Before he graduated from the Senior Leader Program in 2013, Ukrainian- born Mykola Lyakhovolsky used to take three buses from his high school in Northeast Philadelphia to get to Starfinder. Mykola, now 19 and a sophomore at Penn State Abington, recently joined the Starfinder staff for a year of service with Coach Across America. We asked him to reflect on his time at Starfinder.
What brought you in to Starfinder?
At first, it was just the chance to play soccer and because my friends were coming here. I realized after a while that Starfinder was a lot more than just soccer and I really liked the atmosphere.
What are you doing now?
I’m a sophomore at Penn State Abington studying criminal justice. At school I’m a member of THON, an organization that raises money for childhood cancer, and Vice President of the Criminal Justice Association. I’m also a Coach Across America coach here at Starfinder. Right now I’m recruiting students to join the Starfinder program. When I go to schools and see kids excited about the program, I get really excited too.
Are you still playing soccer?
I play for Penn State Abington. I like playing center mid because I love dribbling and keeping control of the ball but sometimes they put me at left back.
What are some big things that changed after you graduated high school?
I realized I can’t mess around at college. In high school I treated everything like a joke and would mess around but now I have to take my college courses seriously. I also realized you get a lot more freedom at college, like you can leave in between classes, but you just have to manage time better.
Do you feel like the lessons you learned at Starfinder are helping you now?
My time at Starfinder really helped me to transition to college. I learned to be outgoing to meet new people and build relationships. I’m now Vice President of a club at college because I have the confidence to speak up instead of sit in the shadows.
Do you have any advice for kids currently at Starfinder?
Starfinder is offering more opportunities and you should take advantage of all of them. Some kids don’t take it seriously enough. You never know your limits –be at your full potential whether it’s getting extra tutoring or pushing yourself during soccer drills.