Russian Finds “American Dream”: RIC Alumna Tetyana Chmyrova

Tetyana Chmyrova ’13

Tetyana Chmyrova ’13


Tetyana Chmyrova was born in Russia, but America has been her home since the age of 16. After she earned her nursing degree at Rhode Island College in 2013, she decided to give back to the country that had adopted her. She has applied for a nursing position in the U.S. military. “To serve my country would be such an honor,” she said.

Chmyrova came from a country where college prospects are limited. “My mother had moved from Russia to Ukraine when I was two. If I had stayed in Ukraine, I would not have been able to attend college,” she said. “I might have made it into a technical school to learn a trade, but I wouldn’t have been able to realize my dream of becoming a nurse.”

She moved to America to live with her father, brother and stepmother in Canton, Mass., and enrolled as a freshman at Canton High School. She said, “I spoke not a word of English. I didn’t understand anything the teachers were saying.” In her junior year, after two years of ESL and Latin, she volunteered for Chernobyl Children International and found not only her voice but her vocation.

Each summer, children who have been affected by the fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 are flown to America from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. They receive 45 days of free medical treatment by American doctors, nurses, surgeons and dentists in Massachusetts, while living with American hosts. Chmyrova acted as translator for the families, making use of her ability to speak both Russian and Ukrainian. 

By sitting in on the families’ medical appointments, Chmyrova said she noticed that the doctors were not able to spend as much time with the patients as nurses. “I noticed that nurses went beyond standard care. They took time to get to know their patients. They focused on the healing of both body and spirit. That’s when I fell in love with nursing,” she said.

Chmyrova enrolled at RIC's School of Nursing because "it was a competitive school where the majority of students successfully pass the national nursing exam," she said. When she received her acceptance letter into the program, she said, “I cried so much. I had heard a lot of horror stories about people who had applied and been denied.” That year she was also granted U.S. citizenship.

In 2013 she earned her BSN and applied to the Air Force Nursing Corp. Serving as a nurse in the military would be, what she described, her “dream job.” Her application is currently being reviewed, and she hopes to hear from the recruiting officer by the end of August. In the meantime, she has passed the NCLEX (National Council of State Boards of Nursing) examination and is now a licensed registered nurse.

Looking back, she said, “One of the best decisions I ever made was choosing to come to this country. I am so grateful for all the opportunities America has given me, and I am grateful to Rhode Island College.”