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Ukrainian Student Reflects on DePaul Business Course

Vira Saliieva was one of 100-plus students from Ukrainian Catholic University who enrolled in an online course at DePaul

Ukrainian student Vira Saliieva was one of 24 students who enrolled in the Driehaus College of Business as part of DePaul's partnership with Ukrainian Catholic University to offer free online courses to college students in Ukraine.
Ukrainian student Vira Saliieva was one of 24 students who enrolled in the Driehaus College of Business as part of DePaul's partnership with Ukrainian Catholic University to offer free online courses to college students in Ukraine.

In spring quarter 2022, DePaul enrolled more than 100 students from Ukrainian Catholic University into 42 of its online courses. In an effort to support these students whose lives had been disrupted by the threat of Russian attacks, DePaul waived tuition and fees. The Driehaus College of Business enrolled 24 of these Ukrainian students. Among them was Vira Saliieva, who lives and studies in the city of L’viv in Western Ukraine.

“Luckily, only a few Zoom discussions were interrupted by air raid sirens,” Saliieva says. “When an alarm started, I had to go downstairs and connect from one of the classrooms on the ground level we have at university.”

Associate Professor Lisa Young
Associate Professor Lisa Young taught the course Big Data Storytelling, which was taken by three Ukrainian students.

Saliieva was one of three Ukrainian students who completed the business undergraduate course Big Data Storytelling, taught by Lisa Young, an associate professor in the School of Hospitality Leadership at DePaul.

“They took the class to a whole new level,” Young says. “It was like having a window into their world, and at the same time it allowed our students to have a window into their world.”

For their final projects, Young asked students to provide a presentation on a specific topic, using publicly available data to tell a story. Saliieva presented on the importance of freedom of speech and its relationship with economic development, gender inequality and public health.

“To be able to use my talents as a professor to help students complete their degree and be more successful in their career – I felt like I was actually providing help and that was very motivating,” Young says. “Knowing I was one of many professors who were making an impact – this is what DePaul is all about. It goes back to our vision and mission, Here, We Do.”

At the beginning of the course, Young asked students to introduce themselves to their classmates in an online discussion. In her introduction, Saliieva described working as a part-time journalist in a project related to startups and investments, which boosted her interest in business and data analysis. This summer, Saliieva will work as an intern for the IT department in Blue Media S. A., a Polish company that specializes in payment tools. Below, Saliieva describes her experience with DePaul and how she hopes to use her skills to contribute to Ukraine’s future.

What does it mean for you to continue your education through DePaul? Why did you decide to enroll?

One of the reasons I decided to enroll is because I deeply believe that there is no useless knowledge, and if you are presented an opportunity to learn something new or make new connections, take it. In addition, after all that happened and continues to happen to Ukraine, the need for skilled and experienced professionals who could build the country's new future will be very high. Classes at DePaul, so generously offered to us, seemed an amazing opportunity for me to gain that valuable knowledge to use in my future career. Moreover, enrollment meant a chance to reach out to even more people and make them aware of what is going on in my homeland and how they can help.

What has your experience been like so far?

If I were asked to describe my feelings after receiving an email about my successful enrollment, the two words would be "excitement" about the new opportunity, and "worry" that I won't make it. However, as soon as the course started, the latter of the two disappeared completely. The course appeared to be insightful and beneficial for my future career, and I am experiencing true admiration and gratitude to all people at DePaul who made it possible for us to join these classes.

What have you learned in your course?

So far, my experience in the class has been a blend of both theoretical and practical knowledge, receiving an enormous amount of support, and even self-reflection. After completing the very first assignment, which was to publish an introductory post about oneself to the discussion forum, I received dozens of messages from my classmates writing about Ukraine, expressing sympathy and concern. We did not even know each other at the time, so I was really impressed and thankful for such a kind gesture. The support from my instructor, Dr. Lisa Young, was also remarkable. For instance, she was generous to set up a separate homework discussion session for Ukrainian students so that it was convenient for us to attend despite the time zone differences.

How has the war in Ukraine impacted your education and career?

Three months into the war, I have realized how blessed I am to be safe; none of my friends and family members have been injured or killed. With this realization came the feeling of great responsibility and motivation to do everything possible for our victory, be it studying or volunteering. While I have not been affected physically, I believe that the war impacted my mentality. I reassessed what patriotism means to me, realized the true value of many things, and stopped taking them for granted. Also, after seeing unthinkable atrocities the occupants left behind in Bucha, Irpin and numerous other places, when talking to kids who took refuge in L’viv, when listening to those who came from cities swept away by the shelling, I became even more compassionate and thoughtful about the needs of others.

Finally, all horrors of this war and bravery of our people gave me one of the most valuable insights about my future career. After I graduate, no matter where I study, I want to work in Ukraine and for Ukraine. In this sense, war has helped me to make a choice in the favor of staying here and building my country's new future from th​e ground up.