Writing and Russian: Sasha Balasanov on the Colgate Experience


When Sasha Balasanov began her first year at Colgate in 2017, she never anticipated graduating a semester early. Since graduating in December 2020, Balasanov has been working virtually from her off-campus apartment in Hamilton. 

While spending only seven semesters enrolled in courses was a surprise, Balasanov said that her academic pursuits wound up as she expected after her first year. 

I am an economics [concentrator] with a Russian and Eurasian studies minor. I chose my Russian minor because my family is from Russia, and I wanted to keep building on my connection to my heritage while at school and far away from my family,” Balasanov said. “The program helped me continue to practice my Russian — which was helpful as I am not speaking it as often at school — and taught me a lot of valuable information about the history and culture of Russia and Eurasia I didn’t know about before. I chose to be an economics [concentrator] after taking Introduction to Economics my freshman year. This class really opened my eyes to the application of mathematics and logic in the real world and in a very valuable way, and that was something that I had unknowingly been looking for as someone who liked math but wasn’t sure what to do with it in a broader context.”

Beyond the classroom, Balasanov has been involved in a number of extracurriculars throughout her time at Colgate, including Colgate Women in Business, Finance Club, Kappa Kappa Gamma as sustainability chair and president and The Maroon-News as a writer for the Arts & Features section. 

“I think writing for The Maroon-News had a very profound impact on my Colgate experience,” Balasanov said. “I was always assigned to cover events that I might not have been aware of on my own and therefore gained exposure to many communities and people that were new to me. It really helped me broaden my understanding of what kinds of values and communities Colgate is made up of beyond my own. I am going to miss that experience a lot, but will absolutely miss my other extracurriculars just as much because they all contributed to my Colgate experience and helped me grow so much over the past four years.”

Originally from Evanston, Ill., Balasanov found herself in upstate New York “very randomly.” 

“A friend of mine [was] looking at similar schools… and I assumed that if she liked this East Coast liberal arts school then I would too,” Balasanov said. “I visited [Colgate] after getting in and immediately loved the campus and noticed the kindness and welcoming nature of the people I met. I could tell that everyone I met had a strong connection to this place and ultimately that experience made my decision easy.”

In thinking about what she will miss most about Colgate, Balasanov suggested that not being in close proximity to her friends will be an adjustment.

“I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing people and build relationships that I will never forget and I am going to miss not being able to wander over to a friend’s dorm room at all hours of the day to just chat and hang out,” she said. 

At the end of this semester, Balasanov will trade her Hamilton apartment for a residence in New York City as she joins the electronic forex sales team at Barclays.