Theses for the defense of the diploma in a cardboard box, because no other paper was found in the dugout, seminars and lectures in the trenches during the break between battles and exams to the sound of explosions – this is how Ukrainian students studied this year.
A student card gives them the right to study quietly in the rear, but they have decided that they are needed in the army. Stories of students who went to the front and at the same time did not interrupt their studies, in TSN.
Oksana Rubanyak receives her junior bachelor’s degree in September, but she and her fellow students did not succeed in June because she was in the trenches in Donetsk region. “She received a diploma with honors. She is a Presidential Scholar. She always studied excellently and received an increased scholarship. She is from a small mountain village where the school has 60 students,” Yuriy Moskalenko, director of the Ivano-Frankivsk Vocational College of the Carpathian National University, tells about the student.
On the first day of the full-scale invasion, 19-year-old Oksana and her friends signed up for the Teroboron, and then asked to go to the front. The girl became a machine gunner of the 72nd separate mechanized brigade. Her service is at zero all the time. “I was offered to work in the headquarters, to do girl work. But my answer was simple – I came with the boys, I will fight with him, I will leave with them,” says Oksana.
Unlike many of her siblings, Oksana had basic military skills: she assembled a machine gun, knew how to shoot it, knew the theory. After all, long before the Great War, she also enrolled in the military department – optional for a pedagogical university. “I understood what would happen… I didn’t want it to be a war, but my mind told me that something would happen,” says the machine gunner.
Oksana’s teachers did not even offer to take an academic leave and study after the victory. She passed state exams between battles. But the comrades marveled at how a machine gunner learns in the trenches and still manages to cheer them on. “I was really shocked when I saw that she still had time to study. We have small pieces of rest, and she still sits down and teaches. I don’t know if I would be able to do that,” says a colleague.
Andriy Kasyanenko is a student of the Kharkiv Law Academy. He had just dug a trench, and the commander allowed him to retreat to the green area in order to safely communicate with TSN journalists via online communication. A 22-year-old young man has been defending his hometown from the Rashists since the first days of aggression. “When all of Kharkiv woke up from the explosions, I got up, didn’t even brush my teeth, went to the Military Commissariat. In the first hour. When Defense Minister Reznikov said that we are waiting for everyone who can hold a weapon, I looked at myself in the mirror – I have 2 hands, I can hold a weapon. And as the history of these 6 months has shown, this is a real people’s war, despite the fact that our army is professional,” says Andriy.
Andrii admits that he skipped military training lessons at school. I also did not attend the military department in university, so I had to study from scratch, under explosions. “When I got to Teroboron, I was given a machine gun, I didn’t know how to assemble it. I didn’t know how to aim with it,” the young man recalls.
But the excellent student did not give up in principle even from in-patient studies. After the victory, he dreams of becoming an anti-corruption prosecutor, currently in the second year of his master’s degree. And although he doesn’t open the gadget-books between battles at all, he passed the semester exams with flying colors.
“The level of his intellectual potential is off the charts. He is the head of the debating club and has done a lot of good for the image of the university. I look not only at him, but also at other guys: they left voluntarily from the first day, neither a military department behind their shoulders, nor experience. But they could not put up with it”, – convinces the vice-rector of the Kharkiv National Law Academy Yuriy Barabash.
In Vinnytsia, at the technical university, state exams are taken online and diplomas of the future energy industry are defended. The head of the commission turned on another graduate and saw bushes and a young man in a military uniform. “Immediately it became clear that the boy is at the front. The lists do not show where the student is located,” says Mykhailo Hanchuk, head of the state examination commission of the Vinnytsia Technical University.
Paratrooper Mykhailo Kopytko defended himself, he prepared a report for the diploma in a cardboard box – he did not find any other paper in the dugout. At first, they wanted to give an automatic grade, the teachers say, but the graduate insisted on a full-fledged exam and received a well-deserved 4. “When the war ends, there will be victory, they will return here and they will already have a diploma. We need specialists, excellent specialists. In particular, which are correctly assessed”, – adds Hanchuk.
The teachers hope that all their students will return home alive so that they can rebuild and develop Ukraine, which they are currently defending at the front, with their knowledge.
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