SMWC faculty member receives state award for volunteerism

November 23rd, 2016 | SMWC

Natalia Rekhter, director of MHA at SMWC delivers a brief speech after receiving Serve Indiana's Awards for Excellence for volunteerism on Nov. 10 at the Indiana State House in Indianapolis. Elspeth O’Neil, assistant director of Serve Indiana, looks on.

By Dianne Frances D. Powell

In recognition of her “outstanding” service to fellow Hoosiers, Natalia Rekhter, director of Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), received an award for volunteerism from the state of Indiana’s volunteer service agency, Serve Indiana.

She was among eight individuals and organizations who were given Serve Indiana’s prestigious Awards for Excellence during an early evening ceremony at the Indiana State House on Nov. 10. “It’s a fantastic feeling to be recognized for the labor of love,” said Rekhter, a Carmel resident.

Rekhter, a native of Russia, has been working to improve the lives of members of the Russian community in Indiana. She embodies SMWC’s commitment to social responsibility and diversity.

“Natalia Rekhter has transformed the Russian School of Indiana, which leverages the world-renowned talents of local Slavic residents, over the last 13 years into a multicultural center,” Serve Indiana said on its website.

“She has volunteered 13,000 plus hours, serving 150 current students and 500 alumni. Her efforts helped increase the school’s enrollment from 24 to 150 students and has had 100% college placement for over 200 alumni who were the first in their family to attend college.

“Her efforts also resulted in raising $300,000+ from donations, grants, and an annual Russian festival.”

Rekhter moved to the U.S. in 1991 and then to Indiana in 2003. Upon arrival to the Indianapolis area, she started volunteering for the Russian School in an effort to stay connected with her native culture and language. But it did not take long before she saw that many of her fellow immigrants had unmet needs, so she sought a way to help.

She started volunteering at the school as a teacher, then became involved in public relations. Her efforts were key in creating what is now the Russian-American Culture and Education Center and School, based in Carmel, which provides assistance to immigrants, promotes interest in Russian language and culture and offers Russian language classes, among other services.

Rekhter — who brought 16 years of teaching experience upon joining SMWC last year — is passionate about education. She is a strong believer in its power to improve lives.
“Education is a social lift,” she tells immigrants she meets. She emphasizes the value of education for their family’s future.

Rekhter shares this passion for education and commitment to diverse experiences with her students in the MHA program. She said she is accompanying some of the students to Russia in the spring. “It’s very fulfilling,” she said of her work.


Photo courtesy Serve Indiana.

Download high resolution image ( - 2,564.84 KB)