Student Spotlight: Nadiya Verstyak

Ukrainian-born EMS student and full-time mother of five

Nadiya Verstyak, 30, a student in the Emergency Medical Services program at Inver Hills Community College, is originally from Viktorovka, a tiny village in southwestern Ukraine near Berezanka, an urban settlement of 6,400 people just north of the Black Sea. Nadiya moved to the Minnesota with her husband, Peter, also from Ukraine, in 2007. Both Nadiya and Peter became U.S. citizens in 2015.
“Moving to America and learning English was a difficult challenge,” said Nadiya, who is fluent in Ukrainian and Russian. She soon added English to her list of languages. She and her husband made sure their children are also fluent in Ukrainian and Russian. “We love living in the U.S. The people are so friendly and welcoming.”

Nadiya and Peter with their five children
Nadiya and Peter with their five children
Nadiya is going to college full-time and is on track to earn her 75-credit Associate of Science (A.S.) in Emergency Medical Services: Traditional Track Paramedic degree in fall 2017. Nadiya is also raising five young children, the oldest 12, the youngest seven.
“Three of our children were born in Ukraine, but they are very happy living and going to school in Minnesota,” she said. “Teachers in Ukraine are much harsher disciplinarians.”

Three words that describe you as a person:

After graduating from Inver Hills, Nadiya would like to work as a paramedic for Allina Health. She is aiming to continue her training in the near future to become a community paramedic. She can earn the 12-credit Community Paramedic certificate at Inver. Her long-range goals are focused on becoming a surgical assistant.
“When I was living in Ukraine, I was involved in a serious car accident,” Nadiya said. “I was unhurt, but one of my neighbors was gravely injured. The police and paramedics took more than an hour to arrive even though they were only a short distance away. My neighbor’s experience inspired me to want to take action and help people in their worst moments of life. Plus those lights and sirens would always make me think: ‘I want to be there, I want to do that, I want to make a difference!'”
Nadiya and Peter reside in Blaine, Minnesota, with their three girls, Tetyana, 12, Veronika, 10, and Nadi, 9, and their two boys, Petro, 11, and Leo, 7. When she’s not studying or caring for her family, Nadiya enjoys knitting, swimming and reading.
“While I’m so involved in the EMS program,” she said with a smile, “I feel like my best pastime is sleeping.”

Ukraine snapshot

  • Roughly the size of Texas, Ukraine is the largest country located entirely inside Europe.
  • Ukraine has more than 44.2 million people; nearly 78 percent are ethnic Ukrainian; just over 17 percent are ethnic Russian.
  • Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev, population 2.9 million, is one of the most historic and beautiful cities in the world; Kiev is 5,000 miles away from Minneapolis.
  • Ukraine is bordered by seven countries, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Moldova.
  • Ukraine became a sovereign nation in August 1991 after the downfall of the Soviet Union.

More about Nadiya…

Nadiya Verstyak
Nadiya Verstyak
What is you most memorable experience at Inver?
I was driving to campus during a winter storm to take a final exam in an EMS class when my car slid off the road and got stuck in the snow. An EMS classmate came and rescued me and I was able to take and pass the exam. My husband, Peter, brought my car to campus later that day, but he didn’t tell me what lot he parked it in. I think I searched every lot at the college until I finally found my car—and it was a very cold day.
What do you like best about the EMS program at Inver?
The willingness of the instructors to help each student succeed. Also, I like the feeling of being a part of one big family where oldest “brothers and sisters” help youngest ones. The program is very rigorous. One of my toughest assignments was a scenario where we had to perform a rescue in the woods on a very cold day in hilly terrain. The mannequin we rescued must have weighed 200 pounds.
What are a paramedic’s most rewarding duties?
I think it’s a proper treatment done in a timely manner: right treatment—better outcome.
What are a paramedic’s toughest duties?
I believe it’s a paramedic’s own psychological stability. We cannot perform our duties effectively if we are not able to deal with ourselves. Another big one is a patient’s family and relatives.

EMS info session

Interested in learning more about exciting career opportunities in the Emergency Medical Services field? Attend the following information session to learn more about our EMT program, Paramedic program and additional certification opportunities.

Friday, April 14, 2017 • noon – 1:30 p.m.

Sign up now

What would you tell someone thinking about enrolling in the EMS program?
I would tell them that a career in EMS is definitely not about money because it’s not one of the higher paying jobs. You need to really love what you will be doing as an EMT, AEMT or paramedic. I would also tell to the person that he/she should forget about sleep…and to be ready to see and hear a lot of things that normally aren’t supposed to happen to people.
What is the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to you?
Going on a cruise for the first time. We were on a boat by Niagara Falls and my husband decided he wanted to go cruising on a bigger boat. The next thing I knew our whole family was taking a five-day cruise to the Bahamas.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Kids are my greatest accomplishment!!! And, of course, to learn English at age 22 and become a college student.
What person has influenced you the most in life?
My mother: I learned from her how to become an independent person, how to do/not to do basic life skills, and to appreciate everything that life brings us.

Nadiya gallery

Nadiya Verstyak | 21 Answers

  1. nadiya_14Favorite season: My favorite season is a summer—a lot of outdoors activities, plus lots of birthdays in a family
  2. Favorite natural feature (e.g., waterfalls, oceans, mountains, etc.): Oceans, I literally grew up on a Black Sea
  3. Favorite sport or physical activity: Volleyball and swimming
  4. Your national bird if you could have one: Pigeon
  5. Place you would most like to visit: Hawaii
  6. Favorite holiday: Christmas
  7. Your national symbol if you could have one: Ukrainian coat of arms
  8. nadiya_12Favorite actor or actress: Reese Witherspoon
  9. Favorite band or performing artist: Stas Mikhaylov, Russian singer and songwriter
  10. Your personal motto if you had to have one: “Before saying something, make sure your tongue is connected to the brain.”
  11. Coolest thing in the world: Human brain
  12. Scariest thing in the world: Spiders, snakes and darkness
  13. Favorite all-time TV show: Grey’s Anatomy
  14. Favorite all-time movie: Gone with the Wind
  15. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: I want to succeed in my career so my children will be proud of me.
  16. Most precious material possession: Our house
  17. nadiya_13First thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: 14-day Hawaiian cruise for entire family
  18. Dream occupation: Paramedic
  19. Person you would most like to meet: Melania Trump; she’s from Slovenia, which is a Slavic country like Ukraine 
  20. Skill you would most like to learn and master: Snow skiing
  21. Humankind’s greatest challenge: I believe it’s food, air and water.

About EMS at Inver…

First responders, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics are primarily employed at the following locations:

  • Public safety agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Private and public ambulance services
  • Fire departments

EMTs and paramedics provide care in a variety of emergency medical and traumatic situations. With enough education or experience, they  can become emergency service supervisors, managers, directors or executive directors.
As a program graduate, you are eligible to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT) written and practical exams to become certified nationally and in the state of Minnesota.

Application for Paramedic Core Program Fall Semester 2017

Application deadline: Friday, March 24, 2017, at 4 p.m.


The Inver Hills Community College EMS program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs upon the recommendation of the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP).

nadiya_15Student-centered learning

Higher Learning Commission
Reaffirmation of Accreditation

Criterion Two
Ethical and Responsible Conduct

2.B. The institution presents itself clearly and completely to its students and to the public with regard to its programs, requirements, faculty and staff, costs to students, control, and accreditation relationships.
2.E. The institution’s policies and procedures call for responsible acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge by its faculty, students, and staff.

  1. The institution provides effective oversight and support services to ensure the integrity of research and scholarly practice conducted by its faculty, staff, and students.
  2. Students are offered guidance in the ethical use of information resources.

Criterion Three
Teaching and Learning:
Quality, Resources, and Support

3.A. The institution’s degree programs are appropriate to higher education.

  1. Courses and programs are current and require levels of performance by students appropriate to the degree or certificate awarded.
  2. The institution articulates and differentiates learning goals for its undergraduate, graduate, post-baccalaureate, post-graduate, and certificate programs.

3.B. The institution demonstrates that the exercise of intellectual inquiry and the acquisition, application, and integration of broad learning and skills are integral to its educational programs.

  1. The general education program is appropriate to the mission, educational offerings, and degree levels of the institution.
  2. The institution articulates the purposes, content, and intended learning outcomes of its undergraduate general education requirements. The program of general education is grounded in a philosophy or framework developed by the institution or adopted from an established framework. It imparts broad knowledge and intellectual concepts to students and develops skills and attitudes that the institution believes every college-educated person should possess.

Criterion Four
Teaching and Learning:
Evaluation and Improvement

The institution demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement.
4.B. The institution demonstrates a commitment to educational achievement and improvement through ongoing assessment of student learning.

  1. The institution has clearly stated goals for student learning and effective processes for assessment of student learning and achievement of learning goals.
To learn more about the EMS program at Inver Hills, contact:

Jeff Morgan
Director of Emergency Services
Heritage Hall 103

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