Translational Engineer, Empathetic Educator, and College Student Empowerer
My name is Andrey Butenko, and I am a junior studying Informatics at the University of Washington in Seattle. In my time here, I have been very fortunate to have many opportunities to explore my strengths and to develop as a leader. This leadership portfolio captures some of the most impactful experiences I’ve had.
Although my core values are present in each of these experiences, there is also an implicit theme of risk-taking as I have explored different leadership experiences. Transitioning between these positions is challenging, but I believe that investing in many different roles during my time at the University of Washington has been valuable: these experiences have enabled me to develop my overall skill set and perspectives more holistically and effectively than if I was continuously invested in one.
There are five values that guide my work.
I am fortunate to have many important people in my life who show me kindness, and their support enables me to meet my goals. In every role I have – as a friend, as a teaching assistant, or as an adviser – I value kindness through providing encouragement, resources, and grace to others.
I view empowerment as understanding someone’s goals and reservations enough to support them in accomplishing their potential. The most rewarding work I do is helping others, which includes empowerment through connecting people to the right opportunity or talking through their goals or reservations.
Organization binds my core values together: it would be impossible to juggle life, classes, jobs, and leadership positions without it. Organization means planning ahead and developing systems that enable me to have control and direction.
Dependability means reliability. I prioritize being seen as a dependable resource so that I can enable others to do their best work. I achieve this by being timely in meeting the expectations of others and being proactive in addressing challenges.
I stretch myself to achieve positions that I don’t always feel qualified for in order to develop my strengths. Once I am comfortable, I push myself further to surpass expectation. Pursuing and fulfilling my personal ambitions is exciting and important to me.
My work at the University of Washington can be captured
through my leadership identities.
through my leadership identities.
Although software developers primarily work with code and computers, their work is ultimately to support the lives and the work of human beings. I was the sole developer on a team developing an educational video game. I see myself as a translational engineer: bridging the gap between non-technical teammates and a project that requires technical ability. I talked with my teammates from various backgrounds to understand their needs, and I designed and developed tools and a game engine that could enable them to build the game. I also taught my team the practical technical skills they needed, recognizing that they don’t need deep technical knowledge and only practical abilities. By being able to communicate with non-technical stakeholders, I could effectively support my team in meeting their objectives.
A screenshot of an article about National Park Adventure, a video game which I helped develop.
Me with four teammates for INFO 201, which is the class I was an instructor for between Spring 2018 and Autumn 2019.
As a Teaching Assistant for an introductory programming course, I proactively reached out to my students when they were quietly struggling in order to help them be successful in the course. Unfortunately, many students have challenging circumstances outside of school that affect their work, but early communication enabled them to do their best despite obstacles. I also developed affirmative relationships with students in the course to help them overcome imposter syndrome through developing my students’ confidence in their coding abilities. Demonstrating empathy enabled my students to feel successful and confident, which was the most rewarding part of my work as an educator.
College Student Empowerer
It has been important for me to encourage my group of mostly first-year students to take risks in my work as an adviser to a Hall Council. During the recruitment process, I invited residents who were applying for general membership – an open position – for a chat rather than an interview. Often, I found that these residents were interested in elevated leadership positions, but they didn’t feel comfortable applying for those roles. Through understanding their goals and reservations, I was able to encourage and empower them to be considered for specialized leadership positions. Throughout the year, I have continued to encourage my student leaders to challenge themselves in order to develop their abilities and confidence.
A photo of Haggett People's Council, the student leadership group I am advising in the 2019-20 school year.
Why I do what I do
My experiences have required different skills and perspectives, but there is a common thread of helping others that embodies my values of kindness, dependability, and empowerment.
Wherever I find myself, I seek to support others so that they can feel successful and do their best work. I find that contributing to the success of others is the most rewarding and impactful work I can do.
In my final year at the University of Washington, I aim to serve as an adviser to another student organization. With my new experiences and a clean slate, I believe that I could be even more effective in empowering student leaders to take risks and develop their strengths.
Beyond college, I aspire to apply my leadership skills and my core values to leading teams at tech companies in the Seattle area. I will also continue my work in education: in the next few years, that can manifest as volunteering to teach computer science to high schoolers or as providing mentorship to college students. Longer-term, I intend to teach college courses on technical subjects and empower students exploring the tech field.