Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Spotlight on.. Oksana Zbyranyk!

One of the newest members to the Ukrainian Credit Union Limited family, Oksana Zbyranyk will be celebrating her one-year anniversary as the Financial Services Representative of the Ottawa Branch on August 8th, 2014, and has she got a cool story!

Oksana's lived in many fascinating places in her life, but is currently really enjoying her latest stop, our nation's capital! If you're ever visiting Ottawa, you might run into her skating the Rideau Canal, running along the Ottawa River, or hiking in the forests of Gatineau Park (of course you can also see her at the UCU Ottawa branch!). Oksana is a big outdoors fan and loves spending time being active and getting a bit of fresh air any way she can. She is very passionate about sustainability in business, particularly how it pertains to the social and economic factors in the communities which they are being implemented.

She is SO interested in this in fact, that in the fall of 2012 she defended her Master's Thesis on Environmental Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
There, she spent time researching and understanding how to achieve effective collaboration between environmental researchers and the practitioners of environmental practices at a UNESCO Environmental (Biosphere) Reserve. To put it simply: she was researching opportunities and challenges faced by the environmental researchers and practitioners in their collaborative work and looking into ways they could improve the efficiency of their work to achieve the objectives of the Biosphere Reserve, so researchers could come up with better ideas on how to manage the beautiful world in which we live in.
Oksana in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan was a great place for Oksana. In addition to loving the flat roads (for cycling) and the organic farm-to-table food culture in the prairies, one of the most surprising things Oksana mentioned about her time out West was how much she loved the winter weather! I was a little bit taken aback, but it all made sense when she revealed to me that she was born in, and spent the first 5 years of her life playing in the snow in Siberia! Her father and mother, both native Ukrainians, were posted to the same base as a pilot and meteorologist, respectively. After the fall of the Soviet Union, they moved their family back to their native Ukraine and settled in Poltava where Oksana grew up.

When it came time to pursue higher education (and other extreme weather conditions), Oksana was again up for adventure and ventured toward the Mediterranean and completed her Bachelor of Commerce at the American University of Cyprus! There, she picked up a bit of conversational Turkish and met her future husband, who has since inspired her to learn some Persian too. Oksana has continued her quest into learning languages and has completed her Level 1 in French!

Kyrenia Harbour, one of Oksana's favourite hangout spots in Cyprus
Oksana of course, having grown up in Siberia and Ukraine, speaks Russian as well, and looks upon her time there very fondly. When I asked her about her thoughts on what's going on in the East, the word "heartbroken" came up more than any other - in today's day and age, it is very difficult to see needless blood being spilled and young people losing their lives.

Oksana, like all of us, hope for a quick and peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Fast Facts:
- volunteers for the Blood Cancer Foundation
- member of UNF and UCPBA Ottawa branches
- loves pottery and drawing and wishes she had more time
- is a fan of Okean Elzy
- is aiming to run her first marathon!
- wishes she could have more borstch in her life

Next time you're in Ottawa drop by the branch and say hi! (Address is 271 Bank St. just down the road from the Parliament Buildings in downtown Ottawa)

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