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Ten months after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the University of New Haven created the Ukrainian Student Support Fund to assist Ukrainian students whose studies have been disrupted by the invasion. Over a year into the program, it has helped one student continue her studies, support she described as transformative. 

In January 2023, UNH welcomed the first student from Ukraine supported by the Ukrainian Student Support Fund. Kate Fedirko, who is from the city of Odesa in southern Ukraine, arrived at UNH as a transfer student and was awarded a scholarship supporting her tuition, fees and room and board for her five semesters at UNH. 

“My heartfelt gratitude extends to the University of New Haven community for granting me this invaluable opportunity,” Fedirko wrote in an email to the News. “Without it, the dream of pursuing higher education in the United States would have remained unattainable.”

Since arriving at UNH, she has become involved with the American Marketing Association Connecticut chapter and several on-campus organizations, such as the Marketing Club and Entrepreneurship Club. She wrote that she has also gotten the opportunity to network with industry professionals and serve the UNH community as a Transfer Peer Mentor.  

“The guidance of Ukrainian professors has been essential in navigating the intricacies of campus life and adapting to the American way of living,” Fedirko wrote. 

Currently, Fedirko is the only student from Ukraine to come to UNH with help from the Ukrainian Student Support Fund. In his announcement of the program, UNH Chancellor Steven Kaplan wrote that he hoped Fedirko would be the first of “several students” to matriculate from Ukraine.  

UNH is also home to a small group of students with Ukrainian roots, including a few who recently founded the school’s Ukrainian Club. 

“As we have a small [Ukrainian] population here at the University of New Haven, we as students try to meet at least once every month at the dining hall to talk about our time at the University, how our families are doing in Ukraine, and overall what we can do as students to better educate the student population at the University of New Haven,” Andrian Kadykalo, one of the founders of the Ukrainian Club, told the News. 

Fedirko also mentioned that she believes the Ukrainian Club is a great way for curious students to learn about Ukrainian culture.

Several members of the Ukrainian community at UNH said that they found the creation of the Ukrainian Student Support Fund to be meaningful.

“I’m very happy that UNH is wanting to expand their education outside of the U.S. by creating scholarships specially for students from Ukraine,” Nazar Kadykalo, another founder of the Ukrainian Club and Andrian’s brother, said. “Many students in Ukraine currently are no longer able to continue or start their education, as most universities are closed due to damages.” He described the scholarship program as “life-changing” for students in Ukraine. 

Despite the creation of the Student Support Fund, Fedirko and several members of the Ukrainian community at NH told the News that they still feel the University could be doing more to support Ukraine.

Andrian and Nazar Kadykalo both mentioned that at the beginning of the invasion, UNH held multiple talks about Ukrainian sovereignty, and many faculty members displayed Ukrainian flags around campus. Since then, they said that most of those talks and flags have disappeared from campus, much to their dismay.

Fedirko said she is hopeful that UNH will allocate more support for students like her to come from Ukraine to New Haven. 

“The scarcity of Ukrainian representation on campus weighs heavily on my heart, fostering a longing for greater inclusivity,” she wrote. “As one of the few Ukrainian students, I keenly feel the absence of Ukrainians here and recognize the untapped potential of bright minds back in Ukraine who yearn for similar opportunities.” 

As of Nov. 9, 2023, more than 3,790 educational facilities in Ukraine had been damaged or destroyed since Russia launched its full invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. 

Lily Belle Poling covers climate and the environment. Originally from Montgomery, Alabama, she is a first year in Branford College majoring in Global Affairs and English.