At age 12 Danielle Chelom Leavitt Quist moved with her family from Utah to Ukraine, where her parents taught at law schools for nearly 10 years. “Living there as a young woman was amazing. It changed everything for me,” she says. No one was surprised when she chose to study Russian at BYU, and when she decided to serve a mission, she was called to Ukraine.
“In Provo working closely with my professors was the most beneficial thing,” says Leavitt Quist. “It gave me the confidence to succeed academically.”
At BYU Leavitt Quist was named a Russian scholar laureate by a national council, and she was awarded two ORCA research grants—one of which took her again to Ukraine. There, she studied the role of women in preserving traditional culture.
“I lived with them. I got to know and love them. I got really interested in who these women are, especially the babushka. Many of them do so much with so little.” Leavitt Quist wrote about her studies and was invited to present her findings at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.
Now Leavitt Quist has enrolled at Harvard to pursue a doctorate in Soviet history. “It was my experience with ORCA grants that really sparked my interest in studying what I already loved,” she says.