Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Kettering College Supports Ukrainian Student Initiative

Story by Ivan Riapolov

In the wake of the devastating invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, countless young lives were thrown into turmoil, with uncertainty clouding their dreams of education. When the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists created an Education Emergency Response plan for Ukrainian students, Kettering College responded by developing a Ukrainian Student Initiative (USI) on our campus. As a result, 34 students from Ukraine are now studying at Kettering College to continue their education, safely away from the war in their country.

From facilitating their safe departure from Ukraine to securing legal documentation, obtaining visas, and arranging air travel, the effort to bring students to Kettering College included a series of hurdles to overcome. The first group of USI students arrived in August 2022, followed by another group in January 2023. Each student has an incredible story and aspirations to serve as a health care professional locally and internationally—eventually contributing to healing and restoring their homeland through their expertise.

Since the launch of the USI, Kettering College has been tirelessly seeking innovative ways to raise awareness and secure funding, ensuring the sustainability of this life-changing program. Collaborative efforts from the Kettering Health Foundation, Kettering Health, and private individuals have been instrumental in driving this cause forward. One remarkable example of awareness and resource development has been visits to Ohio-based religious and civic organizations by Kettering College Administration and a group of students from Ukraine.

In early 2023, President Nate Brandstater, alongside his colleagues and several Ukrainian students, visited several Seventh-day Adventist churches, Rotary Clubs, and other institutions to inform them of the USI. Through heartfelt storytelling and powerful presentations, they showcased how this initiative has provided a lifeline for the aspiring students, enabling them to continue their educational journey at Kettering College despite the challenges they faced.

These engagements with the community and organizations served as a platform to raise awareness about what has been happening here in Ohio to provide Ukrainians with education and hope. President Brandstater and his team are leaving no stone unturned in conveying the transformative impact the USI has had on the lives of both these young people as well as Kettering College faculty and staff.

Through these meaningful interactions, the wider community was invited to be part of this noble cause by extending their support through monetary contributions, in-kind gifts, and prayers. We believe these visits further strengthened the bond between Kettering College and its supporters, fostering a sense of shared responsibility in making the USI a resounding success. The team has not only raised awareness about the cause but also united the community in a collective effort to empower the dreams of these deserving young individuals.

The USI at Kettering College stands as a symbol of unity, where education becomes a powerful tool in the face of adversity, empowering young hearts to create a brighter future for themselves and their nation.

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