Ukrainian Support Fund Created
As the Russia-Ukraine war continues, many Ukrainians are facing an unimaginable reality as they attempt to rebuild their lives and fashion some kind of normalcy for themselves. The students and scholars among that group caught the attention of Torsten Hegmann, Ph.D., director of Kent State’s Advanced Materials and Liquid Crystal Institute (AMLCI). He saw the conflict unfolding on television and felt compelled to help in some way.
“I’m sitting here an ocean away, and I feel like that really shouldn’t matter,” Hegmann said. “I am from Europe—Germany. So that war is about as close as can be. If you drive from my hometown to the first city in the Ukraine, that’s a shorter distance than from Kent to New York. It’s close.”
Hegmann and his wife, Elda, who is an assistant research professor at Kent State, have personal and scientific connections to people from Ukraine. The Hegmanns joined with Trustees Research Professor John West, Ph.D., and his partner, Cevin West Cole, who also have connections in Ukraine, to create a new fund: the Ukrainian Scholar Support Fund.
Thanks to equally generous gifts from both couples, the Ukrainian Scholar Support Fund helps Ukrainian scientists, scholars and students access higher education opportunities in the U.S. This includes an international visitor stipend, travel costs and the necessary support upon arrival to the U.S. Visa applications will be expedited, whenever possible, with separate generous support from Kent State University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “We just decided to do something and that meant putting our money where our mouth is,” Hegmann explained.
The destruction caused by the war has affected every aspect of life in Ukraine, including education. According to a New York Times article in March, more than 900 educational institutions have been damaged or destroyed. Education has resumed remotely for many students, but the research opportunities have been greatly impacted as they often require lab space, equipment and other resources only available onsite at universities.
“We want to help these scholars in the Ukraine keep doing what it is they love doing, which is their work,” Hegmann said. “That’s the same feeling we all have; we want to continue our research.”
More than 3.7 million Ukrainians have fled their home country since the invasion, making it one of the largest refugee crises in more than 60 years. The Pew Research Center estimates that approximately 10 percent of the Ukrainian population has been displaced – internally or externally – because of the war.
“Hopefully, through the fund that we create, there are people who can show resilience in the face of this Russian invasion,” Hegmann said. “They can say, ‘Look, we are still up and running! We are fighting back with the tools that we have, which is showing our science to the world.’”
If you are interested in supporting this fund, please visit our giving page. If you or someone you know is a Ukrainian scientist, scholar or student and would like to apply for assistance through this fund, please email Dr. Torsten Hegmann at email@example.com or Dr. John West at firstname.lastname@example.org.