Oksana’s story does not begin in Boston — it begins in Ukraine.
When she was only nine years old, Oksana Hradyska moved to the US from Ukraine with her family. Having just immigrated, Oksana was quickly forced to adapt to an abundance of changes in a completely new world. But she didn’t just adapt — she thrived.
Oksana believes that immigration can “activate your mind to become flexible and fearless.” And now, nearly two decades later, it is easy to see just how fearless Oksana truly is. With a more than successful career in the medical device field, the founding of a non-profit organization and a true passion for life all under her belt, she has transformed her fearless nature into a hungry desire to change the world — a change that, she believes, starts by helping the women of Boston.
However, her path to social and economic justice was not a straightforward one. Oksana attended Simmons College to pursue a degree in biochemistry. But during these classes, she took the time to observe her peers, and what she saw was alarming. “I noticed how many women struggled to find sitters for the children during lecture. I also noticed how women either brought their children to lecture with them or drop out,” she said. “And, unfortunately, many women did eventually have to drop out because things got too difficult for them. And that shouldn’t have to happen.”
With a quote from Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in mind guiding her (“I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved,”) Oksana decided that she would create an organization that seeks to help these mothers continue going to college classes so that they, too, could achieve economic justice.
And, indeed, help the women of Boston she did.
She knew the challenges that would come from creating a non-profit organization. But, she also knew how much she resented the system that forced women to make these choices. “There is a very obvious gap in our societal system that prevents single mothers from attaining their degrees,” she added. “I knew I needed to create a solution for this issue I saw in my community.” So, with a heavy heart and a drive fueled by a desire and willingness to help other women, Oksana created Sitters Without Borders, or SWOB.
Her organization, now firmly established and boasting many volunteers, allows females with children to receive free babysitting services every week. This way, they can advance their education and careers without abandoning their children. Sitters Without Borders is a widely respected and recognized organization, but even with its success, Oksana still believes there is more to be done.
“It’s 2017, and in many ways, the world still needs so much more development and new ideas,” she said. “I think we all have our own unique assets that should be put on the table to help our communities improve. And that could be by helping people advance into economic independence or something simpler.”
Sticking to her roots.
Oksana, even though she now works in the biotech field with medical devices, is still the president of SWOB.
“My immigration experience activated my mind to become flexible, adaptable, and eager to learn new things,” she said. “Without it, I’m not sure I would have taken such a feat on,”
“I need to keep SWOB strong for the whole community because the advancement of mothers significantly benefits everyone. My mother shaped me into the person I am today,” she said. “She is fearless, but what’s even better is that when she sees a challenge, she takes it on, even when she does have fear.”