It started with an opportunity. Eduard Gusak sat down with his family and friend as they presented the life altering news to him. Months had passed since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, and Gusak was unsure of what his future held, but he knew he had to move forward.

“They told me I had an opportunity to study in the United States,” Gusak says.

With a bachelor’s degree in political science from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Gusak dreamed of continuing his education at Syracuse University. He wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to attend, but the U.S. government pathway program “Uniting for Ukraine” gave him the chance to see his future clearly.

“It’s so important to provide educational opportunities because it will have an influence on Ukrainian society in the future,” Gusak says. “I’m so thankful to Syracuse University for all that they have given me.”

Although well-versed in the English language, Gusak knew it wasn’t enough to thrive in an educational setting. He needed to go back to the basics and become knowledgeable about the language academically. Gusak enrolled in the English Language Institute at the College of Professional Studies to further improve his fluency.

Just around the corner from Marshall Street, the English Language Institute is an immersive pre-degree program that allows international students, like Gusak, the opportunity to learn English before diving into their undergraduate and graduate programs.

“I want to study public administration, but to be a student one can be proud of I knew I needed to become fluent in English,” Gusak says.

Now in his second semester, Gusak has adapted to life in America and is becoming connected to a variety of communities while also keeping in touch with his roots.

In just five months, Gusak has completed the Department of Public Safety’s community police academy and joined the University’s club swim team and Ukrainian club while he continues to learn English. When Gusak isn’t participating in University activities, he is found volunteering at Ukraine 1991 Foundation, a nonprofit corporation committed to providing resources and assistance in Ukraine.

Instead of taking time to reflect on the past year, Gusak prefers to concentrate on how his future will evolve. Volunteering and advancing his education are how Gusak continues to stay proactive. As an international student, Gusak’s motto is to always trust yourself and keep moving forward.

“We need to do everything we can to change our future,” Gusak says.

Gusak has applied to the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, which he hopes to attend after completing the Academic English program at the English Language Institute. After completing his studies in the U.S., Gusak will return to Ukraine and work in public administration.

“I now understand who I am and who I would like to be,” Gusak says. “There are people in Ukraine who sit without electricity, and even sometimes without food, who said it is more important to be in a democracy country than to have food. That gives me motivation. Every time I see a Ukraine flag, I’m reminded of why I’m here.”

About the English Language Institute

The English Language Institute, a department within the College of Professional Studies, at Syracuse University is a pre-degree program that prepares international students to succeed in their undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Established in 1979, this immersive year-round program allows international students the opportunity to learn English and culture in the heart of New York state.

By Hope Alvarez