Turning the Page, Together

Five Questions With Polina Shishkina MSN ’20

by Jady Ojiri, Office of Development Communications

Less than a year ago, USF officially launched its first virtual Alumni Book Club, an opportunity for graduates to engage, connect, and learn from beyond the classroom space.

So far, members have read books like The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett and The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Most recently, they’ve begun The Leavers by Lisa Ko. Through an online platform called Professional Book Club (PBC) Guru, alumni have interacted through private online forums and discussed a range of thought-provoking topics related to each of these books. 

The program brings together USF alumni from across the globe and encourages them to share their insights and perspectives. Polina Shishkina MSN ’20 is one of the book club’s active members. 

What does “Changing the World From Here” mean to you? 

"Changing the World From Here" means finding the most compassionate and authentic place in your heart and using that as inspiration to act alongside people who share your values and goals. 

What inspired you to join the Alumni Book Club? 

I joined the Alumni Book Club because I love to read and reflect. I also enjoy sharing this unique, imaginative experience with other USF alumni.

What do you enjoy most about participating in the Alumni Book Club? 


Polina Shishkina MSN ’20
Polina Shishkina MSN ’20

I enjoy analyzing the plot and actions of the main characters, and I especially like seeing everyone’s perspectives during the pre-reading and end-of-book discussion boards. For example, one of the forums asked if we had ever contemplated what would have happened if we had made a different life decision. This prompted me to conduct a mini life review and consider different scenarios and outcomes had I made a different choice along the way. When I saw the responses from other members, it opened my eyes to the things that matter most in each of our lives. These varying points of view and interpretations truly deepen our understanding of the stories and the people around us.

I think that others should join the Alumni Book Club to reignite their passion for reading, which nourishes the mind and spirit during both stressful and joyful times, and to continue being involved in the USF community.

Is there someone, such as a professor, peer, coach, or advisor, that had a substantial impact on your college experience? How? 

My professor and advisor, Dr. Catherine Coleman, was a source of light and direction as I completed my Masters degree in Nursing at USF and took my first steps into the professional world. For me, she exemplifies caritas, a Latin term meaning charity and love for all, through her resilience, connection to the university, and commitment to the nursing profession.

What is a piece of advice you can give to current Dons?

Hold your ideals close to your heart and cherish your experiences with others. Our lives and work are deeply interconnected — at times in surprising ways. Don't let misconceptions or preconceived expectations prevent you from reaching out to those around you. 

I aspire to use my own advice and to develop stronger connections with others. In the book club, our personal experiences and feelings influence how we read each of the books. When I express my thoughts in discussions, I get to engage with people who have led much different lives from my own. That’s why opportunities like these are so important and rewarding. 

Connect with alumni like Shishkina and join the Alumni Book Club today. To further enhance programming initiatives like this, consider making a gift in support of Changing the World From Here: Campaign for the University of San Francisco