Students affected by war in Ukraine find support, community at Georgetown

Two years after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Gracias Family Sunflower Current Use Scholarship is providing students who lived in Ukraine or have been displaced by the war with the resources they need to pursue their studies at Georgetown University. In 2022, Antonio Gracias (SFS’92, G’93, P’27) and Sabrina Kuhl Gracias (B’93, P’27) donated $5 million through the Gracias Family Foundation to establish the fund.

Since then, the scholarship has supported 14 Ukrainian students at Georgetown, providing financial resources to undergraduates in all schools who demonstrate need and merit-based scholarships to graduate students in the School of Foreign Service (SFS). The scholarship also offers emergency funds to cover room and board, course materials, living expenses, travel, visa expenses, and health insurance.

“I feel like it’s an immense honor and responsibility, just understanding how much help and support I’m receiving to be able to do something that so many people would love to do,” says Kyryl Myronenko (SFS’26), one of the four inaugural undergraduate recipients of the scholarship. “You see so many horrors, so many inhumane acts…But then you see there’s people who never saw you in real life, who never heard of you, and then they just give so much of their own resources and money to support you and just to [create] change and, to some extent, save our lives.”

Myronenko, whose parents sent him to the U.S. to get a college education after war broke out, has become a co-founder of the Georgetown University Ukrainian Society (GUUS) during his first two years at Georgetown. The group celebrates Ukrainian history, culture, and identity and hosts events for Georgetown community members interested in Ukraine—such as gatherings with the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. or events with embassies in Washington, DC. Myronenko has also joined consulting and investment clubs, played soccer with friends at Yates Field House, and interned at the office of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. “I’m just going to experience every possible thing” while at Georgetown, says Myronenko.

Pursuing new opportunities

Scholarship recipients also say they hope to apply what they’re learning at Georgetown to support post-war Ukraine.

“For me, this scholarship means first of all to utilize all the resources that I have now at Georgetown to help my country and to help overall make this world a better place as a person who will be working in the field of international affairs,” says Karyna Stepanovych (SFS’27), who is studying international economics while participating in the Georgetown Model United Nations club and Institute of Politics and Public Service (GU Politics). 

Ksenia Dubova (G’25) says her seven years working and volunteering in Croatia, Indonesia, Israel, and Ukraine and interest in development work motivated her to pursue a master’s in global human development. “I wanted to study and be a part of the SFS at Georgetown, being in DC and learning more about international relations but also from the development point of view,” she says. Dubova has had the opportunity to meet high-profile speakers on campus, such as Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska. “It’s just inspiring to see her,” says Dubova. “Seeing her in DC, it just feels closer to home.”

Myronenko, who is from Cherkasy, some 120 miles from Kyiv, says he hopes “people are just not going to forget about Ukraine. For [some] people it’s a piece of news, whereas for us it’s our life, our country, our everything.”

Read more about the recipients of the Gracias Family Sunflower Current Use Scholarship Fund. >

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