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‘There are people who cannot realize their dreams, so I have to realize mine’: WKU Ukrainian Club hosts ‘Unissued Diplomas’ exhibition

Graphic from @wku_ukranian_club on Instagram.

40 faces staring out into the lobby of the Mahurin Honors College and International Center. Some bearing smiles, some more somber looking. 40 sets of eyes gazing back into the eyes of the living students in front of them. 40 lives, all students, who never received a diploma as they died early at the hands of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

On Feb. 27, the WKU Ukrainian Club hosted the opening of “Unissued Diplomas” in the HCIC, a worldwide exhibition honoring Ukrainian students who lost their lives starting Feb. 24, 2022 with the beginning of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

 The Unissued Diplomas initiative started in 2023, when exhibitions were displayed across 24 countries, according to their website. 

Students in the Ukrainian Club on campus were inspired to host the event to remind people that the war is still ongoing in Ukraine.

“For me, it’s important while I’m in the U.S. to tell people what is going on in Ukraine,” Taisiia Maslenko, vice president of the Ukrainian Club said. 

Maslenko is Ukrainian and is studying sociology at WKU for the semester.

“It’s my job to keep that attention because there is always something happening there. People are dying every day,” Maslenko said. 

Maslenko explained she believes people in America are not helpless to the cause and she encourages them to donate money, repost important news and educate themselves on the issue.

Five of the 40 students featured were former friends of Maslenko. 

“It’s so weird to see people in their 20’s at a funeral,” Maslenko said.

Students attending the event came to support the Ukraine Club and learn about the current sociopolitical climate in Ukraine.

“I honestly stopped hearing about Ukraine in the news, so I was interested in what’s still going on,” Hannah Forrest, a senior psychological science major said. “This event was needed.”

Other students agreed and shared a sentiment of gratitude for their own lives.

“Looking at them and some of their ages, I have to remember that I have all of these opportunities,” Mariama Diallo, senior political science and communication studies double major said. “There are people who cannot realize their dreams, so I have to realize mine.”

News Reporter Bailey Reed can be reached at [email protected].

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