Ukrainian students take DePaul online courses


Admin were able to get Ukrainian students enrolled for spring quarter within days.

DePaul is offering online courses for Ukrainian students at no cost. About 100 students are taking 42 online synchronous and asynchronous courses in a variety of majors.

In collaboration with Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), DePaul wanted to help students continue their education amid the Russian invasion.

“When presented with the opportunity to help, our staff and faculty immediately provided the logistics and support to make this happen,” Salma Ghanem, DePaul’s provost said to Newsline. “DePaul is living our Catholic, Vincentian mission by helping these students pursue their education while their country is under assault.”

GianMario Besana, associate provost for global engagement and online learning, started working with UCU during spring break to enroll students. He worked with the national admissions team and registrar’s office.

“They did the magic in the background of making the students in the system making sure that they got the right communication to learn how to activate their Blue Key credential so that they can get into Campus Connect as well,” Besana said.

Besana curated a list of online classes that would end no later than 1 p.m. Central US time so students could attend synchronous classes.

Elissa Foster, a professor in health communications, has three Ukrainian students in one class. Although students may not be pursuing a health communication major, their majors are still applicable.

“One of my Ukrainian students is in marketing, and she’s been working in marketing within the health field in Ukraine,” Foster said. “She saw this as an option for her to take a class and she jumped on it and it seems to be exactly what she was off doing.”

When Foster found out that her class was eligible for Ukrainian students, she was excited.

“I jumped on the opportunity because I think like many other people, it’s hard to be aware of what is going on in that country and not feel a sense of wanting to do something to help and the opportunity to teach and support students which is something that I love to do anyway,” Foster said.

The final details were being organized in a three week span towards the end of winter quarter, spring break and beginning of spring quarter.

“We got back the list from the partner with the students on Friday of spring break,” Besana said. “So the admission, registration and all this stuff happened over the weekend. I think some of the international admission team and the register worked over the weekend to make sure that this happened.”

Despite the short turn around, students have been able to start classes on time with minimal technical difficulty.

“We are working through the technical side of it a little bit,” Foster said.

Students are connecting in class via zoom. Foster saw students were eager to share their support.

“I got the sense that those students were being very careful, supportive and compassionate,” she said. “ I could see in the chat at one point there, they were exchanging phone numbers, so they could be in touch with each other. I thought that was a really lovely gesture of interest on their part.”

Besana said the situation remains fluid in regards to expanding the students’ enrollment into the summer and beyond.

“We are concentrating on making sure that things are working and the student has successfully practiced in spring quarter,” he said. “Then we will open and continue the discussion with the partner to see what the needs are possibly for summer that we don’t know yet.”

The Vincentian mission notes the importance of, “an interconnected globalized society, a quality educational experience will reflect the complexity of cultural and social issues, the diversity of opinions and ways of thinking and the appreciation of difference.”

“I think it all stems from this sense that what’s happening in Europe and in Ukraine is terribly wrong and we really want to help and we really want to support these young people who just want to pursue their education and to move forward into their future,” Foster said.

Besana is excited to see how students will engage and learn from each other.

“Sharing their experience, their culture, their approach to subjects, bringing in their own traditions, their family history, into the classes and sharing them with our students is an extremely fascinating experience for both sides,” he said.