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‘Unissued diplomas’ memorialize war-slain Ukrainian students

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(Madelyn Beck/WyoFile)
Madelyn Beck with WyoFile, via the Wyoming News Exchange


A Laramie art installation championed by a Ukrainian UW student describes the lives and deaths of those killed in the war.

The names are different from those you typically see around Laramie: Danyil Yevtushenko, Maksym Yasylyshyn, Yevheniia Babakova.

Displayed alongside a portrait and brief bio, they are the names of young Ukrainian students who died in the war with Russia before graduation.

“Raised by his father and grandmother, Danyil was a man of his word,” one description states. “He dreamed of hitchhiking around Ukraine and filming a documentary about it. He studied foreign languages and always had a book with him. He played several musical instruments and sang beautifully.”

Like many others, Danyil Yevtushenko enlisted to fight Russia’s invasion. He died under Russian rocket fire in 2022. Others died at home or while running errands.

Olha Lysenko was on the way home from the dentist when a Russian rocket struck. She’d planned on opening her own hotel and catering business, but died from her burns after a week in the hospital, according to her unissued diploma.

Others’ stories were lost to history when their entire family died.

The “Unissued Diplomas” art installation — with many more names and descriptions — will remain at the Laramie Plains Civic Center through the evening of May 27. It can be found on the first floor near the corner of 7th and Garfield Street.

Displayed in at least 24 countries around the world, the Laramie iteration was championed by Anastasiia Pereverten as part of her University of Wyoming Honors College capstone project.

Pereverten, an international studies major, is from Kyiv, Ukraine. While she didn’t know those pictured in the art personally, Pereverten said, many had gone to the same university back home.

“One of the guys in the exhibit, his name is Ostap Onistrat,” she said. “He was a marketing major, I was [a] cultural studies major. And he was one year above me and went to the same school. We had friends in common.”

Many of her classmates are now serving in the military or are civil volunteers, she said, and her family is on the frontline. Pereverten has focused her time studying abroad here, in part, on how to be an effective advocate for Ukraine, and she aims to push back against Russian propaganda, highlighting the individuals from her home country who’ve lived and died there.

Pereverten recently graduated from UW, but isn’t done with education or advocacy just yet. From here, she goes to Washington, D.C., to do advocacy work with Razom for Ukraine for the summer.

After that, it’s on to Harvard to pursue a master’s degree in Eastern European and Central Asian studies.

“And with that [degree], I hope to benefit [the] Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and work there,” she said.

The transition to life in Laramie was challenging at first, she said. But, because of the ample opportunities she’s had to engage with state politics and advocacy here, Pereverten feels ready to take her work to a larger stage.

“Being the only Ukrainian at the University of Wyoming when the war broke out and being capable to raise awareness, inform the community that supports you, create the infrastructure that talks about Ukraine and resists Russian propaganda — doing that all for two years here I think gave me the skills and knowledge to continue doing that on the bigger scale.”

WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.

This story was posted on May 24, 2024.


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