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Life Lessons at Pitt, in Russian


Kelly Miller (A&S ’02):

I came to Pitt completely undecided. I had no idea what I wanted to be in life or where I wanted to take myself in a career path. I dabbled my freshman year taking various sorts of electives just to try and get a taste of what I should be doing. While I was busy attempting different paths, I kept coming back to the Russian department. When people would ask what was I studying and I would reply among other things Russian culture and language, they couldn’t understand why I would do it, and at the time—I couldn't give a sound answer other than it interested me and I liked it. By the end of my time at Pitt, I had earned a degree in communications and had many varying Russian courses under my belt. I couldn’t even really explain to my advisor why I had done it. I was repeatedly told I should head a different direction and take courses that related to my major more directly.

Fast forward eight years: I was married and filling out an application to adopt a child from Russia, finally realizing what it was all for. It seemed like common sense! And to think the idea was my husband’s, not mine. For us, adopting a child was frequently an open discussion, but not going to Russia! 

Another year later, and we had been to Russia twice. We spent a total of five weeks in-country and never before had my time at Pitt been so important. The language came back to me like riding a bicycle, as did the history and culture. On our last day in Moscow, after a three-week stay in St. Petersburg and one week in Moscow, with our new son in tow, I was glad I had studied something I enjoyed. I even shocked our translator at the end of our trip when I told her what something was in Russian (for the previous three weeks I had let her think we were clueless). I may not have been the best speaker in my classes, but what I learned then, and what Pitt gave me to offer my son when he’s older, are priceless.