From nights in Kiev to lessons in Kant: featuring Anastasia Kershaw, ‘21


Bianca Abbate, Editor-in-Chief

In 22 short years, La Salle senior Anastasia Kershaw, or Nastya, as she is known around campus, has accomplished a lot: she’s spent summers in her childhood at a convent, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for charity and even endured the 2014 Ukrainian revolution. Through it all, her adaptability has enabled her to succeed in intricate environments time and time again.

Pictured above is Nastya off of I-95. (Courtesy of Anastasia Kershaw)

Kershaw is a biology and philosophy double major. Since the age of 7, she dreamt of being a doctor, hence the biology track. Her pursuit of philosophy was inspired by a general education course she took freshman year, in which she realized how applicable the content was to her day-to-day life. One philosophy professor who had an immense impact on Nastya as a student was philosophy professor Cornelia Tsakiridou: “It’s something about the way that she lectures or the readings she assigns, but she helped me incorporate this cool thing I’d learn in University into my everyday life. You read about life and then you live life.” Kershaw also admires that Tsakiridou is quick to hold students accountable: “She helped me step out of myself and observe my thoughts and biases. It made me a better thinker and a better human.” She particularly enjoyed a class on ethics and the death penalty with said professor. Kershaw is also the recipient of this year’s Department of Philosophy award, which is given to an exemplary student from the department each year.

La Salle wasn’t always on Kershaw’s radar. In fact, the graduating senior saw herself at a large school, particularly in Boston, just 4 short years ago. Her aunt and uncle, who met as Explorers, encouraged her to apply to the school, and after Kershaw received a good deal from the University, the rest was history. In her time at the University, Kershaw has held multiple jobs, played rugby and currently edits for the Collegian (something she always wanted to do). She has also conducted research with Chair of the Biology Department David Zuzga; the research entailed finding a biological marker to determine a relapse in colon cancer.

Pictured above are Nastya and her father. (Courtesy of Anastasia Kershaw)

Philadelphia is the beloved home of Kershaw, but the biology-philosophy double major has her roots in Kiev, Ukraine, where she was raised. The daughter of a Ukrainian mother and American father (who met at a bus stop in Kiev where her father was stationed), Kershaw is somewhat of a global citizen. She’s traveled to places like Italy, Qatar and Tanzania, leaving her mark across the globe. This is something Nastya talks a great deal about with her dad, being “rootless.” “It feels like I’m too Ukrainian to be American and too American to be Urkainian,” she tells me. Because Kershaw has always attended international schools and has American relatives, it throws many people off that Kershaw has no Ukrainian accent. Kershaw remarked that this common misconception is often a source of frustration for her.

Still, her Ukrainian roots are an important part of Kershaw’s identity. She recalls with great nostalgia her Ukrainian upbringing, of which her grandparents were a large part. She spent many summers of her childhood at a convent in the country with no electricity or running water where she would tend to cows (her favorite having been named “Fly”) and fetch water from wells. She also worked in a kitchen, ultimately inspiring her love of cooking. Kershaw keeps in touch with her Kiev roots by going to the Ukrainian markets in Northeast Philadelphia, chatting with Ukrainian family members, watching Ukrainian/Russian TV shows and enjoying Ukrainian memes on the internet. She also loves borscht, a staple Ukrainian soup made with beetroots. When asked what the secret was to a good borscht recipe, Kershaw quickly replied, “Have your grandmother make it.”

Nastya tells me her grandfather is a “big storyteller.” (Courtesy of Anastasia Kershaw)

Before coming to La Salle, Kershaw did spend most of her time in Kiev. However, Kershaw is quick to recall a 3-month stint in the suburbs of Pennsylvania back in 2014. 2014 was the year of the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine, which culminated in the ousting of the Ukrainian President and the overthrow of the Ukrainian government. As civil unrest unfolded throughout the region, Kershaw’s mother, then pregnant with one of Kershaw’s younger siblings, decided to take her children to the States. There, Kershaw experienced one of the greatest culture shocks of her life. A time when she truly had to channel her adaptability, the young teen entered Catholic school for the first time in the middle of the school year and faced unique challenges as a student. After 3 months, Kershaw returned to Ukraine. Though disruptive, that time period brought Kershaw closer to her grandmother.

The last semester of college has offered Kershaw a great deal of time to reflect on her past experiences. If there were one thing she could tell her younger self, it would be: “Just go for it.” She continues, “I’ve had weird phases of being timid in my life — they still come and go — I wish I could tell myself to just go for it. What’s the worst that can happen?” Now, she’s taking her own advice and running with it. Despite her childhood dream of becoming a doctor, Kershaw no longer feels tethered to this goal. “I kind of want to do everything,” says the senior, who is currently pursuing other career options. Big things are to come for Anastasia Kershaw.

When she isn’t engaged in her studies, cooking her signature soy ginger salmon for her roommates or jogging through the City of Brotherly Love, Kershaw is serving tables and tending the bar at an upscale joint in Olde City called Marmont Steakhouse. For readers over the age of 21, Kershaw recommends trying Marmont’s Market Street Wino cocktail.

There are many simple pleasures Kershaw misses from a pre-Covid world, but one of the greatest is the ability to go home and see her Ukrainian family. The global citizen is staying strong, however. She lives by the mantra frequently embraced by her grandmother: “This too shall pass.”

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