Lidiya Smityukh

Lidiya shares her story
Lidiya always knew she would go to college. In Ukraine where she grew up, her family never had that option and came to the United States to give her and her siblings a better life. For Lidiya, a better life meant going to college. Recognizing that education opens doors, she worked hard in high school and began her studies at Portland State University, pursuing a degree in human resources and business administration. Shortly after her marriage in 2007, Lidiya lost her financial aid and got laid off from her job, making it difficult to make ends meet and finish school. Unsure of how she was going to pay for school, Lidiya considered dropping out, but was focused on completing her degree. “When you have a goal, you can’t step away from it,” Lidiya mused, adding that her family thought she would drop out, that she would not last the year. Lidiya learned about CASA’s college savings program through a family member and saw it as a needed boost to finish school. The savings goal of $1000 in one year daunted her, but after seeing it broken into smaller monthly goals, she realized she could do it by cutting out certain expenses, like driving to school or buying lunch or coffee each day. “It’s hard to live life paycheck to paycheck,” said Lidiya, adding she felt embarrassed to disclose her low checking and savings account balances on her application. A year later, Lidiya boasts that she and her husband repaid $10,000 in debt through budgeting and goal-setting. As part of her financial education, Lidiya created a budget that helped her save and decrease the mountains of debt she had accumulated from student loans and credit cards, using the same strategy of setting smaller goals to achieve a larger goal that she did with her college savings. It was the “hardest part but the most important thing: telling yourself to put money aside and learning to cut down on expenses.” When Lidiya graduated in the spring of 2009, she was the first person from her family to graduate from college. Finishing college has made her a role model for her siblings and opened up career opportunities. Now, she and her husband “stick to the budget and save money” before making a purchase. Her family was amazed with her patience and determination, but Lidiya never doubted herself: “You learn about yourself and what you’re capable of doing. I had to get my degree.” After getting her Bachelor’s degree from Portland State University, Lidiya accepted a job offer at Pacific Foods in Tualatin, where she works in the human resources department. Congratulations, Lidiya!

Contact Us

Tel: 503-537-0319
Fax: 503-537-0998
20508 SW Roy Rogers Rd. Suite 155 Sherwood, OR 97140