Calgary Friends of Ukrainian Catholic University hold a fundraiser

    Deborah Johnson, the treasurer of the Calgary friends of UCU

    Kateryna Bandura for New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

    The Calgary Friends of Ukrainian Catholic University raised $44,000 at the end of the 13th annual Calgary Friends of the Ukrainian Catholic University fundraiser titled UCU Beyond COVID: Faith – Teaching – Learning. The event was held on October 28 in support of UCU scholarships and exchange programs with St. Mary’s University in Calgary.

    “Over the past 13 years, the Calgary friends of UCU have raised over $600,000 to support exchange programs and scholarships,” Deborah Johnson, the treasurer of the Calgary friends of UCU, told the attendees.

    “Our fundraising objective for 2021 again is $50,000,” Johnson said. “And it will again be dedicated to student scholarships and to the UCU St. Mary’s University exchange agreement.”

    Since 2014 St. Mary’s University in Calgary has welcomed exchange students from Ukrainian Catholic University. The organization’s objective in 2020 was to raise $50,000 for the UCU and St. Mary’s exchange and for scholarships. These scholarships partially or fully cover the costs of their education and rooms.

    Students from St. Mary’s were to leave for Ukraine on October 18, however, the COVID situation in Ukraine remains precarious and the trip had to be cancelled.

    “The diaspora helps us to be financially independent, which in the current conditions of Ukraine means to preserve proper values,” professor Myroslav Marynovych said during the event. “UCU is trying to fulfill the testament of patriarch Yosyf and become the forging place to foster new generations of priests and secular Apostolos, fighters for truth and science, free from violence.”

    The bulk of the 2020 contributions went to 20 UCU students, two of whom were present at the evening.

    Anastasia Serdiuchenko and Iryna Savchenko are both fourth-year students enrolled in the Social Work program at UCU. Anastasia is from Poltava, a 17-hour train ride from Lviv. She knew nothing of UCU until after high school when she visited UCU as part of a program for aspiring young people looking for a future in business government and public service. Anastasiya sat in on a few courses at UCU and she was hooked.

    “I just felt like really friendly atmosphere and because it’s Catholic University, I was absolutely sure that is a great decision,” Anastasia said during the presentation. She is typical of many UCU students, who want to broaden their education, not only for themselves but to contribute to society, to Ukraine. She saw the opportunity to study in Canada and she said “yes, I’m in”.

    “I always had like small dreams to study in English speaking environments,” she said. “I decided that it’s going to be like really nice opportunity for me to practice my English, to meet new culture, new people and also to present my university and Ukraine as well.”

    Iryna came to UCU all the way from Kyiv, and she was only 16 at the time.

    “In my 11th grade, I was not sure about who I wanted to be,” Iryna said, “and my friend told me that he’s going to UCU to IT classes. I also started to search about this university. I found the program of social work and I decided to go there because I’m interested in psychology and all related areas.”

    “I’m just really grateful for the opportunity to see the world, to share Ukrainian traditions, to share Ukrainian experience all around the world,” Iryna said. “And also, it’s a great impact on education system in Ukraine, because UCU is really innovative and different from other universities in Ukraine, it is fully new and open to other students because students can get a whole new experience.”

    Korchinski said that supporting UCU financially is a vote of confidence for UCU and also to the St. Mary’s exchange program.

    “What your support is saying ‘we believe in you, we believe in your independence, your high standards, we believe in your students,’” she said.

    Professor Myroslav Marynovych called the UCU “the fruit of the joint efforts of Ukrainians in diaspora and Ukrainians from the homeland”.

    “Archbishop Borys [Gudziak] uses to define UCU as ‘a small, tugboat towing a huge ship of higher education in the country, in the hope that it will in turn lead society,’” Marynovych said.

    Interested donors can contribute at the University’s website supporting.ucu.edu.ua or at ucef.ca. They can also contribute towards a named scholarship: when that scholarship is awarded, the donor and the recipient student are matched and given each other’s names. Another option is in support of the St. Mary’s and UCU exchange agreement. Donors also may wish to consider donating the tuition cost of a semester for a UCC new student at St. Mary’s.

    This article is written under the Local Journalism Initiative agreement