Four Cities, Three Countries, Two Courses and One Decision that Changed Everything
“At any moment the decision you make can change the course of your life forever.” Tony Robbins
Moscow, Russia (2005)
Kurskaya. That’s the name of a busiest train station in Moscow. It’s also the Russian word for “course,” which seemed especially apropos that hot summer day in 2005 as I rushed through the station on my way to the Moscow School of Higher Economics. I couldn’t wait to submit my application. Once accepted, my course in life would be set. I was 16-years-old, a new high school graduate, and I was finally on my way…
… Or was I?
As I stepped onto the escalator, surrounded by beautiful sights and a peculiar smell so unique to Moscow’s underground, I had an epiphany: Wait a minute! What if this isn’t the course my life should be taking? What if I’m meant for something else? Suddenly, it felt like my life had turned upside down. Now what?
Columbus, Ohio USA (2005)
After much soul searching, and with the support of my family, I found myself on an airplane just a few months later, headed on a totally different course – to the United States… a place where I knew I would have the chance to achieve more.
As the plane ascended into the clouds, I was nervous but strangely energized. I didn’t know what was waiting for me on the other side of the world. But because I was fortunate enough to have started learning English at a young age, I was prepared to face the unknown. I figured, what’s the worst that could happen? Thankfully I was naïve and capable of only seeing the bright side of the situation.
Ironically, it wasn’t until later that I realized that very few people pick up at the ripe old age of 16, leave everything and everyone they’ve ever known, and go to another country all alone, with nothing but hope and determination to lead the way. In the back of my head I knew that if it didn’t work, as a last resort, I could always return home. But I was determined to make it work.
And it definitely took every ounce of determination I had.
The plan was to stay with family friends who lived in Columbus, Ohio while I studied for the SAT. After a few months the family I was staying with had to go back to Russia. It was my first setback, but it actually helped get things moving. Although they introduced me to a lot of great people in the city who I could rely on for advice and support, I knew that to achieve my goals, I had to be very resourceful.
I found a roommate, moved into a tiny apartment and took whatever jobs I could find… cleaning houses and hotel rooms, mending and sewing, babysitting and working in food service.
I earned enough for rent and some food, and even purchased my first car for $1,200. I saved whatever was leftover for tuition. I took the SAT and was accepted to Columbus Community College.
My educational journey required me to work and study day in and day out. It demanded focus, and commitment, and looking back, it was a necessary step in shaping my character.
Although it was challenging, and although my choice to take this step caused my family a lot of worry, I knew I had their love and support every step of the way. That’s what helped keep me going even in the most difficult of times.
The hard work and good grades paid off, allowing me to transfer to The Ohio State University where, two years later, I graduated with a degree in finance (for practical reasons) and minor in theater (to feed my creative urges). During my last year there, I also met my husband, Alex.
… Who could have guessed?
Five years before, as I was making my way through the crowded Kurskaya station, I never could have imagined the course my life would take. As I made my way across the field to accept my diploma, I felt incredibly grateful that I had listened to my gut and glad that I had followed my heart. I couldn’t wait to see the course my life would take from here…
It was time to become gainfully employed. So, as any new college grad would do, I began applying for jobs. I thought I’d end up working in the general vicinity, but little did I know my plans were about to veer off course once again when I happened to come across an investment banking opportunity across the ocean that I couldn’t pass up.
Gurgaon, India (2010)
Once again, I found myself on an airplane heading to yet another part of the world, Gurgaon, India, for a year. I was a bit older and, arguably, wiser, but once again I was leaving everyone and everything I knew behind me, with only my new college degree and my fierce determination to rely on. I was 21 years old, a new college graduate, and I was finally on my way…
… Or was I?
There’s nothing quite like the opportunity to travel and live in a different country to help you gain perspective on the world. India is a unique place with a rich colorful culture, wonderful people and an array of contradictions. Gurgaon is where I truly learned the meaning of hard work. I really enjoyed my job and the chance to meet new people.
Shortly after arriving however, I realized that I had not come to India alone. I discovered that the sick feeling I was having all the time was not related to the new environment or the cuisine… I was pregnant!
My life had again changed course in a most unexpended and amazing way. I went back to to settle down with Alex eight months earlier than planned.
Back in the USA!
Law school had been on my mind for a long time. So instead of applying for a new job, I decided to spend the rest of my pregnancy studying for the LSATs. I was accepted to Northern Kentucky University Law School and attended my first class just three months after my son was born. One year later I transferred to the University of Cincinnati Law School. My last year there was especially amazing and eventful, not just because I received my law degree, but because we had our daughter.
I took the BAR exam and landed my current job in the field of tax law.
Reflecting back and looking forward
The course my life has taken is a far cry from my humble beginnings in Russia in the late 80’s. The stories of my parents having to stand in long lines for hours, even days, for some powdered milk and a few pounds of meat to feed and raise us serve as a powerful motivator for me to always strive for more.
My parents’ decision to teach me English gave me a bridge to a world of opportunity. They instilled in me the importance of achieving the highest level of education, which is what helped guide me through my journey (and kept me out of trouble!)
The support of my family and the kindness of everyone who I met along the way gave me the strength and the confidence I needed to succeed. But there’s still so much more to do…
Setting a new course
My first major epiphany happened in a Moscow metro station, the second one happened on the park bench as my infant daughter cried relentlessly in my arms. I had a bottle of chilled breast milk with me, but offering her cold milk only made things worse. She was getting hungrier by the minute. I shoved the bottle under my arm in a hopeless attempt to warm the contents with my body heat. I started to wonder if it was even worth leaving the house.
But you know what they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.”
It was that day — on that very park bench — when I conceived of an idea that later became MOX, a completely wireless compact container capable of heating up its content from cold up to 160 degrees.
Now that we've launched the Kickstarter campaign to take MOX to the consumer market, I cannot help but feel immense gratitude for making that one decision, that one fateful day, that changed the course of my life forever.
But… is there still more to come?