Six Ukrainian students recently joined Ivey on an exchange program made possible through the Academic Shelter Program, extending support to students fleeing the conflict in Ukraine.
Since their arrival, the students have been engaged in a variety of orientation activities to prepare them for the MBA program and receive credits for their home institutions. Ivey has waived the MBA tuition for them and is raising money through the Academic Shelter Fund to help with additional expenses.
The Academic Shelter Fund aims to raise $350,000 to support the Ukrainian exchange students and other students fleeing conflict in the future. It’s among a series of supports Western has put in place to help students and scholars displaced by Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine.
“Everybody is so kind. Everybody is trying to help Ukraine. It’s wonderful,” said Sofiia Shulga, a student from National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. “I have a Ukrainian flag and will be bringing it in because I want the professors to sign it. I’m really glad to be in Canada to work with these awesome professors. I read about some of them in advance and I’m excited to be in this program.”
Since their arrival, the students have participated in several activities, meeting with some of the Ivey faculty, and attending their first case class with David Wood, HBA’97, MBA’12, a lecturer of operations management whose first teaching experience was in Kyiv, Ukraine through the Ivey LEADER Project. The students also had a session with Western International, lunch with Ivey Dean Sharon Hodgson, and a social gathering with the MBA cohort.
“I was in Poland for the past couple of months and the Polish people were really friendly, but here (in Canada) it’s just a new level,” said Maksym Savchyn, also a student from National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, who was surprised by the welcome. “The opportunity is a surprise overall and you’re still surprising us every day.”
Savchyn, who has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and was in the process of completing a master’s degree in business development, said he had always planned to do an MBA so is glad to be introduced to the Ivey program while getting exchange credits.
“I’m still in shock a little bit. This is a huge opportunity and I’m so appreciative of it,” he said.
Ulyana Kulchytska has worked 20 years in human resources at companies such as Nestlé, METRO, and Ukrainian Catholic University. She was doing a master’s degree in human resource management at Lviv Business School when she learned of Ivey’s offer to get graduate-level business classes in the MBA program and allow her to continue her education. Even though it was difficult to leave her husband and children, who remain in Ukraine and Switzerland, respectively, Kulchytska’s goal is to return to Ukraine with the skills and expertise to help the country build a strong future.
“My goal is to learn a lot and help Ukraine rebuild after the war,” she said.
Seeking safety in Canada
Shulga, who was doing a master’s degree in marketing when the war in Ukraine began, is excited to continue her education, but is most grateful for the opportunity to be safe.
Her family lives with her boyfriend and his family in Kyiv, so each night she calls them to check on their safety. Her boyfriend’s father is a soldier so she is in a constant state of worry.
“Hopefully, I’ll always hear that everything is OK. It’s hard for me to understand that they’re in danger because of this aggression,” she said. “They’re so happy that I’m safe. My boyfriend said, ‘You’re so emotional. You need to be far away and be safe.’ I miss him and wish that he could visit me, but there is no opportunity for men to leave the country. I’m hoping he’ll get an opportunity to come here to study at university.”
It’s a similar predicament for Savchyn. While his mother is in Poland, his father and brother cannot leave Ukraine. Savchyn was able to do so because of an eye condition that makes him unfit for the army. His brother has applied to do his undergraduate degree at Western so he hopes they’ll one day be together again.
“My whole family is abroad and I miss them, especially my brother. He’s my best friend,” he said.
For now, the students are making the best of it and are eager to meet new friends in the MBA program. Each Ukrainian student will be paired with a buddy from the current MBA class for ongoing support. Although the current class is two months into the program, associate professor Adam Fremeth, HBA’00, faculty director of Ivey’s accelerated MBA and MBA programs, said it will be easy for them to catch up. The Ukrainian students will take pre-Ivey classes first and then transition into the full program in July.
“We want to help you finish your education and go back and rebuild Ukraine, but I hope this is the start of a relationship,” Fremeth told the students. “I think this is an important academic connection that we’re building between Ivey/Western and your schools and it’s something we can continue working on.”
Ivey aims to welcome more students to the program in the coming months. Through the Academic Shelter Program, Ivey is working with representatives at Lviv Business School and National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy to identify students in need, who are in masters-level programs in business, finance, marketing, technology or economics, and are a good fit for the MBA program. Eleven Ukrainian students will be offered the chance to come to Ivey on exchange. In addition to having the MBA tuition waived, the students will receive free learning materials, a stipend/scholarship to offset living costs, and free housing. Their accommodations are being provided by Property Corp. and Ivest Properties Ltd. thanks to the generous support of an Ivey alum.
In addition to Shulga, Savchyn and Kulchytska, the three other successful Ukrainian students joining Ivey are Alina Byshynska, Oksana Kosendiak and Anastasiia Nesterenko.
To learn more about these students visit Ivey’s website.
Donate to the Academic Shelter Fund.