Abington rallies to support Ukraine

Roman Nagirniak

Penn State Abington sophomore Roman Nagirniak. a first generation Ukrainian American, organized the Stand for Ukraine rally on campus.

Credit: Zack Gething

ABINGTON, Pa. — Penn State Abington student and first-generation Ukrainian American Roman Nagirniak organized a "Stand with Ukraine" rally on campus this week, garnering the support of faculty, staff and other students. 

At the rally, Nagirniak said, “Write to your elected officials and ask them for more monetary support for Ukraine. Donate to the many foundations helping soldiers on the front lines get medical support. Donate supplies. Most of all, stand with Ukraine by educating yourself and others on the horrors that are happening in Ukraine and sharing information via social media."

Almost 50 people attended the rally, which featured supplies to make posters of support for Ukraine and the country’s national anthem, in Ukrainian and English. The anthem encourages Ukrainians to band together as brothers and fight for the common cause of a free Ukraine, explained Nagirniak.

Nagirniak, who has many family members stranded in Ukraine, reflected on his experience as a first-generation Ukrainian American.  

“It’s hard to deal with, but the support and generosity that we’ve gotten from around the world and the United States has been inspiring,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of support on campus. Faculty have been very understanding. And I’ve had one-on-one conversations with professors regarding their concerns with my family. Friends reach out to me. They are genuinely worried about my family and Ukraine as a sovereign country."

Stand with Ukraine by educating yourself and others on the horrors that are happening in Ukraine and sharing information via social media.

—Roman Nagirniak , Penn State Abington student and first-generation Ukrainian American

Roxanna Senyshyn, associate professor of applied linguistics and communication arts and sciences who was born in Ukraine, also spoke to the crowd.  

“Sometimes people hesitate to approach us. Ask ‘how do you feel? How are you processing what is happening?’ Sometimes indifference and not engaging in conversation is more painful than actually engaging in conversation,” said Senyshyn, who also has family and friends in Ukraine. "I feel powerless. Sometimes I want to ask: Is this real? How is this happening in this time and age? Coming from that part of the world, it’s my obligation to educate myself and help others to understand and know what is going on."

“Engage with someone who comes from that part of the world. Find out their story. Listen with an open heart. Sometimes it’s listening that’s more important than anything else,” she said. 

On Feb. 24, the Russian government launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in violation of international law. As Eric Barron, president of Penn State, said in an earlier statement, "The implications are deeply troubling: these include the humanitarian toll that already is being felt in Ukraine and around the world; and the potential long-term, global impacts."

An array of experts from across the University discussed Russia's war on Ukraine from a variety of angles at a March 4 panel event co-hosted by the School of International Affairs (SIA) and Penn State Law in University Park.

About Penn State Abington 

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,000 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 23 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics and more.