The Georgetown University School of Foreign Service (SFS) welcomed its first cohort of four undergraduate students from Ukraine who are currently studying at Georgetown through a scholarship from the Gracias Family Foundation.
Georgetown graduates Antonio Gracias (SFS ’92, GRD ’93) and Sabrina Kuhl Gracias (GSB ’93) donated $5 million to the university, announced June 8, to establish the Gracias Family Sunflower Current Use Scholarship Fund. The fund will provide support for students who reside in or have been displaced by the ongoing war in Ukraine. Undergraduate students in all Georgetown schools who demonstrate financial need will be eligible to receive scholarships, as well as graduate students in the SFS who can receive merit-based scholarships.
In addition to covering tuition and fees, the fund also provides students with emergency funds to pay for course materials, travel expenses, health insurance, room and board, living expenses and visa expenses.
The fund will allow the SFS to continue its founding mission of understanding and preventing future international conflict, according to the university press release.
The first cohort of undergraduate students, Olha Kovach (SFS ’26), Kyryl Myronenko (SFS ’26), Oleksandr Sinhayivskyy (SFS ’26) and Tetiana Tkachenko (SFS ’26) arrived at Georgetown for the Fall 2022 semester.
Myronenko said he has enjoyed his first few weeks at Georgetown and has already been able to follow his academic interests.
“My experience in Georgetown so far is that I knew it would be good, but I didn’t know it would be that good,” Myronenko said to The Hoya. “I like all my classes so far, and people are so nice. And it’s a really good place to be in, especially for someone as interested in politics and as impacted by politics as well as more specifically the politics about the war.”
Kovach is in a proseminar, a required class for all SFS first-year students, on “Forced Displacement” with Rochelle Davis, an associate professor in the Center for Contemporary Studies in the SFS. Kovach said she has found that the SFS serves a unique purpose in bringing students together from a multitude of backgrounds to have productive discussions on issues such as war displacement, and allows her to explore the topic further.
“It’s really interesting to talk to others and hear about their backgrounds, and especially during the classes when we have an opportunity to discuss things,” Kovach said in an interview with The Hoya. “Even though we can talk about specific topics, everyone can impact the conversation with their backgrounds. It’s really interesting to me.”
Sinhayivskyy has enjoyed meeting other first-year students and learning from those in the Georgetown community.
“The really nice part is that everyone is so smart here,” Sinhayivskyy said in an interview with The Hoya. “I’m sure there are people that are scared of that. I was at first. This occurred to me, though, when I had my first late night discussion in the dorm room. We just gathered some people from the hall and we talked about everything, from Harry Potter books to politics. It’s just really nice to get an insight from the people who know so much. And this is just the first two weeks.”
SFS Dean Joel Hellman is honored to bring these students to the university and is proud of the way they are being supported by the Georgetown community.
“To see how the entire Georgetown community has mobilized to support students confronting the horrible war in Ukraine is to see the true spirit of Georgetown,” Hellman wrote to The Hoya. “These students bring to our campus a first hand understanding of the devastating realities of conflict and a deep appreciation for the essential value of freedom in global affairs. We could not be more pleased and proud to welcome them to our community.”
According to Myronenko, the Georgetown community is special because it brings students from all over the world together in the pursuit of friendship and understanding.
“I’ve been trying to make this quote in my mind about Georgetown, how it serves as a place where people from all over the place, from all over the world, can feel at home,” Myronenko said. “Everyone here can be themselves. Everyone can just bring their own personalities. And it’s so good that it’s mainly not about the U.S. or any particular country. It’s mainly about the world, the world we’re living in.”
Myronenko said he is grateful to be in a place where learning is nurtured, and students are free to express their opinions and share their understanding of the world.
“This is an amazing place for us because you can seek knowledge basically everywhere, because everyone has different perspectives and different understandings, knowledge and wisdom,” Myronenko said. “I’m so happy to be here and so grateful.”