From Kazakhstan to NWF, Makarov sticks to it to achieve goal

May 5, 2016

Achieving any goal is a pretty big deal. It reflects hard work, perseverance, dedication and a great amount of “stick-to-it-iveness” no matter what the odds. When Stefan Makarov walks across the stage on May 7, along with other Northwest Florida State College graduates, his “stick-to-it-iveness” will show on his face.


Stefan came to Fort Walton Beach six years ago from his home in Kazakhstan, a country in the former Soviet Union. Along with his parents and six brothers and sisters, Stefan came to join others in his family who had come to the area previously. He had a very limited English vocabulary and didn’t know the customs of the United States, but he set out to make the most of his new life in his new country. It had taken his family two years to obtain all of the documentation needed for the move, which turned out to be a long one that crisscrossed the country before arriving in Fort Walton Beach.

The son of a pastor in the Russian Baptist Church, Stefan attended Rocky Bayou Christian School and spent extensive time outside of the academic world learning English, in addition to his regular high school courses. Upon his high school graduation, he enrolled at NWF State College, following in the footsteps of an older sister and brother.  

It was at NWF that he made a career-choice adjustment that has marked his path for the future. Originally his goal was to major in Business, but he enjoyed his science classes much more than he had expected and especially enjoyed those taught by Dr. Patrick MacArthur. Dr. MacArthur talked with him about a medical future, so the former Business major decided to make a sharp turn, take the first step and become an EMT Paramedic. He will receive that certification during graduation exercises this May. But that’s not the end of educational pursuits for Stefan. Upon completion of his AA degree this summer, he plans to attend the University of West Florida with the goal of becoming a Physician’s Assistant in Orthopedics.

While at NWF, Stefan has been active in the college’s Student Government Association, serving as both a Senator and as this year’s Vice President. He credits Sam Hill, Student Life, for fostering his service in the organization and helping him to evolve as an advocate for his fellow students. He recently attended Legislative Days in Tallahassee and joined other SGA representatives in speaking with members of the local legislative delegation concerning student loan forgiveness and other policies that affect students.

“NWF has prepared me well for the challenging career choices I face. Each department has done a good job in explaining the coursework, and I appreciate individual faculty members for working with and encouraging me,” says Stefan. In addition to Dr. MacArthur, he singles out Ronnie Stanley, Communications, and Mike Snyder, Public Safety, as well as local fire department employees, for making his college experience a memorable one.

Stefan is currently in the process of becoming an American citizen, and you can be sure that when he takes his Oath of Citizenship, his “stick-to-it-iveness” will again show all over his face.