Ukrainian student leader to be honored at York graduation ceremony

Posted on July 15, 2022

A Ukrainian university student leader who set up a series of virtual networks so students could stay connected during the war is to be honored by the University of York.

Vitalina Schevchenko will be in York to receive her award

Vitalina Shevchenko, student rector at Karazin Kharkiv National University, will receive the “Master of the University” as part of the University of York graduation ceremonies which will take place from Monday, July 18.

Vitalina is one of eight individuals from the worlds of media, business, politics and academia to have received honorary degrees from the University.

Vitalina, along with many of her peers, was forced to flee as her university came under heavy bombardment during the war.

Virtual networks

Forced to move to Spain, Vitalina was determined that her peers wouldn’t miss out on their education and set out to create a series of virtual networks so students could stay connected.

Her network enabled her university to identify students who needed emergency housing and other forms of support.

The fourth-year BA in International Economics student continues to use these networks to verify student safety, keep them connected to their education, and enable them to share experiences.

Vitalina is also a European Youth Ambassador, working to help raise awareness of EU cooperation with its Eastern partner countries, and is also involved in civic activism.

York University invited Vitalina to come to York to join her ceremony and the celebrations in person.

hard times

Vitalina, who represents around 20,000 students at Kharkiv University, said: “I am delighted to be here in York to receive this honor in person and to meet so many people who have supported me and my fellow students. .

“This recognition is not only for me, but for all young Ukrainians who face dramatic problems, but who nevertheless wish to continue their educational journey and never stop learning.

“These are extremely difficult times, but it is heartwarming to have these moments of celebration and to connect with students, who may not be going through such a crisis, but who nevertheless share the same ambitions as Ukrainian students – learn as much as possible to be able to contribute not only to their own prosperous future, but also to the development of their country.

Twinning Initiative

Last month, York University signed a partnership agreement with Karazin Kharkiv National University.

The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two institutions will lead to a number of initiatives, including staff scholarships, support to Kharkiv in the management of its cultural heritage, summer schools and short courses and links between student unions.

UK universities are twinned with Ukrainian institutions in a twinning initiative to offer support to scholars, students and university leaders during the conflict.

Access to learning

University of York Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Saul Tendler said: “Vitalina has been so remarkable in the way she has brought people together in times of crisis and remained honest, yet optimistic, as she rallied her comrades when all seemed lost.

“Her actions during this time have been inspiring and she has been unwavering in her goal to rebuild and continue to provide access to learning for Ukrainian students.

“We honor her for her bravery and determination and thank her for the time and wisdom she has shared with York students and the wider community.”

Honorary diplomas

Vitalina will receive her honorary degree at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19, 2022 during a week of graduation ceremonies at York University.

Also among those receiving honorary degrees this week are: former Screen Yorkshire CEO Sally Joynson; former British actor and politician, Lord Michael Cashman; host and journalist Zeinab Badawi; world renowned psychiatrist, Professor Vikram Patel; media entrepreneur and publicist, Sebastian Turner; Opera North CEO and Trustee Richard Mantle; and Professor of Economics at Imperial College Business School, Dame Carol Propper.

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