Fund created to support Ukrainian students in Alaska, attending UAA
Community philanthropy to support Ukrainian students resettled in Alaska, attending UAA
The University of Alaska Foundation announced the creation of the Ukrainian Student Support fund Aug. 1, 2022. Through private donations, the fund will provide financial assistance for tuition and related expenses to college students from Ukraine who demonstrate financial need and plan to attend the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), including any of its community campuses or colleges.
The fund was established by long-time UAA supporter, Jim Bowers, who said that he could not stand by and watch the news from Ukraine without doing something.
“I saw on the news that Kharkiv is where many universities are, or were, and that the city infrastructure had suffered tremendously,” Bowers said. Kharkiv is home to 38 colleges and universities and one of the country’s highest populations of college students. As recently as July 6, CNN reported that a pedagogical university (teacher’s college) in Kharkiv had been hit by Russian missiles.
“It occurred to me that there are probably some Ukrainian students partway through their academic studies that now have no campus. I know a little about helping students, and I know some people who are good at that,” said Bowers.
Bowers has been supporting student scholarships and learning opportunities at UAA since 2003, when he approached the university about cultural exchange between students of Russia and Alaska. Bowers scholarships have awarded $45,700, and helped 27 students graduate in various fields from business, global logistics, sociology, journalism, and international studies.
A now-retired project engineer who helped build many rural airports, Bowers said, “Alaska has been good to me, and good for me. I believe education is important. Paying back is important.”
“Last March I saw what was happening in Ukraine and began asking how UAA could help,” said UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell. “While the leadership of the University of Alaska system is unanimous in our willingness to take displaced Ukrainian students and faculty should the opportunity arise, a lack of funding created a barrier. Until now.”
The fund is designed to be flexible and available quickly to meet the needs of students who may want to begin in the Fall 2022 semester. Students from Ukraine should contact UAA’s International Student Services where they can be guided through the process of admission and support.
UAA has received inquiries from Ukrainian students who are interested in attending the university this fall.
“I know we can make a difference in several Ukrainian students' lives,” said Tod Burnett, president of the University of Alaska Foundation. “This fund is open for donations from anyone who wants to help. And while it’s focused on students attending UAA, we’d be happy to hear from donors who may wish to establish funds for students who might be attending UAF or UAS.”
New Chance, Inc. Ukraine Relief Program, the organization helping to resettle displaced Ukrainians in Alaska, says that 230 Ukrainians have resettled in Alaska so far, and 100 more are awaiting final paperwork. Zori Opanasevych, who works with the relief program, said they continue to field requests from Ukrainian families seeking help, sometimes up to 400 in a week, and she expects one-third of them to be students.
Contributions to the Ukrainian Student Support Fund can be made online.
The University of Alaska Foundation is an independent, nonprofit corporation established in 1974 to work in partnership with Alaska’s three universities to seek, secure and steward philanthropic support. For more information on the foundation and how to contribute, please visit www.alaska.edu/foundation.