She's a very soft spoken individual who is very capable of excelling in whatever career she chooses to pursue," said Desamero. "She is not only brilliant, but also tenaciously hard working."

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