English not a barrier for her

For Floriya Borzenkova coming to America from Russia was a challenge for her as she had to learn how to speak English while going to school and being a single mother.

Borzenkova, was born and raised in the Ukraine. After getting married she moved to Moscow, Russia and lived there for 15 years.

While in Russia, Borzenkova got her degree in Computer Programing for Business but when she decided to come to America she lost all her educational papers.

It was hard at first for Borzenkova being a single mother with no money when she came to the United States in 1999 with her son.

“It was difficult for me because i had to take care of my son who was a teenager and also find time to go to school,” Borzenkova said.

Losing her educational papers was a bump in the road for her, as she had to start all over here in America. She came to this country not knowing any English which made it difficult for her to get her Bachelors degree.

“Not being able to speak English made it more of a challenge because I had to learn everything from school while at the same time I was learning how to speak the English,” Borzenkova said.

Borzenkova started at Pierce College as a student worker, and it was not easy for her because her English was not that well.

“When I was told that I had to answer the phones, I would run to the bathroom every time the phone rang,” Borzenkova said. “I had to adjust to the language and get used to speaking English over the phone.”

Little by little she started to pick up the English language and things became a bit easier for her. Borzenkova went on to get her Masters degree in Public Administration at Cal. State Northridge.

Kathy Zanghi, account manager for the Foundation, and Doreen Clay, public relations manager at Pierce, have known Borzenkova since 2002. In those 12 years they have seen her grow to where she is now.

“She didn’t speak much English when I first met her,” Zanghi said. “She would not like to answer the phone, but she learned fast and accepted more responsibilities.”

Zanghi and Clay have been friends with her since she started as a student worker at Pierce and remain friends to this day.

“I have seen her become more Americanized since I first met her,” Clay said. “She has evolved quite a bit and continues to do so.”

As the Senior Program Director of the Foundation for Pierce College, Borzenkova does a bit of everything for the foundation.

“I do everything that needs to be done. I work as an accountant, designer, director and even as an office assistant because I have to make copies,” Borzenkova said. “I also work with the foundation board.”

Borzenkova can work somewhere else, but she chooses to work with the foundation because she likes working for a non-profit organization.

“I can work for a different place but when you work for non-profit organizations you get attached to it because it is very rewarding knowing that you can give something to people,” Borzenkova said. “I would encourage people to do something like this, it is good for your soul.”

Coming to America as a single mother and not knowing any English were hard obstacles to overcome, but Borzenkova did not let that stop her from reaching her goal.

“Some people make excuses when there should not be excuses to get where you want to be, if there is a way to do it then you do it,” Borzenkova said.