Ukrainian Student Continues To Have Tremendous Support System At Limestone

Charles Wyatt

A Ukraine tennis player has found a place of refuge at Limestone University in the months since her war torn country was invaded by Russian troops.

Limestone sophomore Anastasiia Khriapko won a singles and doubles match for the Saints women’s tennis team on Feb. 24. It was the same day Russia sent military troops into Ukraine from three fronts and fired missiles on several locations near the capital city Kyiv in her hometown.

Her mother is currently living in Poland and is among more than 1.2 million people who have fled from Ukraine. Her father continues to fight in the Ukraine war.

Khriapko spent the summer in New York where she helped several Limestone women’s tennis players work tennis camps. She recently completed her in-person classes and fall tennis schedule at Limestone.

After nearly 10 months of separation from her family, Khriapko was able to reunite with her mother in Poland on Oct. 24. She is currently taking online courses and plans to spend the holidays with family.

“Anastasiia is fortunate she had some place to go this summer. She is currently in Poland getting her Visa renewed and will be back on the Limestone campus in January,” Limestone women’s tennis coach Alan Ferguson said.

Khriapko is among roughly 1,700 Ukrainian college students studying in the United States. She is one of several international students on the Limestone women’s tennis team from Argentina, Romania, France, Italy and Mexico.

Her thoughts have been focused on her family’s safety and the war in Ukraine in the months since the war started.

The future is uncertain for Khriapko amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

While local residents celebrated Halloween, people that remained in her hometown in Kyiv had to line up for water Monday after Russian missiles struck key facilities across the country. The city’s mayor reported 40% of residents in Kyiv remained without water and 270,000 homes had no power as Ukraine residents start the cold winter months.

“It’s day to day. I hope she is strong enough to accept this very unusual life that she is living here through no fault of her own,” Ferguson said. “She is a strong willed individual. She’s had to learn that sometimes there is nothing wrong with asking for help.. She is very thankful and appreciative for the support she has received from the community.”

Limestone University set up a fund to provide financial assistance for Khriapko through its Office of Institutional Advancement. The school’s athletic department has worked with NCAA Division II to provide additional support so the Ukraine student can continue as a Limestone student-athlete.

While there is the daily fear of unknown, Ferguson said Khriapko has learned that she is not alone.

“She has a tremendous support system here in Gaffney and Limestone University,” Ferguson said. “The Limestone athletics department, university, FCA and community members have been very supportive to help her over the past several months. She is studying business and is on track to graduate from Limestone in 2024.”

(Article by Scott Powell, The Gaffney Ledger)