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Darla Moore School of Business

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    MIB candidate Andrii Shovkovyi

Fighting the war from afar

Ukrainian MIB candidate bolsters multinational knowledge to someday “rebuild Ukraine”

Master of International Business December ‘23 candidate Andrii Shovkovyi has more stress than the typical international graduate student. While he’s balancing classwork and acclimating to life in the U.S., Shovkovyi closely watches the Ukrainian and Russian conflict since most of his family are still living in Ukraine — some even actively fighting on the frontlines.

When the war began in February 2022, Shovkovyi was on a short vacation with his girlfriend in Lisbon, Portugal. He said they had an eventful flight with lost luggage, so they crashed once they got to the hotel.

“Suddenly, we were awakened by relatives and friends’ calls from Ukraine saying: ‘A war has started, and we are being bombed,’” Shovkovyi said.

Shovkovyi said the dire reality his family and friends face in Ukraine is dangerous and unpredictable.

“Since the first days of the war, my hometown was circled by the Russian army; my grandparents have lived in basements. Friends and relatives are on the frontlines with weapons to defend the city,” he said.

With unreliable communication, those defending Ukraine go long periods without being able to relay their status. They also avoid using phones so their geolocations are not compromised.

Still in Lisbon, Shovkovyi spent the first four weeks of the conflict coordinating the safety of his family and friends in the thick of the action; he tried directing them to safe routes back to their homes or where they could find fuel, food or shelter. He also spent 12-14 hours a day during that time in a Lisbon charity warehouse packing and sending aid for Ukrainians.

Shovkovyi said if he had been in Ukraine when the war began, he would have fought on the frontlines.

“Faced with the war outside the country and seeing that my hometown was already circled by the Russian military, I decided to find an opportunity to be helpful to the country from outside while trying to achieve my educational goals,” he said. 

After several months indirectly assisting his country in its fight against Russia, Shovkovyi decided he would proceed with his goal to get his master’s in the U.S. He took part in a Ukrainian national decree called the “Ukrainian Global University.”

According to their website, the UGU was established in March 2022 “to bring together the world’s best educational institutions to support Ukrainians and give them opportunities for high-quality education. The main goal of the UGU initiative is to overcome the devastating consequences of Russia’s aggressive war and jointly with the international intellectual community help native Ukrainians gain access to the world’s best institutions for a commitment to come back and rebuild Ukraine.”

Fortunate to be accepted into the UGU, Shovkovyi also said he was “thrilled” to know that the University of South Carolina was a partner of the program. He said the Moore School had already been on his “short list” for business graduate programs.

Shovkovyi explained he aims to learn as much as he can in the Master of International Business program so he can return to Ukraine and contribute to rebuilding all that has been lost in the past 15 months.

His first six months in the MIB program have also given him a different perspective on the Ukrainian and Russian crisis.

“I was able to hear clearly and understand the thoughts and concerns of representatives of different countries about the war in Ukraine,” with his multinational classmates, he said. “It helps to conduct a helicopter view of world diplomacy and world affairs.”

Shovkovyi said he has already enhanced his understanding of cultural differences and how they impact businesses; he also gained “knowledge of governmental and economic system differences across Europe.”

In his final semester, Shovkovyi anticipates adding to his management and consulting experience while also exploring business analytics processes.

Hoping the end of the conflict will end soon in Ukraine’s favor, Shovkovyi intends to someday work with a prominent Ukrainian company as an investment analyst.

He’s already seen the horrifying impacts the war has placed upon his fellow Ukrainians, so he knows his plans and those of all Ukrainians are everchanging.

“For now, everybody is exhausted and pretty depressed by regular sirens, a lack of electricity at night to avoid air raids and with Russia bombing their electricity infrastructure and just an overall psychological state where nobody can plan ahead for their lives,” Shovkovyi said. “At the same time, everybody understands that we must win the war to stop it.”

He said he hopes to honor the “fallen heroes” of the war by finishing his MIB degree and returning to his home country to rebuild and unify Ukraine.

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