BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas — Throughout each day, as Nataliia Sviazinska does her research and teaching work as an engineering doctoral student at Texas A&M, she knows her parents, grandma and cousins back in Kiev could be under threat of an explosion at any time.
“I never stop thinking about it," she said. "... It’s kind of like a part of my brain right now is always occupied with that.”
While Sviazinska calls her family daily and constantly checks the news from Ukraine, the Texas A&M University System has pledged to ease any financial burdens from students such as herself.
This Tuesday Chancellor John Sharp's office enacted the historic Regents Grant, established first for student survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Approximately 15 students from Texas A&M and Tarleton State University have already applied for the Regents Grant, which will offer them up to $25,000 per academic year.
“This can be used for tuition," Sharp said. "It can also be used for living expenses, rent and things like, that to make sure they don’t have to leave school because of what happened to their families and properties back home."
Sharp anticipates at least two dozen or more people will apply for this grant over time, he said. The grant may continue on past this academic year if the war in Ukraine persists longer. Sviazinska said she will consider applying for the grant, but believes it will be particularly beneficial for undergrads.
“If they are paying for their education by themselves fully, especially if they are supported by their families back in Ukraine, maybe now it’s not the time they can get that [prior] support anymore," she said.
Sviazinska said Texas A&M faculty have been supportive of her emotionally adjusting to this new reality. She hopes that universities like A&M will help streamline the transfer student process for Ukrainian academics.
Sviazinska said she has also noticed the university offering affected students services such as mental health support in light of the onset of the invasion. All she can think about, though, is home.
“I am the last one who needs the counseling, because I am sitting in College Station in Texas," she said. "It’s warm outside. I have food. I have money. I don’t have a fear that a missile will fly through my window any moment.”