October 3, 2013 | Borough of Manhattan Community College
This has been a busy year for Mykola Kyrychuk. This past spring he was named an Honoree of the Engineering Science department and graduated from BMCC with a 3.8 GPA. He is currently pursuing his Bachelors at Cornell on a Richard Dewar Scholarship. But those bare facts convey only one piece of a remarkable complex picture: At BMCC, he attended classes, worked summers as a research assistant, and mentored fellow students—all while working full-time.
Growing up in a small town in the Ukraine, Kyrychuk studied engineering and then moved to the U.S. in 2007 to continue his education. “I’ve always been fascinated by infrastructure, such as buildings and bridges, and came here in the hope of studying civil engineering,” he says. He enrolled in BMCC in 2010.
Making every minute count
“What I especially liked about BMCC was that classes were set up in a way that accommodated students’ work schedules,” he says. That was an important draw, since Kyrychuk’s job in a Tribeca restaurant initially took up as much as 45 hours a week. “I’d go to class from 8 to 10, work from 11 to 3, then go back to school, finishing up at the restaurant in the evening,” he says. This was in addition to a two-hour round-trip commute each day. He used his subway time to study.
In his first year, Kyrychuk took an introductory engineering course with science professor Mahmoud Ardebili, who oversees the college’s engineering science program. He excelled academically and earned an A, as he did in all but one other class he took at BMCC. (He received an A- in Calculus). He also spent the next two years as a research assistant to Ardebili, analyzing the structural properties of concrete, and the many ways it sustains damage. Kyrychuk also found time to mentor fellow students in the Reach One Teach One program.
Ardebili is quick to note that Kyrychuk’s near-perfect academic record was only one factor in his acceptance by Cornell. “Mykola is an exceptionally hard worker and problem-solver who requires minimal help and guidance in doing research,” he says. “He never missed a class or a homework assignment in the courses he took with me while making a significant contribution to our research effort.”
While research is typically an intellectual enterprise, Kyrychuk is especially drawn to its hands-on aspect. He believes his early life experience may have been a factor.
“I grew up on our family farm, where there was always plenty of work to do and everything had to be done by hand,” he says. “I helped my father and learned from him.”
A view to the future
As Kyrychuk moves forward in his work at Cornell, he is finding the rural environment of upstate New York more conducive than Manhattan to intensive study and quiet contemplation of his future. He still has his eye on a career in civil engineering.
“BMCC—and Professor Ardebili in particular—made a big difference in my life,” he says. “Professor Ardebili was passionate about his work and that passion rubbed off on his students. He spent a lot of time sharing his knowledge with me and pushing me to never give up.”
Of course, Kyrychuk has never viewed giving up as an attractive option. “There is always something to do,” he says. “There is always something new to create.”