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Photo Courtesy of Union College Athletics

Ilyena Kozain '10

Press Release Courtesey of Union College Athletics:

 -- As her four-year career on the crew team winds down this week, senior Ilyena Kozain '14 can take comfort that she has crammed a lot of worldly experience into a short time period at Union College.

It probably doesn't seem that long ago, when after having made the decision to attend Union, she received a post card in the mail promoting the crew program.  An avid skier in high school, Ilyena followed the suggestion of her mother and decided to give this new sport a try.

"I thought it would be a great way to meet people, be active and doing something new," Ilyena said recently.  " I love crew in that you can start participating at such a high level, having never done it before, which is pretty amazing.  Taking part in crew is one of the best decisions I've ever made."

That's saying something considering the experiential path Kozain has chosen for herself at the "U".  Travel has played a big part in her education, and provided inspiration for a career in health care.

That decision came about her sophomore year, when she volunteered at a Schenectady hospice - the Joan Nicole Prince Home - which she describes as "a wonderful and humbling experience."  Based on that experience, Ilyena decided to pursue a nursing assistant license and to apply for medical schools after graduation. 

Before achieving that goal, however, Ilyena will travel to southern Uganda and spend nine months working at the Engeye Health Clinic -- an opportunity made possible through the Minerva Fellows program.  While there, she will teach and work alongside scholars, expanding her education in global health care.

Traveling is one of many passions for Kozain, who grew up in Germany and earned an appreciation for traveling at an early age. "My parents were always big travelers so that has been incorporated into my life since I was very young," says Ilyena, who now resides in New London, N.H.  "Traveling, and being uncomfortable in your travel is a very fundamental way to learn about who you are, who you are in stressful situations. and how you perceive your society."

In spring 2013, Kozain took part in a research-based study abroad assignment for science majors. Working in Sicily, Italy, she spent 10 weeks at a national laboratory studying the link between between Alzheimer's and obesity, while also learning Italian on the side.  She enjoyed the lab work, describing it as something very different than what she had been doing at Union.

Prior to that, she spent her sophomore winter semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina, studying human rights and gender issues in society.  "I have never done more new things than my three weeks there," she recalls of the experience.

Kozain's days are fully-booked, but she wouldn't prefer it any other way.  In addition to her studies and athletic endeavors, she has found the time to serve as a Minerva Mentor, helping students with their time management and study skills, while also serving as a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.  With SAAC, she is part of sub-committee working on bringing the Chi Alpha Sigma national honor society to campus.

"Being a student-athlete, it's fundamental for me to manage my time.  I really thrive on having a full schedule, I like feeling useful and productive."

Kozain credits her teammates on the crew team has being an inspiration for her.  She is one of six seniors who will wrap up their careers this weekend at the New York State Championships.  Kozain took to the sport quickly, integrating herself into the varsity boat during the spring semester of her freshman year.  She received Oarswoman of the Year honors that season and has been a three-year captain for the Dutchwomen. 

Ilyena's leadership has not gone unnoticed, she has an ubiquitous presence on the team.

"She's very vocal and makes the goals of the team clear to everyone, which is super helpful," says senior teammate Lauren Hafkemeyer.  "She always has a smile on her face, ready to attack what is next.  She leads by example and always works hard, no matter what."

"Ilyena has a lot on her plate, so her achievements are even more impressive," says first-year coach Burt Apfelbaum.  "She manages it with grace, and as a captain, has been a good conduit to the team."

Not even diabetes has slowed Ilyena down, who credits a positive outlook on life as a key to her success.

"To me everything is about attitude," she says. "If you are going to be happy in life, it's your decision to make."
Located in  Andover, NH,  Proctor Academy is a private coeducational day and boarding school for grades 912. Students benefit from a rigorous academic program, experiential off-campus programs, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.
204 Main Street  .  PO Box 500  .  Andover, NH 03216
p. (603) 735-6000   f. (603) 735-6300