Stetson Renews Fundraising to Allow Four Ukrainian Students to Remain Another Year

photo of four Ukrainian students.
Picture of the four Ukrainian students.
Ukrainian students Genevia Gayden, Yana Verbova, Veronika Shchur and Yuliia Balan wear colorful vyshyvankas (traditional Ukrainian embroidered blouses) to show their native pride. The four students say they worry every day about their loved ones back home.

As the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches, Stetson University is renewing its commitment to four students from the war-torn country and starting another fundraising drive to allow them to remain enrolled for another year. 

Ukrainian students Yuliia Balan, Genevia Gayden, Veronika Shchur and Yana Verbova arrived last summer for the 2022-2023 academic year and share an apartment together on campus.

Last fall, the four students expressed a desire to stay at Stetson, as the war rages on back home. Since then, Stetson’s faculty and administration have been figuring out a way to help them stay.

Elizabeth Plantan, PhD

“They are grateful that we are renewing our fundraising effort and that we are planning a series of events both to fundraise and to raise awareness of Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine,” explained Elizabeth Plantan, PhD, an assistant professor of Political Science at Stetson. Plantan said the entire Stetson community has worked tirelessly to promote and foster the Ukraine Initiative since it began shortly after Russia invaded the country Feb. 24, 2022. 

Stetson has set a goal of $100,000 for the fundraising initiative. The rest of the cost of attendance will be covered by the university. 

Two of the students are expected to graduate from Stetson in 2024. A third student is waiting to find out how many of her credits will transfer to Stetson. The fourth is a first-year student who would graduate from Stetson in 2026. 

“For Stetson, having these students earn degrees from our institution is an incredible achievement. They already bring so much to our campus community and are enriching the lives of all those they meet,” said Plantan. 

“They will also solidify our ties to Ukraine as these students plan to go back to rebuild Ukraine when the war is over. … We are incredibly lucky to be a part of these students’ education and it demonstrates our commitment as an institution to global citizenship,” she said.

Montage of photos that appear on the 
Stetson Supports Ukraine website.
For more information, please visit the Stetson Supports Ukraine website.

In addition to fundraising, Stetson’s Ukraine Initiative and Stetson’s Program for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (SPREES) will host a Ukraine Event Series. The events are free and open to the public. Cultural Credit will be available.

poster for Jan. 25 Ukraine event

• “Russia’s War against Ukraine & International Law: Justice, Responsibility, Security” on Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 12-1 p.m. on Zoom 

Ilona Khmeleva, PhD, an expert in international law, will speak live from Ukraine about her research on the international legal implications of Russia’s war against Ukraine. The event will be moderated by Jason Palmer, JD, a Stetson Law professor with experience in adjudicating international mass claims. Registration for the Zoom webinar is required at

• “Stetson Remembers: One Year after Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine” on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. in the Rinker Welcome Center

This event features Ukrainian students and faculty, who came to Stetson during the 2022-2023 academic year as a part of the Ukraine Initiative, as they reflect on one year since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. There will be a formal presentation followed by ample time for Q&A and discussion. Light refreshments will be served. 

• “Defying Terror: Ukrainian Women’s Agency in the Soviet Gulag and Russia’s War” on Thursday, March 9, at 6 p.m. in the Stetson Room in the Carlton Union Building

Oksana Kis, PhD, an expert on Ukrainian women’s history, will give a lecture on her research on Ukrainian women in the Soviet Gulag and draw connections from that research to Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. This event coincides with International Women’s Day (which is March 8).

For more information, please visit the Stetson Supports Ukraine website.

-Stetson University