Natalie Tikhonovsky is a sophomore Public Health major at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. She is a dynamic student and a passionate leader on campus and throughout the community. For the past five years, Natalie has worked with refugees internationally and in the United States; providing ESL classes, health and wellness programs, and disaster relief. At Furman, she has become a refugee advocate and raised awareness by founding groups and programs that educate and inspire action. Her deep understanding and exposure to the obstacles refugees face allow her to think critically about solutions and points of collaboration between diverse stakeholders.
When refugees arrive in the United States, their futures are oftentimes fraught with peril. Not only must they learn to negotiate the complex landscape of education, health care, employment, and public assistance in the U.S., but they must also contend with the hostile rhetoric surrounding immigration. As the granddaughter of a Holocaust refugee and the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, I have always felt deeply sympathetic towards the plight of refugees and displaced people across the globe. Over the past 5 years, I have worked extensively with refugee populations both Stateside and overseas. Many of the leadership roles I have occupied are the product of my own design. I founded a nonprofit called Bridges to the Broken which provides humanitarian relief to refugees in Ukraine, and spent my gap year at a refugee center in Kiev, Ukraine. I worked as a Refugee Resettlement Intern at World Relief in Clarkston, Georgia, considered home by over 8,000 refugees. In an effort to usher in a new era of refugee advocacy and awareness at Furman, I serve as the leader of multiple refugee-related projects and initiatives on campus, including the Alternative Spring Break Refugee Resettlement Trip, the Refugee Task Force, and No Lost Generation.