WEST LAFAYETTE — Monday was the first day of classes for Purdue University students.
As many adjust to their new schedules some Ph.D. students are adjusting to a new country and culture.
Purdue University has brought have brought 20 faculty and researchers to the University from Ukraine, it’s part of the Ukrainian Scholars Initiative.
The decision was made to create the program by the Purdue University President. The program gives Ukrainian scholars a safe place to continue their studies while the war is going on in their home country.
We talked to "Valeria." She's studying economics with a focus on currency and risk management.
"The only one thing I did to prepare for war is that I copied the folder with my Ph.D. to a flash drive so I could have a second copy," Valeria said.
Valeria isn't comfortable sharing her last name because her mother is still in Ukraine. She knew she wanted to become a Ph.D. student since she was a child and has worked towards that goal her whole life.
While she was able to save the majority of the work she had already done, she now must redo much of it since the currency and economy in Ukraine is much different due to the war.
She hopes to use what she is currently learning to rebuild her country’s economic system once the way is over.
"I hope that my recommendations and some pieces of advice will be used by our national bank, or maybe not by the national bank but some authorities and enterprises and consumers to understand what we should do with our finance system," Valeria said.
Purdue recognized that there were several scholars like Valeria who wouldn’t be able to continue their studies due to the war, which has now been going on for six months.
Those who take part won’t receive a Purdue University degree but rather a safe place to study and once the war is over they will return to their home universities.
"The point isn't to hire people here at Purdue or lure them away from Ukraine,” Peter Hollenbeck the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at Purdue University said. “It's to give them a safe place to keep their work going keep it warm until it's safe to return."
Valeria says her university is still physically standing but that is different. She says it is now controlled by the Russian regime which has changed the quality of education.
She tries to check in with her family regularly but only hears from her mom about once a week. The only time she says is able to speak to the family is if her mother is able to use Wi-Fi that hasn’t been disabled, something currently hard to come by in Ukraine.
"You understand that you could be in those shoes or your mother or your family or your friends,” Valeria said. “It's difficult I check Instagram and stories and Facebook and Instagram (in general) just to understand if people are alive because they post something."
The program for Ukrainian students hosted by Purdue is set to last a year. Valeria says she will do everything in her power to finish her degree and return to her country.
"One thing I strongly believe is that one day I will come back and will improve my country — what I can like economy or education or other fields,” Valeria said.
Purdue said most of the Ukrainian scholars it hosts are women. Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave the country, in case they are called on to fight.
At this time the program is slated to last a year, but officials with the University say they will re-evaluate where the war stands and go from there once the year is over.