Ukraine

‘I Have to Do Something': Ukrainian Student Graduating From Suffolk Speaks Out Against Russia's War

Nika Chelnokova, a Ukraine native who will be graduating from Boston's Suffolk University this weekend, learned of Russia's invasion when she was thousands of miles away from her home and family

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Ukraine native Nika Chelnokova had a very different college experience than she could have imagined.

She came to Boston to study at Suffolk University. While here, thousands of miles from her family, she learned of Russia's invasion of her homeland.

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"I was crying, yelling," she recalled. "And then I realized I have to do something. I have to do something."

And she did, by connecting with other members of the Ukrainian community in Boston. They came together to hold meetings, rallies and a call to action.

Chelnokova never imagined she'd be sharing her passions so emotionally on stage at a rally, and says it felt like the natural way to help.

"It's very painful, but I have to talk to them," she said.

Afterwards, she said she felt the energy shift.

"Five or six people started hugging me. They were like, 'Nika, what a good job,'" she said. "And at that moment, I realized how powerful I am."

Chelnokova kept ensuring people in Massachusetts understood the gravity of the war.

"You have to show people that we are united," she said. "We really care, so they will care, too."

Now a senior, she will graduate from Suffolk this weekend, closing a chapter of her story at a school she says became a support system.

Chelnokova says the school was a resource and was there to help her navigate such difficult circumstances by being flexible and understanding students' needs.

Her plan is to stay in the U.S. and apply for marketing jobs, but she says no mater where her journey takes her, her passion for Ukraine and keeping the people there top of mind will go with her.

"I'm not sure where the life will bring me," she said. "I hope to find another family of Ukrainian people in a different city, but I won't stop doing that."

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