CHICAGO – March, April and May 2020 have been difficult and unprecedented times for the world. The COVID pandemic is disrupting and altering the lives of patients and health-care professionals, as well as medical and dental students. Every day brings changes in regulations and guidelines. Students’ classes are delayed or held online, and their graduation ceremonies went virtual with minimal celebration. Potential students wait eagerly through the uncertain times for their letters of acceptance into medical or dental schools.
The UMANA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization established to improve medical literacy and knowledge among Ukrainians worldwide. It is the educational and instructive arm of the Ukrainian Medical Association of North America (UMANA), awarding scholarships, sponsoring CPR classes, and supporting educational conferences.
During the 2020-2021 academic year, the UMANA Foundation and its Dr. Walter and Olha Prokopiw Scholarship Fund have awarded two scholarships, encouraging and supporting students who have chosen a profession in the healing arts. Since 2007, the foundation has awarded scholarships to 61 deserving medical and dental students studying in the United States and Canada. During this COVID pandemic many of our former scholars are involved in preparing educational resources for the community, as well as working directly on the front lines of health care.
Each recipient receives $3,000 to defray some of the expenses of medical or dental school tuition. The cost of one year of medical education nears $50,000. Many students incur large debts upon graduating. To help relieve their financial burden, the foundation seeks to assist students of Ukrainian descent who show promise and commitment in their health-care careers.
The following are this year’s scholarship recipients.
Hanna Markewycz (class of 2024) was a student athlete at the University of Pittsburgh on the volleyball team. Despite dedicating 20-30 plus hours a week training and competing, she graduated in three and a half years. Ms. Markewycz found time to tutor elementary students in underprivileged neighborhoods. She worked as a lab technician as well as a physical therapy assistant. When she lived in Chicago, she was a member of the Hromovytsia Ukrainian Dance Ensemble. She will begin her medical studies this fall at either the Peoria or Chicago campus of the University of Illinois College of Medicine.
Darya Naumova (class of 2022) moved to Canada from Ukraine 10 years ago. She has been very active in the Ukrainian Canadian Students Organization. She is a board member of the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada, and took the time to teach biology at the Saturday Ukrainian school. Ms. Naumova worked with a group of Harvard students to translate COVID information sheets into 34 languages. She is now involved in a McGill University/Kyiv Hospital “Epidemiology of Trauma” project. She begins her third year this fall at McGill University College of Medicine in Montreal.
Every summer, the UMANA Foundation enables camp counselors to learn cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills in preparation for unforeseen accidents and health-related events at Ukrainian summer youth camps. To date, the foundation has provided training for over 600 camp counselors in these basic life support skills. By performing simple procedures and following certain guidelines, it is possible to save lives until medical professionals arrive.
Unfortunately, this year all the summer camps have been cancelled and classes postponed. The UMANA Foundation hopes to again offer support for these classes next year. Organizations that would like to offer CPR and/or first aid classes are encouraged to apply to the UMANA Foundation for a grant to help offset course expenses. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 773-278-6262 for more information.
Maria Hrycelak, M.D., is president of the UMANA Foundation.