Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Irene Kucherova (2010)

Enhancement Pilot Program for Orphanage 1 in Kherson, Ukraine

Irene will spend nine months working with the 240 children ages 6-16 years old of Orphanage 1 in Kherson, Southern Ukraine. As wards of the state, these children live their lives in relative isolation from the wider community and are quite marginalized socially. Through outreach programs to the local community and university, Irene intends to involve community members and university students as tutors, mentors, and inspirational figures for the children through participation in structured enrichment programs. She also plans to broaden the children’s life experiences by taking them to local universities and introducing them to local educational opportunities. In addition, she will accompany groups of children to the capital city, Kiev, the political, cultural and social heart of the country. An further component of the program will be career training. Irene will help students design, create and sell their crafts at a local market. Irene believes her project can be a template pilot program for other Ukranian orphanages.

Letters Home


Irene was born and raised in Kherson, Ukraine. She moved to California in 2006 and immediately started researching the educational opportunities available to her in the United States. She spent the first two years of US higher education at Cosumnes River College, Sacramento, where she majored in architecture, an interdisciplinary field that appeals to her because it connects engineering, social science and art. While a student at Cosumnes River College, Irene worked as a tutor in the math center, where she worked with people of different ages, backgrounds and cultures. It was a very rewarding experience as she watched her student progress through the semester. She transferred to the College of Environmental Design at Cal for junior and senior years. While at Cal, she worked for the Berkeley Art Museum and tried to take the widest variety of classes offered in Architecture. Her central focus has always been sustainable and environmental design that is socially relevant. In the future, Irene would like to design and build transitional housing for orphans.

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