Olia Prokopenko was born in the former Soviet Union and grew up bilingual: her native languages are Russian and Ukrainian. She received her degrees in English and French at the Karazin National University (Kharkov), graduating twice with distinction. She taught at the Skovoroda Pedagogical University (Kharkov, Ukraine) as a senior lecturer while at the same time working on her dissertation in comparative linguistics.
In 1994 Olia was invited to teach Russian at Lafayette College (Easton, PA). She fell in love with the college, its faculty, students, basketball team and fabulous collection of books on Russian and world literature. Having gotten a taste of Western literary criticism she decided to expand her knowledge and understanding of literature by adding an American perspective to the one she acquired in her home country. With that in mind, she completed the doctoral program at the Slavic and East European Languages and Literatures at the Ohio State University. She also studied Polish language and literature at the Jagiellonian University Summer School of Polish Language where she received two awards for academic excellence.
Before Olia came to Temple University she taught languages, literatures and culture at the OSU (Columbus, Ohio). Since 2005, she is part of the FGIS, and since 2009 she has served as the Russian Program Advisor. As part of the ACTR Flagship Program, she taught Pre-Professional Russian at Bryn Mawr College, as well as advanced Russian courses at Russian Language Institute where she also served as Academic Coordinator. She also taught at Middlebury School of Russian and at University of Pennsylvania.
Olia's current research interests include literature and culture of Eastern and Central Europe (Russian, Ukrainian, Polish), especially late 20th c. and post-Soviet literature and women's writing. In addition, she published an article on the 18th c. literature, as well as translations from Russian and Ukrainian into English. She gets her energy and inspiration from everything beautiful: people, literature, music, arts, nature, but first and foremost, from her current and former students whose talents and achievements make her very proud.