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From Russia ... with love for Binghamton

Sera McManus’ decision to attend Binghamton University came after learning about something that is usually a footnote on the campus tour.

“As soon as the (guide) said there is a bowling alley on campus, I was like ‘All right, I’m coming here,’” McManus said.

The 19-year-old also has an appreciation for the little things on campus, such as the food court, the gyms, the dining halls and Off Campus College Transit. It’s understandable, as McManus spent part of her childhood in a Russian orphanage in Smolensk, 240 miles east of Moscow.

She was adopted from the orphanage in August 2000 by a Painted Post family and is the oldest of four adopted children (three from Russia and one from China).

“When we pulled into the driveway, I said in my Russian, ‘How many families live in this house?’ I thought it was so big,” she said.

McManus started school three months later, lost her Russian language skills, but graduated from high school early and enrolled at LeMoyne College. After a short time there, McManus decided to attend a bigger school. Binghamton, where her father, Kevin, earned his MBA in 1981, fit the bill.

“I have a big personality,” the junior political science major joked. “I need a nice, large-sized campus.”

McManus had a busy first semester at Binghamton. She worked for Telefund, encouraging alumni and parents to donate to the University; interned at Hinman, Howard and Kattell in Binghamton; and took a Russian language class in hopes of regaining lost speaking skills.

Nancy Tittler, senior lecturer in German and Russian Studies, called McManus one of the best students she has taught and praised McManus’ “eureka” spirit.

“She certainly has brought a unique perspective to the language-learning classroom,” Tittler said. “The task of re-learning a language that she knew throughout her early childhood was taken with great humor and she often brought her own discoveries to class.

“She’s a source of great enthusiasm that is just infectious.”

McManus, who will take part in next month’s Student Leadership Conference and aspires to become a resident assistant, said she is impressed by the campus diversity.

“You get to acclimate yourself to so many cultures,” she said. “I’m friends with so many Turkish students. It’s nice to see other people’s perspectives. The campus is so accepting.”

McManus plans to graduate in spring 2011 and attend law school. She is considering practicing general law in the Carolinas, but has not ruled out joining the Peace Corps.

“I love travel and I love diversity,” she said. “It helps you develop if you go outside your own world and see someone else’s world.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08