Salus University students Alexandra Domaradsky ‘22PA and Jamie Dorotov ‘23SLP didn’t know it, but they both were having the same thought at about the same time: What can I do to help the people of Ukraine after an unprovoked attack on their country by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin thrust them into war?

Ukraine DonationsDomaradsky, a first generation Ukrainian American — Ukrainian was the first language she learned to speak — contacted the University’s Physician Assistant (PA) student government organization who had set up a donation drive for an international medical trip last year. She then received approval to move forward with the project from the Salus Office of Student Affairs.

Dorotov, also a first generation Ukrainian American, approached Robert Serianni, MS, CCC-SLP, FNAP, chair and program director of the University’s Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) program, and Kara Maharay, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S, director of Clinical Education at the Speech Language Institute (SLI) at Salus University, who forwarded her request to organize a drive to Student Affairs.

When Domaradsky and Dorotov learned they were both working toward the same goal, they exchanged emails and decided to collaborate on the effort. The University is also coordinating donation efforts with sister institution Manor College, which is affiliated with the Ukrainian Church.

The end result is that a box has been placed outside the student cafe entrance on the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania campus to gather non-perishable food, first-aid supplies, OTC medicines and various hygiene products for the people of Ukraine. The donated items are then taken to the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, which is co-organizing the effort. Volunteers there are packing boxes and shipping them over to Poland via Meest, a Ukrainian shipping company. A team from Poland will then coordinate transport to several regions in Ukraine.

Ukriane DonationsAnd, although they’re doing something to aid the people of Ukraine, it’s difficult on students of Ukrainian heritage to watch the dangerous events unfold in the country where they have roots.

Nataliya Babiychuk ‘25OD was born in Ukraine and moved to the United States with her parents in 2007. She said the war in her home country has increased the pressure of an already-challenging graduate school experience.

“The first week when the war started, I couldn’t focus on school,” said Babiychuk, who used to visit her grandparents every summer in Ukraine until they passed.

She stressed she’d like to do more to help the people of Ukraine than just donate and raise awareness. But the demands of her first year in grad school limit her time on doing things like helping box up humanitarian aid to be sent to Ukraine and marching in protest of the war.

“I can’t help in the way that I want to,” said Babiychuk, who still has relatives and friends in Ukraine. “I try to do the best I can but I can’t fail out of grad school. I have to hope that it’s going to all work out for the best.”

Alexandra DomaradskyDomaradsky’s father was born in Ukraine but when he was only three years old, he and his parents had to flee during World War II. They became refugees, traveling across Europe to find asylum in Germany, eventually immigrating to America and set up their lives. Her mother was born in and grew up in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, and moved to America after the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991. Both parents have extended family in Ukraine.

“Many Ukrainians have shared similar stories from loved ones in Ukraine,” said Domaradsky. “People leaving their homes on packed buses and waiting in long lines to cross the border, others staying and defending their freedom in an unprovoked war. Everyone has a heartbreaking story that is getting sadder each day.”

Dorotov’s parents were both born and raised in Kyiv. Her father, along with his parents and brother, immigrated to Philadelphia in 1992 while her mother, along with her parents, immigrated to Philadelphia in 1993. Both parents and their families left Ukraine due to the antisemitism they experienced there.

“I am trying to stay as informed and up-to-date as possible,” said Dorotov. “I watch both the American and Ukrainian news, which generally seem to be giving similar information. We are also in contact with our family and friends everyday and they are updating us according to what they are seeing and personally experiencing.”

Jamie DorotovWhile tackling graduate school during a pandemic is difficult enough, adding the stress of having family members and friends in harm’s way has added additional pressure on the students.

“It was hard to focus on everyday activities when all I could think about were the horrible things happening and the innocent people being harmed,” said Dorotov. “My whole family has been really supportive of one-another and it helps to know that sometimes you just have to cry it out. It is extremely helpful to have a strong support system, and both the Salus staff and my cohort have been very supportive during this difficult time.”

Domaradsky said there isn’t an hour that goes by that she isn’t checking her phone for updates and thinking about the people who are still in Ukraine, fighting for their country.

"The whole world is devastated by what is happening in Ukraine,” she said. “I don’t think this is something anyone can cope with. As we have admired a united stance for democracy from afar, I’ve been touched by the efforts on a local scale to provide aid. Additionally, I appreciate all the encouraging messages from teachers, students, and various other members of the Salus community.”

The students all encourage local people to give what they can to help the Ukrainians.

Nataliya Babiychuk“I know I can speak on behalf of Ukrainians and the Ukrainian community when I say that we are more grateful than we can express for the support and your donations,” said Domaradsky. “I call on you now to continue your donations and to please contact our government officials to demand action.”

Dorotov echoed that sentiment.

“I would just like to thank everyone who was able to donate because every little bit helps,” she said. “I hope people will continue to be supportive and helpful, as the citizens of Ukraine will be needing our help and support for many months to come.”

Babiychuk added she hopes people also would be considerate when contemplating the plight of the Ukrainian people and those with Ukrainian heritage in the United States.

She pointed out that when the war first broke out, she was in a chat group with members of her class when she made the group aware of a petition to remove select Russian banks from the Society of Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), the international payment messaging system, as a way to increase economic pressure on the Russian financial system in order to persuade the Putin regime to end military operations in Ukraine.

“A few classmates decided to speak out against that,” said Babiychuk. “I’d like for people to inform themselves more about the situation and be a little bit more considerate and compassionate, especially since we are an institution that is predominately healthcare workers and we are going to see diverse groups of people from different countries.”