Meet Alena

Optimized-Alena croppedI came to New York City by myself from Ukraine in 2002.  Everything was so new and different, and I didn’t know anyone. I knew that getting an education would be critical, so my first step was to get an associate’s degree.

During my studies, I knew I wanted to eventually work as a medical physicist: Ensuring safety of those exposed to radiation and designing radiation treatment plans for cancer patients.

Over ten years, my husband and I had two children while I worked full-time as a technician and completed the requirements to start a Master’s degree in Medical Physics.

When I was accepted to Columbia University, I was so excited! For someone who came to this country with very little, it gave me a huge sense of accomplishment to know that I was on my way to getting a specialized degree and having a job I’m passionate about.

However, I needed to pay a large amount for tuition immediately. I researched banks, but I worried that interest and fees would really add up once I graduated. I thought about how this debt would affect not only me, but also my family and children for many years to come.

A friend directed me to HFLS, and I was approved for a $10,000 graduate school loan. This loan allowed me to enroll in my first semester and removed a huge burden from my shoulders.

Now I’m able to focus on school, work, and family without constantly worrying about my loans. I have a sense of financial security I wouldn’t have had otherwise, and soon I’ll also have a career that will provide greater stability for my family.

— Alena, graduate student