In the Red Square in Moscow, Russia

Hello everyone! Всем привет! My name is Mary Conway and I’m a third year Eminence Fellow at The Ohio State University from a small town in Ohio called Columbia Station. I graduated from High School in 2015, and then took a gap year in Chisinau, Moldova. I participated in the National Security Language Initiative for Youth through the US Department of State. Now, if you have never heard of Moldova, don’t worry. I knew nothing about it (including its existence), until I learned that I would be living there for nine months. With the help of Google I learned that Moldova is a small  agrarian country located between Romania and Ukraine.

I lived in Chisinau with a host family for nine months. It was a fully immersive environment, meaning, not only did I take Russian lessons every day, but also took piano lessons and Spanish dance lessons in Russian. I got so much from this experience, including a new definition of hospitality, and a new appreciate for the lifestyle and values of people in that part of the world.

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to have another opportunity to live abroad in a post Soviet country for a period of time. I was in Astana, Kazakhstan for four months working for the USA Pavilion partnered with the US Department of State. I worked as a Student Ambassador and translator at the International Exposition on Green Energy and Sustainable Development. I was able to travel extensively during my time off from this job. I spent some time hiking in the mountains in Kyrgyzstan, sleeping in yurts in Northern Kazakhstan near the Russian border, visiting museums in Kiev, and I had an opportunity to visit my host family in Moldova.

It was during this summer that I also finally got to visit Russia! Despite all my time in the region and interests in Russian language, politics, history and culture, I had never been to Russia. My dad and I took a vacation to visit Saint Petersburg, Moscow, and then, randomly, Cairo. This was an amazing trip! I was unfortunately only home for 3 days before I turned around and flew to Kazakhstan for the summer. It was a crazy few months.

Now, back at Ohio State, I ‘m involved in Students Consulting for Nonprofits, the Collegiate Counsel on World Affairs, the Ohio State Chapter of the United Nations Association and Enlighten. I am also a member of the Financial Education team for a local, student-run nonprofit organization, Ascent Microfinance. This organization aims to help people in the lower income areas around Columbus by

At one of the many Columbus cafes with my best friend from college!

providing education and microloans.

This summer, I will be working as a financial analyst at Sycamore Growth Group, a small company in Columbus. This company aims to grow businesses and ultimately increase the number of jobs in the community through Research and Development Tax Credits. I will also spend some time traveling, and exploring the many cafes around Columbus.