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Ryan Baird (B.A. 2013)

"During the end of my junior year in high school and after three discouraging years of German I was encouraged by the Russian language teacher to enroll in Russian 101 my senior year. Against all advice from my parents I enrolled and soon discovered that my tongue was meant to speak Russian. Shortly after high school I spent two years (2005-2007) in Ukraine as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My work there brought me very close to the people there. I obtained a greater fluency of Russian, and learned much about every day life in eastern Ukraine and about some of the history of that area. Returning home I studied Russian more in depth and have read a lot on the history of Russia and eastern Europe. My wife and I will celebrate our three-year anniversary this December and will also welcome our first child. We moved to Charlottesville a year ago after I completed my associates degree and now I plan on completing a degree in Russian Language and Literature while double majoring in Foreign Affairs. I hope to apply my understanding of this region and language to a rewarding career in Foreign Affairs or intelligence."