PINK Award Winner spends summer in Ukraine

September 28, 2017
Kalyna White '18

Kalyna White ‘18, Madeira’s 2017 Pink Award recipient, spent her summer helping orphans in Ukraine.

Kalyna founded LABUkraine, a nonprofit that takes old computer parts and distributes them to underprivileged schools and orphanages. She developed the idea because of her involvement with a local STEM program in Washington, DC. 

“All through high school I have been involved in WHS-STEM. WHS-STEM is an organization that brings middle school and high school students on field trips in STEM disciplines in homeland security. For instance, anything the Coast Guard uses that is STEM-related would be an ideal placement. I have helped them coordinate field trips with schools. I wanted to use my experience with WHS-STEM to help children around the world.”

Ukraine was a logical starting point for Kalyna because she has close ties to the European country. Though she had never traveled to Ukraine before, she was thrilled to be able to experience her family’s culture while also working to make a difference.

This summer, she started with one orphanage to ensure that it received her undivided attention. She wanted to make herself available in case any unforeseen problems arose. One of the unexpected mishaps was lightning striking the internet. Kalyna is determined to use her experiences this summer when she travels back so that she will be well prepared.

“We now have a baseline for how long it takes and for how long we can be at an orphanage. Hopefully this summer we will go to 2 or 3.”

When she is not physically in Ukraine, Kalyna is busy keeping up with the administrative and development sides of running a nonprofit. She travels to New York this fall for a fundraising event and is meeting with a company in Palo Alto, California that works to give access to STEM to Ukrainians.

In the future, Kalyna hopes to expand not only to other schools and orphanages in Ukraine, but across the globe. She is particularly eyeing Africa because of her family’s connections and the opportunity. 

“Right now, it’s just laying the groundwork. I’m trying to develop a model that I can apply to every country that has underdeveloped schools.”

In addition to running a nonprofit, Kalyna is a senior at Madeira and will be fitting in college visits, college applications, and enjoying her last year of high school.

About the PINK Award: The award, which stands for “Passion, INitiative, and Knowledge,” was established by Katherine Kies ’07 to help hardworking Madeira girls pursue a goal. Upon graduating from Madeira in 2007, Kies decided to pursue a career in the hospitality industry. She went to the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. When she won the Drown Prize Award, the top honor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, she decided to give part of that award back to Madeira in appreciation for the Co-Curriculum experience that led her to her major and subsequently this award. 

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