YES Programs



June YES Virtual Student Spotlight: Sandra Tashkova

Sandra Tashkova Gysd Photo 3

Top photo: Sandra (second from left) with fellow Girl Up members and U.S. Ambassador to North Macedonia Kate Marie Byrnes (far right).

Sandra Tashkova (YES 2020-2021, North Macedonia, virtually placed by World Link in Reedley, CA) is a passionate leader who embraces every opportunity to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. Sandra was thrilled when she learned that her virtual host mom Michelle, who works with first responders, organized a tour for her with local paramedics. Fire Captain and paramedic Ashley Greco gave Sandra a tour of the City of Dinuba Fire Station. The tour was a perfect introduction to the field for Sandra, who is taking a paramedic course this summer. Sandra was eager to learn about Ashley’s life and career, and Ashley was happy to be able to encourage Sandra to pursue her dream.

As a dedicated Red Cross volunteer, Sandra is helping medical workers in the COVID-19 vaccination process by registering patients. She delivers medications and groceries to those in need and gives educational workshops on hygiene. Her Red Cross chapter was awarded a virtual meeting with the president of North Macedonia for its dedication to helping the community.

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Sandra passing out donations as a Red Cross volunteer.

In addition to their medical field connection, Sandra and Michelle spend quality time cooking together. Sandra showed Michelle how to make the traditional Macedonian dish moussaka; Michelle taught Sandra and her natural family how to make rice pilaf; and together, virtually, they made the traditional dessert “alva.”

Michelle, also thrilled to be Sandra’s host mom, says, “Getting to know Sandra these last several months has been an extreme pleasure. I love our time spent on video calls, cooking together, or just talking. I am proud to call her my daughter!”

And, there are many reasons for her to be proud of Sandra. In 2019, Sandra founded a chapter of the U.N. movement Girl Up in Shtip, North Macedonia, to empower girls to be leaders. She has planned workshops on gender equality, environmentalism, and science and organized science fairs, art projects, movie nights, and fundraising events, conducting most of these activities in partnership with her local American Corner, whose staff say she is the best collaborator they could wish for.

She used new skills she gained during a World Link public speaking workshop to garner support from local organizations for her Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) anti-littering project. In April, she orchestrated a clean-up event attended by U.S. Ambassador to North Macedonia Kate Marie Byrnes, and a mask donation event that included education on proper disposal.  

Michelle wrote, “She is one of the most driven and respected teenagers that I have ever met. Her passion for medicine and level of involvement in her community just amazes me!”