By Michael Laff

Before Russia invaded her country last year, Maya Bondarenko said she was a carefree teenager in Kharkiv, Ukraine, who volunteered at the local pet shelter and made candles in her free time.

Since the war, she has distributed food to the elderly and volunteered for a nonprofit providing psychological assistance to adolescents. “Through this, I discovered a new strength and resilience within myself that the war couldn’t break,” she told ShareAmerica.

This August, Bondarenko will join four other students from Ukraine and begin studying at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. A new scholarship program will cover their costs over the next four years. Sam Rose, a Dickinson alumni whose grandfather was born in Kyiv, donated $2 million to fund the scholarships.

Across the United States, colleges and universities are doing their part to help students from Ukraine. Since the war began, more than 140 U.S. colleges and universities have helped 230 Ukrainian students continue their studies through the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) Emergency Student Fund for Ukraine, the nonprofit said.

University of New Haven, Connecticut

For Kateryna Fedirko, starting classes at the University of New Haven in Connecticut was part of a long journey.

She left her family in Odesa shortly after the February 2022 invasion and studied in Estonia as part of an exchange program until the term ended.

Now a sophomore studying international business, Fedirko is the first student to attend classes as part of the university’s new scholarship program for Ukrainian students. The program covers all tuition, living expenses and travel.

“I’m really happy,” she told NBC Connecticut. “People are so friendly, generous, helpful.”

University of Iowa

Oksana Hirchak, a student at the University of Iowa, is documenting Ukraine’s contemporary history. She collected stories from miners in her hometown and from participants in the 2014 Maidan Revolution, also known as the Revolution of Dignity. She plans to become a psychotherapist so she can work with people affected by war.

Hirchak is one of 20 Ukrainian students who received the Global Democracy Ambassador Scholarship from the Institute of International Education. Chef José Andrés, activist Garry Kasparov, businessman Daniel Lubetzky and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman supported creation of the scholarship.

“Even though there are still many things to learn about American culture, I do not feel like I am a foreigner in the United States,” Hirchak said.

West Virginia University

Mark Vodianyi, from Kyiv, is another IIE Democracy Ambassador scholarship recipient. Now attending West Virginia University, he plans to study criminal law and handle prosecutions of war crimes by soldiers against Ukrainians.

He wants to return to Ukraine to help rebuild the nation, saying he feels “professionally and morally obliged.” Vodianyi appreciates the charitable initiatives on campus to help Ukraine.

“I am just so grateful for this outpouring of support from (the university), the U.S., and other countries for Ukraine, it’s just incredible,” he said.

Banner image: Brown University in Rhode Island offered full scholarships to Hlib Burtsev and Oleksii Shebanov, right, both from Ukraine, in 2022. More than 140 U.S. colleges and universities have similar programs. (© Brian Snyder/Reuters)

The original article is here on ShareAmerica.