Oxford dream comes true

May 26, 2005, vol. 33, no. 3
By Stuart Colcleugh

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Ever since she was a child growing up in Kazakhstan, Alisa Voznaya has fantasized about studying at Oxford. “It's true,” laughs Voznaya, who immigrated to Canada from the former Soviet republic when she was 12, settling in Coquitlam with her family in 1996. “I come from an academic family and I've known about Oxford since I was about five. It's always been my goal, my dream to go there.”

Next fall, that dream will come true when she begins an interdisciplinary masters degree in Russian and East European studies at Oxford, following her graduation from SFU this spring with a BA in political science and very respectable 3.77 cumulative GPA. But most dreams don't happen without a lot of effort and determination, says Voznaya who has demonstrated a great capacity for both, working and volunteering while maintaining top marks throughout her academic career.

“Knowledge coupled with ambition is the essence of who I am,” she says in perfect, accentless English, though her mother tongue is Russian and she also speaks French.

She had planned on a career in journalism and spent long hours as editor-in-chief of her high school newspaper and as a reporter and opinions editor at SFU's student newspaper, The Peak. But a brief co-op stint at a local newspaper soured her on that idea.

Now, following her masters degree, she plans to complete a PhD and eventually become a university professor.

Voznaya has been very active politically, both on campus as president and VP-financial with the political science student union and as a representative to the model United Nations, and off campus as a field researcher for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

She has also volunteered for years with the Canadian Red Cross, most recently promoting an international ban on landmines.

She has an insatiable appetite for books. “I read everything,” she says. “I read poetry, fiction, non-fiction, whatever, and I have three jobs within the library. It sounds corny but I'm passionate about constantly acquiring knowledge.”

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