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Women in Engineering: Anita Khannikova

April 5, 2012

Women in Engineering: Anita Khannikova
UW College of Engineering & Applied Science
by: Jonathan S Barrett

Anita Khannikova grew up in Stepnogorsk, Kazakhstan.  With a low supply of universities, few in her hometown receive the opportunity of attending an institution of higher learning.  Kazakhstan represents over 120 different nationalities and is the 9th largest country in the world.  It declared itself an independent country in 1991 and was the last Soviet Republic to do so.  Kazakhstan has had only one president since its declaration of independence, Nursultan Nazarbayev.  The two languages spoken in the country are Russian and Kazak.  

It was Anita's childhood dream to study in the United States of America.  This dream came true her when she was offered an exchange program through the Council for Educational Travel, USA (CETUSA), and moved to Elizabeth, CO to complete her high school education.  This was a major transition from her hometown with a population of 70,000 to the small town of Elizabeth, yet she knew that this was a step she needed to make.  At 16 years old, she approached her parents about making the move to the United States and they were 100% supportive.  She knew that she had nothing to be afraid of, had to be willing to stand up for herself and to be open to new experiences.  When traveling to foreign countries it is imperative that one is willing to stand outside of themselves and embrace a new spectrum of possibilities.  Prior to her arrival in the United States, Anita was exposed to an extensive language program that has given her fluency in Kazak, Russian and English. 

After finishing high school she was accepted to numerous colleges but was drawn to the University of Wyoming because of the people and the atmosphere inherent with the town of Laramie.  Her father, a long-time member of the auto industry played an integral role in helping Anita in the decision making process of what it was she specifically wanted to do.  Initially drawn to economics and diplomacy, she made the decision to major in chemical and petroleum engineering.   

Now in her second year with College of Engineering and Applied Science, Anita is looking forward to summer where she has been an offered an internship with an American company in her home country of Kazakhastan.  She has always been inclined towards working out in the field as it gives her the hands on experience she seeks, and allows her to experience first-hand how processes develop from concept to reality. 


Anita is currently a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the Society of Women Engineers and is also Resident Advisor for the international dormitory floor.  This has given her the opportunity to have a direct impact on the lives of incoming freshman with home countries ranging from China, Japan, the Netherlands, Brazil, Korea and Saudi Arabia.  She is also active in the Freshman Interest Group (FIG) that helps incoming freshman in their transition into college life.  Upon graduation she intends to pursue a Masters of Business Administration and a Masters of Petroleum Engineering.

Outside of academia, Anita is heavily involved in the outdoors and sports.  Growing up as a competitive ballroom dancer, she now focuses her energy on dirt biking, climbing, snowboarding and shooting.    

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