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Occupation: By trade, I am a Russian translator and elementary school teacher, but I have been home since I had my oldest daughter. I majored in Russian at Holy Cross as my undergrad degree and studied abroad there, then did a Fulbright scholarship where I worked in an orphanage there for a year. I loved living in the small villages and getting to know people on such a personal level. After I graduated with my master’s from Stanford in Russian, my husband-to-be at the time was going back to Boston, and I had missed being nearby family in New York, so I wound up being a teacher in Boston at an international school. For the last eight months, I’ve been tutor from home as an ESL [English as a Second Language] teacher and teach two students English, twice a week.
Family: I have three children. My oldest goes to Head O’ Meadow. Her name is Keeley, and she’s 5 years old. My middle is Cora. She’s 3 years old and goes to Village Preschool. My youngest is Maury, and he’s 1 year old. My husband, Emmet, and I met in college at Holy Cross. He’s a physician in Bethel at Village Square Internal Medicine.
How long have you lived in Newtown? We just bought our house in June last year. Before, we rented a little house in Bethel for five years while my husband was finishing medical school and completing his residency.
What do you like to do in your free time? I love to paint and write. I’ve always wanted to be a children’s book author.
Do you have a favorite book or author? I just finished The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I also really like Adriana Trigiani, she wrote Big Stone Gap and The Shoemaker’s Wife. There’s a magazine called Russian Life that I really like, that has contributions from all over the world about Russian culture, history, and part of it is in Russian.
What is your favorite travel destination? My husband and I are really big travelers. We love to go abroad. We lived on the small island of Dominica for two years when he was in medical school; we backpacked around South East Asia; and we have been all over the United States. So anywhere I haven’t been is really interesting and fun for me.
What is the best part about Newtown? Ferris Acres. I love it when you are sitting there with your ice cream, looking out on the field with the rock wall. It reminds me of the Irish countryside, with the cows.
Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life? My mom and dad. They’re really selfless people — very humble — and I give them a lot of credit. When I was wanting to go to Russia — I traveled to St Petersburg to study for a semester my junior year — it was only two years after September 11, 2001. My dad’s a New York City firefighter, and so our family had obviously been affected. So just the fact that they were brave — they could have just as easily said, “We don’t want you to travel. It’s a very dangerous time.” But they said, “This is an opportunity. If you want to do it, go for it.” I’m really grateful for that. It opened up so many doors for me. They even came and visited me there, which meant the world.
If you could spend the day with one person, who would you choose and why? Condoleezza Rice. I think she is the personification of the American dream. I would love to sit down with her and talk about her perspective on being a diplomat as the Secretary of State and especially what she thinks about what is going on now in the world of politics.
Who is your favorite musical artist? I like to listen to Celtic instrumental music if I’m painting or writing, but if I’m driving around from Dickinson Park to Caraluzzi’s, I’m definitely listening to pop music — Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Meghan Trainor. The inner teenager comes out when I’m driving.
Do you have a favorite TV show? Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever been given? Follow your heart and trust your gut. I know it’s cliché, but I think it’s true from the smallest decision you make to the bigger life decisions. You need to think about what matters to you and what makes you happy.