Fellow Stories: Kim Demjanenko

Family dinners are my favorite part of the day! This is a time when we have a chance to unwind and discuss some moments from the week.” -Kim Demjanenko

Kim Demjanenko grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania and attended Gannon University where she earned a degree in Business Administration. At Gannon, she devoted much of her time to Students Against Violence Everywhere, where she was secretary. She served as teacher at the St. Jude’s School and Villa Maria Elementary.  Additionally, Kim was a Para Educator at the Barber National Institute, where she aided children with disabilities and was an intern at the Erie County Courthouse. Kim was also a Change Fellowship Student Leader at the Martin Luther King Center, a student leader of Community Corps, and a member of Gannon’s cross country team.  In her free time, Kim enjoys running, yoga, reading, and spending time with friends and family.  She is a part of the East End cohort, and is serving at Jeremiah’s Place.

Molly Campbell: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Kim Demjanenko: I enjoy gaining experience serving with a nonprofit while also living with other fellows.  It has been a great learning more about the nonprofit world, while also living in a community and serving with others who are going through a similar experience as I am.

Molly: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Kim: Living and learning with people from different backgrounds has broadened my horizon.

Molly: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Kim: I am definitely learning more about my strengths and weaknesses while working in a nonprofit.  PULSE is a great way to get a foot in the door and gain experience while also learning more about my own interests.   

Molly: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Kim: I really enjoy the variety of work I do.  My main focus is on communication, outreach, and development while also working hands-on with the children at Jeremiah’s place.  It is very impactful working with children and families in need!

Molly: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Kim:  Family dinners are my favorite part of the day! This is a time when we have a chance to unwind and discuss some moments from the week.

Molly: Describe a typical day at your nonprofit partnership.

Kim: Every day is different- some days I have a chance to work with the kids, and other days I work on social media and community outreach for children and families or just do daily administrative tasks.

Molly: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Kim: Light up the night was great! We went downtown to celebrate Christmas and everything was decorated!

Molly: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Kim: The best part of my PULSE experience is serving with a nonprofit while also living with others going through a similar experience.  It is nice PULSE supporting us along the way.

 

Story by PULSE Fellow Molly Campbell.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Fellow Story: Anya Fredrickson

“With the professional development tools I’ve been given through PULSE and at my nonprofit partnership, my internal strengths and skills have been amplified…” Anya Fredrickson

Anya Fredrickson, a native of Washington, D.C., completed her undergraduate degree at Earlham College with a major in Sociology and Anthropology and minors in Museum Studies and Art History. During her time in school, she was involved with Dance Alloy, where she organizing a full dance performance every semester. She was also President of the Student Activities Board and was a Lead Counselor for Little Friends for Peace, where she educated 4-6 year old campers on skills for peace and nonviolence. Anya also served as as a host at the Joseph Moore Museum. She interned with DC Councilmember David Grosso as an educational intern and with Smithsonian’s Freer/Sackler Galleries as an educational department intern. In her free time, Anya enjoys dancing, visiting museums, ceramics, and photography.  She is a part of the South Hilltop cohort, and is serving at the PEAL Center.

Chelsea Contino: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Anya Fredrickson: The people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve had. I’ve been able to attend conferences, non-profit meetings, special events, and community events. These opportunities have allowed me to get to know Pittsburgh and its people better while helping me grow personally and professionally.

Chelsea: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Anya: It has taught me to have an open mind when considering house and community norms.

Chelsea: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Anya: I am learning that I have more professional skills than I originally thought. With the professional development tools I’ve been given through PULSE and at my nonprofit partnership, my internal strengths and skills have been amplified, allowing me to identify and more clearly express the things I’m good at to others.

Chelsea: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Anya: I really enjoy the diversity of work that my partner does. They are invested in both health and education. This has allowed me to delve deeper into topics of which I only had a surface level understanding.

Chelsea: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Anya: I like living in a neighborhood where I can see the community being built and maintained. It’s given me a greater sense of home and belonging.

Chelsea: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Anya: Just how pretty it is. I didn’t realize how many parks and other outdoor spaces, trees, and beautiful views there were in the city. I really appreciate it.

Chelsea: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Anya: As part of RAD Days in Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Museums’ Third Thursdays Initiative, I was able to go to 4 museums for free within a 3-day span. I love museums, so being able to explore those spaces without needing to spend money was definitely a highlight.

Chelsea: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Anya: Definitely lasagna or roasted brussel sprouts with sweet potatoes. We have these at least once every two weeks, and it’s a meal that everyone enjoys and comes together for.

 

Story by PULSE Fellow Chelsea Contino.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Fellow Story: Alex Bice

“I knew that I really wanted something more than just traditional post-college work experience…[PULSE] has given me a lot more access to people who have similar life experiences and priorities…” -Alex Bice

Alex Bice comes to Pittsburgh by way of Northfield, Minnesota. Alex received his degree in History from Carleton College. Prior to joining PULSE, he interned at SCOPE, where he created a local history booklet and planned oral presentations. He also interned at the National Atomic Testing Museum and in Congressman Joe Heck’s District Office.  Additionally, while at Carleton, Alex was the program director of Green Thumbs and a member of College Buddies, and New Student Week staff. In his free time, Alex enjoys reading, running, cooking, and learning how to play guitar.  He is a part of the Northside cohort, and is serving at Partner4Work alongside Julia Gagosian.

Grace Wong: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Alex Bice: Being around other people my age who share a similar background and values in terms of serving others. I especially enjoy being able to hang out and watch television with my housemates a couple times a month. It’s a small thing but it really helps me feel more at home while doing this service year.

Grace: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Alex: I like the people I work alongside, and that there is another PULSE fellow serving at my organization. I enjoy coming to my nonprofit every morning.

Grace: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Alex: Having people with whom I live, spend time, and enjoy one another’s company.

Grace: Describe a typical day at your nonprofit partnership.

Alex: I get in around 8:15, I do work for about 4 hours, mostly research, social media, and event planning. Then I have lunch with the people on my floor and then do more work until about 4:30.

Grace: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Alex: As someone who is new to Pittsburgh entirely, I didn’t know really what to expect about the city. Now I really enjoy it! I was surprised by just how hilly everything is though. Everywhere you go most of the time feels like it is either aggressively uphill or aggressively downhill. I knew to expect the bridges, but it was the hills that I wasn’t expecting.

Grace: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Alex: I went to the 21+ Carnegie science center and it was cool to see what PGH offers to residents. It was a really enjoyable experience because it was something I never really had access to before! All of the museums in Pittsburgh are really interesting, and it was just a great opportunity to have a fun experience while also being able to walk around and see all the wonderful exhibits at the Science Center.

Grace: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Alex: Mac & Cheese!! We eat it all the time.

Grace: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Alex: As I was beginning to think about what I would be doing with my first year after college, I knew that I really wanted something more than just traditional post-college work experience. The community-centered aspects are what really attracted me to PULSE from the beginning, and I’ve been very happy with my decision! It has given me a lot more access to people who have similar life experiences and priorities, and I don’t know if I would have been able to find the same thing on my own after college.

 

Story by PULSE Fellow Grace Wong.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Fellow Story: Tess De Jong

One of my favorite parts has been networking with people I probably wouldn’t have met on my own. I’ve been handed networking opportunities and met some really cool people.” -Tess De Jong

Tess De Jong comes to Pittsburgh by way of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Tess received her degree in Geography with a minor in Economics from Calvin College. Prior to joining PULSE, she interned with Calvin College’s Service-Learning Center, *Culture is Not Optional as a Business Support Intern, and the Gilchrist Retreat Center. Additionally, Tess was a part of Ready for Life Horizons, an organization that builds relationships with people who have physical and developmental disabilities. In her free time, Tess enjoys cooking, playing sports, and completing do-it-yourself projects.  She is a part of the South Hilltop cohort, and is serving at Focus on Renewal.

Jack Hurley: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Tess De Jong: The most valuable part of the PULSE experience is having a supervisor at my placement who is invested in me and my experience. She has invited me to events outside of work, expanded my network, given me space to learn new skills and take on leadership opportunities that will benefit me in the future.

Jack: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Tess: I’m learning more about my own personality in contrast and comparison with my own housemates. I’m learning about unique experiences and strengths that I have.

Jack: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Tess: I try to spend quality time with people every single day. I got coffee with a friend last weekend, went to light-up night, and had Friendsgiving with the South Side and Jack Hurley which of course involved some intense party games.

Jack: Describe a typical day at your nonprofit partnership.

Tess: My day changes every day! For the most part, I go into work, take a while to get to my desk after stopping to chat with so many friendly faces, and check emails (I’m a food programs and outreach coordinator). Also, as a part of my position, I work at the food pantry and we serve roughly 100 families per month. A big part of my last month has been organizing a cooking class for teens called “Steel Chef.”

Jack: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Tess: I’m from Michigan and orientation in July was my first time in Pittsburgh… not only did the local Pittsburgh pride surprise me, but the hyper local neighborhood pride and identification surprised me, too. A lot of times, you can’t talk about Pittsburgh without specifying the neighborhood in Pittsburgh because there are many distinctions among the 90 neighborhoods.

Jack: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Tess: On the first crisp day of fall about a month into the program, I decided to take a walk and explore the city while wearing my fall vest for the first time of the season. I live in South Side and I spent all morning walking through Downtown and crossed the bridges into the North Side. I ended at the Andy Warhol Museum because it was free that day. It was nice to see angles from on foot that I’d never seen before, and it felt like I was just a fellow Pittsburgher.

Jack: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Tess: This isn’t necessarily a family recipe, but our house eats broccoli like nobody’s business. We’ve definitely cooled down a bit but we used to buy 6-10 heads of broccoli a week. Definitely a Kingsboro staple.

Jack: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Tess: One of my favorite parts has been networking with people I probably wouldn’t have met on my own. I’ve been handed networking opportunities and met some really cool people. I’ve never networked before really, and now I’ve been doing a bit of it. I realize it doesn’t have to be this intense thing – a small conversation can go a long way.

I also love the people and being able to share the highs and lows of this experience with other people.

 

Story by PULSE Fellow Jack Hurley.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

Fellow Story: Sirah Javier

PULSE has  inspired me to live with a greater purpose and understand the effects of our environment on the community.” -Sirah Javier

Sirah Javier, a native of Chester, New York completed her undergraduate degree at Juniata College with a major in Wildlife Conservation. During her time in school, she was involved with Wildlife Society, Pre-Veterinary Medicine, and Animal Science Club. She was also President of the Rugby Club and a Projects Committee member for Juniata College Senate. Additionally, Sirah was a Web Content Manager for Juniata College Pennington House, and interned with a variety of veterinary hospitals and clinics. She was also an intern at the Africa BioZoo in Cordoba, Mexico. In her free time, Sirah enjoys electrofishing, herpetology, and rugby.  She is a part of the South Hilltop cohort, and is serving at Green Building Alliance.

Kimberly Hunter: What has been the most valuable part of the PULSE experience so far?

Sirah Javier: I’ve learned what it really means to be a community member! It’s more than just living in a place; it includes volunteering, going to community meetings, etc., which is valuable no matter where you go. I’ve learned that immersing myself in a community takes time and living in a space wouldn’t be as fun without neighbors.

Kim: How has PULSE inspired you to live/think/act differently?

Sirah: PULSE has inspired me to live with a greater purpose and understand the effects of our environment on the community. There is a clear possibility for change and getting involved is the best way to get the ball rolling.

Kim: Tell me something you are learning about yourself through PULSE.

Sirah: One of the most important things I’ve learned about myself is that I’m task oriented, I like fast-paced environments, and love being in a place where individuals are passionate about what they do.

Kim: What do you enjoy most about your nonprofit partnership?

Sirah: I like that we create an environment where it is okay to make mistakes, thereby creating a positive space. Moreover, I really enjoy that the individuals in my office show genuine care for one another.  

Kim: What have you enjoyed most about living in community?

Sirah: Making friends! You know someone is always there for you when something goes wrong and the best thing you can have is company.

Kim: Describe a typical day at your nonprofit partnership.

Sirah: The first thing I typically do is say hi to everyone I see. I then go about checking my email, and I do all the tasks listed in my email. Normally, I create name tags, host education events, sit in partner meetings, attend some of our many events and go to building tours that are leaders in sustainability focus. Overall it’s really fun, and I get to learn about how individuals in society are working towards a greener future.

Kim: What surprised you most about Pittsburgh?

Sirah: How strong this city’s efforts are toward being sustainable. It’s pretty impressive. We have political figures, builders, architects, engineers, and community members devoted to growing a  sustainable environment.

Kim: What is the most interesting/fun adventure you’ve had in Pittsburgh so far?

Sirah: Chelsea and I went to an exotic pet shop tailored to aquariums.  They had a variety of coral farm, anemones, and fish that were really fascinating.

Kim: What’s your favorite “family meal” recipe for the house?

Sirah: Chelsea makes an amazing vegetarian chili!

Kim: What is the best part of the PULSE experience?

Sirah: I’m not sure how to answer that question because I haven’t finished my PULSE year yet. So, to be continued.

 

Story by PULSE Fellow Kimberly Hunter.

Read more Fellow Stories about their experience in PULSE. If you would like to learn more about the PULSE program, please visit our Serve with Us page.

Also, check out other Stories of Transformation:

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