Stetson University welcomes 4 Ukrainian students amid Russian invasion

Students were awarded a scholarship for academic school year

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Stetson University is opening its doors to four Ukrainian students in an effort to help those in impacted by the ongoing Russian invasion.

News 6 sat down with all four students inside the Russian, East Europe and Eurasian studies building at Stetson.

The students said their thoughts are not far from home.

[TRENDING: TRACK, MODELS, MORE: Central Florida in cone for projected Category 3 hurricane | Florida deputy struck, killed by front-end loader in hit-and-run | Become a News 6 Insider (it’s free!)]

“For the first few days, I miss my family so much. I couldn’t believe I was here without my parents and without my acquaintances back in Ukraine,” said Yana Verbova, who is studying pre-dentistry.

Verbova, from western Ukraine, said it has been an adjustment moving from Ukraine to Florida

All four students were awarded a scholarship to attend Stetson University for the academic school year.

“We hear air raids every day and sometimes we are here, when we hear any sound that is similar to the air raid, we always look whether there is enemy play in the sky,” said Yuliia Balan, who is studying political science.

Balan said the university has been welcoming and comforting.

She is also from western Ukraine. While the war between Russia and Ukraine has not endangered her home, she still saw the effects before leaving her university in Ukraine.

“My dorm is full of Ukrainian refugees, so I better give up my place in my dorm for the person who really needs that,” Balan said.

Russia has announced this week it is mobilizing up to 300,000 new soldiers.

The news was met with anti-war demonstrations in Russia, where police arrested more than a thousand protestors.

Thousands more decided to flee the country rather than be drafted.

Seeing this news is the hardest part, according to Verbova. She said she calls home every day.

“We’re thousands of kilometers away, but maybe I can cheer them up somehow by just communicating,” Verbova said.

Both Verbova and Balan are hoping for a happier trip when they go home.

“I hope the war will finish soon and we will celebrate our victory,” Verbova said.

You can listen to every episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate in the media player below:

About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.