Published: Feb. 1, 2019 By

Second Year MBA Student SpotlightPlease give us a brief background of yourself and what you’re hoping to do with your Leeds MBA.

Originally from Ukraine, I moved to the United States at the tender age of 15. As a little boy, I always dreamed about America since it seemed to have all the answers, all the freedoms, all the opportunities I could desire. Thus, when a chance to become an exchange student came along, I did not hesitate for a moment and took that leap of faith. Fast forward 11 years and here I am - an American Citizen, fulfilling the coveted American Dream.

It was a long path that included cultural hardships of being from a foreign country, academic hardships of becoming a college freshman at 16, and professional hardships of trying to find a job that would sponsor me to stay here. My biggest success came in a form of the United States Army offering me American citizenship in return for my service and use of my native language skills. I could not have been happier when I said the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time and saluted the American Flag.

Second Year MBA Student SpotlightAfter my military service, I wanted to pursue my graduate degree. The Leeds School of Business at CU Boulder was my top choice to do so, and I was ecstatic when the admission letter came in the mail. Now, I am hoping to use my concentration in Entrepreneurship and Finance to benefit as many people as possible outside of our school. Education never stops though and I look forward to continue learning something new during every stage of my life that follows. I admire all of the professionals that I have come across during my time at CU, and my biggest goal is to not let any of them down.

Has your military background been helpful in your experience going back to school?

Absolutely! I have come to enjoy the discipline and routine that comes from military operations. I had to adhere to a strict regime, recognize authority, become extremely detail oriented. Soldiers in the Army come from many different walks of life, and I had to respect, get along and work with many of them. Other military values like respect, honesty, integrity, leading by example - are indispensable and can be crucial in any life setting, especially in business school, where a lot of work is done in team settings. Plus, having to jump out of a perfectly functioning airplane 1,200 feet in the air and hoping my parachute opened normally has raised my confidence limit significantly.

MBA Blog Leeds School of BusinessWhat opportunities have you taken advantage of as a veteran?

There are many useful benefits to becoming a student after serving in the military. First and foremost, the GI Bill pays my tuition, which has been extremely helpful for my financial standing. Veterans are given leeway for being out of state. Additionally, a monthly housing allowance helps me afford the expensive Boulder living. Many more smaller advantages exist too - from a free premium LinkedIn subscription, to discounts at restaurants and stores. Though they may seem insignificant, they are actually quite valuable at the end of a day.

What advice would you give to a fellow service member/veteran interested in applying to business school?

Do not be afraid! I know how difficult it may seem to get out of your comfort zone, follow a steep learning curve and network with hundreds of strangers. But you already possess all the right tools to succeed in this environment. You’ve already dealt with critical time constraints, adversity on teams, physical and emotional pressures that were far more difficult than anything a business school can throw at you.

Finally, what’s your favorite karaoke song?

Oh no, karaoke is definitely not my forte. I could probably dance to most of the songs, but you certainly do not want to hear me singing. Better yet - throw me a soccer ball instead of a microphone and I couldn’t be happier.

MBA Blog Leeds School of Business

Zakhar and Leeds classmates peaking 14er, Mt. Bierstadt



Please send your thoughts, suggestions, ideas, tips and love notes to