Alumna cherishes UH diversity for aiding paths to success
Embracing diversity and differences of opinion was not something that Soviets were accustomed to doing during the Cold War.
Before the Berlin Wall fell and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev resigned in Dec. 1991, the idea of a free market and a capitalist state was almost unheard of to most Russians.
“A lot of those words didn’t even exist in the Russian language at the time,” said Ludmila Golovine, founder and CEO of MasterWord Services, Inc, and graduate of the C.T. Bauer College of Business’ first entrepreneurship class.
Golovine was born and raised in the Soviet Union and made her way to the United States in 1989 at age 19, three years before the fall of the USSR. She said she had always wanted to study international business.
“I was very interested in stock markets and I had full intentions of continuing my career that way, but the entrepreneurship program changed my life,” she said.
Golovine said that the diversity of the University inspired her to start her multi-million dollar language services company. Today, she has established the MasterWord Services Endowed Scholarship that she said will help “pay it forward” to not only international students but to domestic students as well.
“We’re all from somewhere else and I think that’s the strength,” she said. “Our multiculturalism and our diversity is our strength of Houston and the University of Houston in particular. Houston is also one of the cities in the U.S. that is doing the best economically, and (that’s) because of how diverse we are and how we embrace each other’s opinions.”
For Golovine, having an opinion to express was an honor and never something she took for granted when she lived in the Soviet Union. Her family allowed her to express herself freely, she said.
“My parents were different,” she said. “They were very supportive of free thinking. I grew up with the idea that the right to be able (to) think free and to express your opinion was a privilege.
However, she said people in the U.S. often don’t recognize that freedom.
“One time, I was talking to someone from Russia and said, ‘Wow, the president has the lowest ranking in the history of this country,’” Golovine said. “And the person said, ‘You’re so lucky to be living in a country where the president has the lowest ranking in the history of your country, because if you have a 100% approval rating, you’d find yourself in North Korea.'”
“That made me really stop and think about how grateful I am to live in this country and what an opportunity it is to be able to express my opinion,” she said.
The MasterWord Services Endowed Scholarship is open to students at the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship who are in financial need.
Golovine said she hopes that she inspires students to “open their minds” to learn a different language and culture. She said that UH is the best place to do that.
“I really truly believe that the University of Houston is one of the best universities in the United States,” said Golovine. “That’s because of how diverse we are, how well we embrace each other, and how well we really function as a mini world.”