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‘Giving back to your community was part of your survival strategy’

For Shuffler Yuliya Kondratenko giving back is natural
August 25, 2017
By Yuliya Kondratenko

Shuffle 24 Concordia’s Shuffle walkathon has raised nearly $1.4 million and benefited more than 800 students.

Yuliya Kondratenko, financial officer, Research Funds, Financial Services, shares her thoughts on the Shuffle, a Concordia tradition since 1990:

I grew up in a small rural community in Western Russia, where the majority of the population lived below the poverty line. Giving back to the community was part of your survival strategy. When you had extra food, clothes or water, you shared with your neighbours. You knew they would do the same when it was your turn to be down on your luck.

Yuliya Kondratenko Yuliya Kondratenko (left), a member of the Shuffle 28 Advisory Committee, is pictured with another Shuffler at the 2016 event.

When I moved to Montreal to study at Concordia, I looked for ways to feel at home again — to feel a sense of belonging in a tight-knit community. Concordia became my new home.

The annual Shuffle walkathon encapsulates that community spirit. Participants raise funds for scholarships and bursaries that go to deserving students, and walk together as a community. Now in its 28th year, Shuffle has raised nearly $1.4 million and benefited more than 800 students.

Now that I’ve graduated and work at Concordia, I have participated in the last three Shuffle walkathons. That still makes me a beginner. I applaud the veteran Shufflers who have not missed a single Shuffle since the event’s inception in 1990.

The symbolic 6.5-kilometre walk from Sir George Williams Campus to Loyola Campus gets me out of my office — and out of my routine. It helps me reflect.

I think back about my own experience as an international student, juggling studies and part-time jobs trying to make ends meet. I think about how many other students at our university probably have stories to tell about overcoming similar struggles.

I think about how much it would mean to them to receive a Shuffle scholarship or bursary during such a moment of struggle. I picture those happy faces in my mind’s eye, and I keep on walking to honour those stories and those students.

Each of us has our own reason to Shuffle. I asked other Concordians what they love about our campus tradition. Here’s what they had to say:

Zeynep Arsel

Zeynep Arsel, associate professor, Department of Marketing, John Molson School of Business

“At a recent Shuffle, I met two new colleagues from my faculty who I would have not met otherwise, since their offices are on a different floor. We still get together for coffee and a chat about our research from time to time. 

I like to Shuffle because it’s another great way to support our students, apart from teaching and supervising their research. At last year’s event, one of the speakers — a past Shuffle award recipient — turned out to be one of my students. Listening to her and realizing the impact of the scholarship on her experience made it less abstract for me.”

Rudy Piegsa

Rudy Piegsa, BComm 03, senior application analyst, Instructional and Information Technology Services

“I have enjoyed participating in the Concordia Shuffle over the past 27 years. I’ve collected thousands of dollars over the years — from generous family, friends, neighbours and other personal contacts. Together we have enabled so many deserving recipients to focus on achieving their academic goals.

In fact, the son of one of my sponsors recently received an entrance scholarship. It was a profoundly happy moment for the whole family. Examples like this remind us how important it is to keep this wonderful tradition alive.”

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