The Charger Blog

International Business Transfer Student from Ukraine: ‘I’m Glad to Be Here’

During her first semester at the University, Kate Fedirko ’25 has enjoyed getting to know her fellow Chargers, as well as learning about her new home and its culture. She’s already traveled to Washington, D.C. with her classmates, gotten involved with organizations on campus, and become an active member of the University community.

April 14, 2023

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Kate Fedirko ’25 on campus.
Kate Fedirko ’25 on campus.

When Kateryna “Kate” Fedirko ’25 first arrived at the University of New Haven shortly before the start of the Spring semester, she was excited to come to the U.S. and to continue her education at the University. Since then, she’s charged into embracing all that her new school and her new home have to offer. She’s been exploring new cities, making new connections, and getting involved on campus.

Fedirko, a native of Ukraine, describes herself as a “city girl,” having grown up in the port city of Odesa, near the Black Sea. There, she enjoyed the ease of walking everywhere, from the local cafes and restaurants to the beach, which was just a short walk away from her home. She has immersed herself in getting to know the University and local communities.

Kate Fedirko ’25 in Odesa, Ukraine.
Kate Fedirko ’25 in Odesa, Ukraine.

“I think I was a bit scared about making friends here because American culture is different from European culture,” she said. “Then I started meeting people, and I am continuing to make American friends. One thing I’ve noticed is that the transportation system is different here. You mostly use cars here, and people don’t walk as much.”

When she arrived in New York shortly after the New Year, Fedirko was greeted at the airport by several members of the University community. Her opportunity to transfer to the University was created through the University’s collaboration with EducationUSA Ukraine in Kyiv, Ukraine.

Fedirko, who has also studied in Estonia, had long been interested in continuing her education in the U.S. After applying and interviewing for the opportunity at the University, she was thrilled when she learned she’d become a Charger.

“After about two weeks, I got a call that I’d been accepted, and I was so surprised and happy about that it I cried,” she recalls. “It was emotional for me, and I’m glad to be here.”

‘A sense of community’

Meanwhile, many of Fedirko’s family members and friends remain in Odesa. Still in regular contact with them, she says they assure her that they’re safe. They continue to go to work and to live their lives with as much of a sense of normalcy as possible. Fedirko says they’ve mentioned the drastically rising prices they’ve been facing due to inflation. But, most importantly, they’re safe.

Kate Fedirko ’25 in Estonia.
Kate Fedirko ’25 in Estonia.

Fedirko was in Odesa when Russia first invaded Ukraine in February 2022, and she remained there for two months before heading to Estonia to continue her studies. She describes that time as particularly stressful, as she constantly monitored the news to keep up with the latest developments in the war. It was a feeling of powerlessness, she says, as she became increasingly aware of the impact of the war in her home country, but was unable to do anything about it.

"We heard sirens, and it was just like in the movie Silent Hill,” she explains. “When you hear the sirens, you’re so terrified. I think people have gotten used to that now. It’s just a normal day. I think after the second month, I got used to it as well.”

Despite the sirens and the impact of the war, Fedirko and her fellow Ukrainians did their best to continue to go to work, school, and stay connected with loved ones. She and her classmates continued their studies online, as it was too dangerous to meet in-person. Eager to be independent, she was living on her own at the time – something she that says was a bit scary after the invasion. She found solace and a sense of support among her classmates.

“I think it was nice to speak to students from my previous university because we had a sense of community during this time,” she said. “We’d chat and message to talk about different things that were happening in our city and different regions, and it was nice to have people who felt what you felt. I also had time during the day for a walk with my friend, but when we heard sirens, we were running back home because it was scary.”

Kate Fedirko ’25 (fourth from left) is a proud member of the University’s Women in Business Club.
Kate Fedirko ’25 (fourth from left) is a proud member of the University’s Women in Business Club.
More opportunities for students from Ukraine

Fedirko then left Ukraine to study in Estonia as an exchange student, which is when she learned about the opportunity at the University of New Haven. Several University faculty and staff members, including Bradley Woodworth, Ph.D., had been working with EducationUSA Ukraine to create an opportunity for a Ukrainian student. Fedirko was elated when she learned she’d received the scholarship that supports her tuition, general fees, and room and board for the duration of her time as a student. Funds are also being raised to cover the tuition of additional students from Ukraine.

“We hope to bring up to three additional students from Ukraine to the University of New Haven,” said Dr. Woodworth, a professor of history who was among the Chargers who welcomed Fedirko at the airport. “I have been meeting with students in Ukraine, brought together by EducationUSA, to prepare for university study in the U.S., and we hope, at the University of New Haven.”

‘We’re very friendly when you get to know us’

Throughout her first semester as a Charger, Fedirko has taken every opportunity to get involved at the University. She traveled to Washington, D.C., with dozens of her fellow students – many of whom are also international students – over spring break. She says she felt a sense of community with them, and she enjoyed exploring the city with them.

Kate Fedirko ’25 in Odesa, Ukraine.
Kate Fedirko ’25 in Odesa, Ukraine.

An international business major, she’s already gotten involved with the Women in Business and Entrepreneurship Clubs, and she’s been enjoying the meetings and the opportunities to meet new people. Keenly interested in marketing, she hopes to pursue a marketing internship – or, even, a marketing role with a recognized student organization (RSO).

An undergraduate assistant in the University’s International Admissions Office, Fedirko hopes to continue to get involved with new organizations on campus, and to take on leadership roles. A former belly dancer, she loves to sing and dance. She may eventually take her singing from the cover songs she shares on her social media to the stage.

Interested in travel, Fedirko also hopes to explore more of the United States. And she’s curious to learn more about the culture – and to share her own.

“I want people to know that we may seem cold in the beginning, but don’t be scared!” she said with a laugh. “We’re very friendly when you get to know us, and we’re ready to help. We have a good sense of community, and we help each other out a lot.”