It’s one thing to be well traveled, it’s another to grow up “everywhere.” But that’s the life story of Nadia Farley, Sioux of 2020, volleyball star and Ursuline Ambassador.
Born in Pskov, Russia and adopted at age 4 by American parents, Michael and Dana Farley, Nadia spent a large swath of time overseas in Melbourne, Australia where her father was transferred. While there, she and her family vacationed all through Australia as well as New Zealand, Vietnam, and Singapore -- visiting her mom’s hometown of
New Orleans whenever possible to see family.
By the time the family returned to the U.S. and settled in the suburbs of Houston, Nadia was a world traveler. But about two years ago, a homesick Dana decided it was time to come home to New Orleans. Her husband was soon retiring and Nadia was then high
school age. The timing was just right. “It’s been a lovely homecoming,” said Nadia, 17.”
I grew up everywhere and having family here all the time is so amazing. All my uncles, aunts and cousins, the people who had a big impact on my life, were here. And it was getting harder to say goodbye.”
Nadia and her mom returned to New Orleans at the start of her freshman year, while her father finished his last year-and-a-half in Texas. She quickly found herself the bearer of a new legacy – one tied to Ursuline Academy. First, she realized that her mother’s family had a long tradition with the school. She has had aunts and great-aunts graduate from Ursuline, and a few cousins, too.
Next year, Nadia will use her great-aunt’s graduation ring from the Class of 1938. And then there is her school family. Her teammates on the Lions volleyball team became instant anchors. She found a best friend. She maneuvered these new social circles with confidence, because she saw “everyone tries to make sure no girls are left out.”
“I love the Ursuline volleyball team,” Nadia said. “It really brought me into the school family very quickly, and we have a bond. When I walk into the building now, I don’t feel like it’s school. I have friends. I have fun. I’m with my family.”
Her mother knew Ursuline was right for Nadia. “It was so important for me to have her put down roots in New Orleans. These are important years and what better place than Ursuline with almost 300 years of Catholic tradition. And I think she feels this now is home.”
Nadia, now a junior, has seen success on the court. But with her global perspective,
she’s given a lot back, too, to a school that is already part of a much bigger network.
Ursuline schools are all over the United States, and carry the same service mission. For example, Nadia was part of a group of Ursuline girls who went to Ecuador this summer to build a school as part of the Beyond Our Borders Immersion Program. The dozen or so students helped in everything from making bricks to building the school’s walls.
The annual program sends a dozen or so students to live the Ursuline motto of Serviam in a community abroad that desperately needs assistance. Ursuline girls have
built schools, taught others, and generally devote their time in service of others.
“I felt very comfortable going away. It was easy for me to integrate into the daily culture of the village and learn some of the different dialects,” Nadia said. She also learned first-hand, that “education hasn’t reached a lot of young people worldwide. As Americans, we have responsibility and the opportunity to make a difference,
especially with young women. We have a global reach that goes miles and miles. As Ursuline girls, we can be beacons and make a difference.”
Special thanks to Alina Hernandez, mother of Isabel Lambiet, Merry Mac
of 2024, for her work on this article.