Posted by: U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John F. Tefft
Last week I visited the Pinchuk Art Center to address this year’s winners of the Pinchuk Foundation’s WorldWideStudies (WWS) scholarship. I was joined by British Ambassador Leigh Turner and other representatives of the diplomatic corps who turned out to celebrate this important program. Now in its second year, WWS sends promising young Ukrainians to study for their advanced degrees at top international universities. Students pursue degrees in fields selected by the Foundation as being a top priority for further development of Ukraine, fields such as: agricultural studies, environment and ecology, law, and public administration.
In 2010 the Pinchuk Foundation awarded scholarships to 17 bright, young Ukrainians. This year the number of scholarship winners has grown to 19 and I’m happy to say that three of them will be studying at U.S. universities. After an exciting awards ceremony, I had a chance to talk with the U.S.-bound scholarship winners. Andrii Kril and Natalia Shcherbynska will pursue Masters of Law degrees at University of Pittsburgh and New York University respectively. Anastasiya Prymovych will attend Harvard University for a Masters in Regional Studies. I should mention that, as it turns out, Anastasiya is also an alumna of one of our U.S. Government sponsored exchange programs. She spent a year studying in the U.S. on our UGRAD program which, incidentally, is about to send 28 Ukrainians to study at U.S. colleges and universities for the 2011-2012 school year.
It was great to talk to Andrii, Natalia and Anastasia about their academic goals and what life will be like as American grad students. It’s also very encouraging to think that these sharp young people will eventually return to Ukraine with their degrees to help build a brighter future for their country. This is one of the most important aspects of the WordWideStudies scholarship: in order to qualify for the scholarship the students must commit to returning to Ukraine after graduation and working in their chosen field for five years. We require a similar commitment from Ukrainians who study in the U.S. on our U.S. Government-funded exchange programs -programs like FLEX, UGrad, Muskie, Humphrey and Fulbright. We do this because talented students are absolutely necessary to expanding the cadre of Ukrainians who possess the skills needed to help Ukraine thrive in a world that is increasingly educated, international and integrated.
2012 will mark the 20th anniversary of U.S. Government educational exchange programs in Ukraine. I’m proud to say that over the past two decades we have sent over 10,000 Ukrainian students, professors and teachers to the U.S. to study in our high schools, colleges and universities. These Ukrainians made and are making amazing contributions in areas of public health, civil society, education and economic development; contributions that improve the lives of their countrymen. It is fortunate that the Pinchuk Foundation has also taken up the challenge of educating the next generation of Ukrainian leaders by sending this new group of 19 students to some of the world’s best schools. As I told the scholarship winners during the ceremony, we all look forward to their returning home with new insight and renewed energy to be part of a generation that will transform Ukraine. Victor Pinchuk knows a good investment when he sees one. The WorldWideStudies program is no exception.