Posted on May 31, 2011 by Tia Lalani

On June 5, Odessa Sherbaniuk received her B.A degree in global and development studies – and the Augustana Medal for the highest academic standing.

by Christopher Thrall

Odessa Sherbaniuk has been committed to saving the world – and travelling it – since she was five years old. On June 5, 2011, Odessa will receive her Bachelor of Arts degree in global and development studies – and the Augustana Medal for the highest academic standing.

“When I started at Augustana, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” says the Round Hill, Alberta, native and graduate of Bawlf School. What classes do you take to learn to save the world? “I found out after four years that you can’t – or maybe that the world doesn’t need saving.”

Odessa’s ideas of travelling to a developing country to fix things evolved as she learned to appreciate local knowledge. “People are quite capable of looking after themselves,” she says seriously, “and an issue affecting a community can be best solved with the first-hand knowledge and expertise of the people in the community.” Furthermore, development doesn’t simply cover actions around the world – lots of work can be done in Canada, and
in Camrose.

While maintaining her position on the Dean’s List for her grades, Odessa completed a community service-learning (CSL) certificate involving a minimum of 110 hours of volunteer activity and a course dedicated to CSL theory, as well as an international exchange with a Mexican community and a three-week trip to study economics and religion in India.

Odessa bases her success on getting invested in the experience at Augustana, where her father is also an alumnus. “It’s not just completing assignments,” she says, “but actually applying the learning in your life. What you put into it is directly related to what you get out of it. It requires time and effort to get a positive learning experience.”

Odessa expects to feel a sense of pride, accomplishment and relief when she stands on stage this Sunday. For the rest of the summer, she will complete a Rural Capacity Internship Program with Augustana’s Learning and Beyond office and the Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities, then consider another internship in Guatemala for four to six months with Sahakarini, a local development agency.

Odessa laughs, “After that – who knows? I can actually think about what I’m going to do next – the possibilities seem endless!”

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