Creating yourself – Creating Ukraine!

Our graduates

Over the past 7 years, we have graduated 1208 students who have become a community of learners, developers, volunteers, and service members in the Armed Forces. Our graduates have found employment in top companies and institutions, collaborated with city councils and entrepreneurs, and even created their own startups. They study at some of Ukraine's leading higher education institutions, including NaUKMA, UKU, KPI, KNU named after T. Shevchenko, and LNU named after I. Franko. Some have continued their studies at prestigious universities abroad, such as Minerva Schools at KGI, London Arts University, University of Toronto, Warsaw School of Economics, and University of Ottawa.

Following the recent full-scale invasion, approximately 50 of our graduates have joined the ranks of the Armed Forces, while hundreds have joined the volunteer movement and even founded their own volunteer initiatives.

  • Sofia Academy Graduates Club
  • Graduates’s projects
  • Graduates' career
  • Graduates say about program

Club "Sofia"

is a network of values, friends, ideas and actions, which today has about 600 members.

The purpose of the Club is to unite and strengthen the graduates of the Ukrainian Leadership Academy through the development of a platform of co-operation for the qualitative transformation of Ukrainian society.

Among the main formats of the Club's activity are meetings with opinion leaders around the discussion of current topics and texts, networking, field events, as well as the creation of projects that unite and develop both our community and Ukrainian society. We know: the world of people is created by people - brave, creative, stubborn, with horizons ahead and with their own destiny in tightly clenched fists. That is why we believe in and develop a community of like-minded people to create a better world.

Thanks to participation in "Sofia", graduates have the opportunity to regularly communicate, get to know each other, share their own ideas and implement them together. The Club team, in turn, organizes a platform for such interaction, and also selects the best opportunities for training, employment and development of members.

Команда Клубу:

Oksana Lashenkova
Vladyslav Hazda
Bohdan Hultai
Anastasia Fedorchenko
Anna Chepynoga
Angelina Leshak
Denys Boyechko
Andriy Musyanovych
Yevheniia Sidorenko
Arsen Shumeiko
Marina Kobzar

Graduates’s projects

Our graduates generate bold ideas, skillfully organize processes and are not afraid of taking responsibility. Even today they are implementing important projects that are changing our society.

Ilona Shevchuk

a graduate of 2018, born in Khmelnytskyi region
created thePotrib upcycling workshop

In the Academy, we used an old sewing machine to make 275 toy angels as presents to the residents of Kharkiv. It reminded me of my childhood. If was my first push to sewing. Later I made a blanket for my friend using pieces of fabric and that's when I figured out that one can sew from junk materials.

And after lectures on recycling and conscious consumption, I got interested in the idea of reducing waste and started altering the used clothes. Friends from the Center helped me to buy my own sewing machine through crowdfunding. That's how I came up with the idea of a sewing workshop. The first backpack was made of leftovers from the production of frameless furniture, where I used to work part-time. Now we are sewing fanny packs and bags from these very scraps. However, now it's not a hobby but my main work.

Our products are sold all over Ukraine and abroad. I am glad that we are doing something more purposeful than just backpacks. We create something useful from useless and show the importance of recycling. The Academy gave me confidence, taught me to dream and not be afraid of sharing my idea, because there will always be people who are ready to help.

Ivan Horovskyi

a graduate of 2019, born in the Kyiv region
created his own podcast“The Founders”

As a representative from the Academy, I have volunteered at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Back then I was interested in podcasts and wanted to create one about entrepreneurship. In the Academy, I learned a lot how to improvise and be flexible, not to feel the remoteness of people who might seem distant at first.

As a result, at the Forum I have spontaneously recorded my first interview for "The Founders" with Yura Fyliuk from the "Teple Miso" and later with Yaroslav Anzhaniuk, founder of a Ukrainian startup Petcube. In my podcast, I talk about Ukrainian entrepreneurship from the perspective of creating value for people, not from the perspective of earning.

"The Founders" podcast already has 22 episodes that were listened to 25 thousand times and it has already got its first advertiser. I believe that podcasts can become an alternative for quick content consumption as they are better for conveying important values and telling stories.

Andrii Stashkiv

a graduate of 2017, born in the Lviv region
created a website to counter Covid-19TOGETHER020

It was March 2020, the beginning of the pandemic. When my friend's parents got sick in Italy, I understood that tomorrow the same may happen with my nearest and dearest here, in Ukraine. At the Academy, I gained practical skills in creating projects and understanding that I can make changes around me.

I decided to combine these skills and my IT experience — so my friends and I created an online platform to counter the pandemic. This is a website with a map of healthcare facilities in the frontline, which indicated their current needs. Also, caring entrepreneurs could help buy masks, gloves, or whatever was required, and volunteers could bring doctors by car or buy food for the elderly.

This was an experience of the fastest possible project development in a critical situation as we were talking about the health and life of people. Our initiative was successfully launched in Lviv, Kyiv, and later in Bulgaria. After the Academy, IT for me now goes beyond a classical understanding of work to earn money, it's my way of creating a product that can solve real problems and influence positively the lives of those around me.

Yurii Andrienko

a graduate of 2020, born in the Donetsk region
created a startup for growing plants at -15 degrees Celsius

During the expedition to Israel, I saw the innovations with my own eyes, visited a greenhouse in the middle of the desert, where vegetables are grown in extreme conditions. I got truly inspired and realized that the future is in the agricultural sector.

After all, what is the use of mobile apps if there is no food? And the climate is constantly changing! I have read dozens of books on entrepreneurship, and my mentor timely suggested an agriculture expert who could help.

My friends and I created the technology of growing plants at -15 degrees. We even partnered with the European Aerospace Agency to test plants at the pressure and humidity of Mars. Now, this startup lives without me and may soon be sold to NASA.

Victoria Monastyrska

a graduate of 2017, born in the Zakarpattia region
she created camps for girls — Girls Leadership Camp

"Why are you wearing a T-shirt without a bra? Are you a feminist?" asked me a guy in the Academy. I was surprised with how these things may be interrelated and started exploring feminism and women's leadership. We launched our own project in the Academy.

After an inspiring lecture on fundraising, I came to my friends and said: let's do camps for girls! We saw how they invite lectors and how the program is formed at the Academy, so we knew where to start. The first camp gathered 6 girls. Roman Zinchenko, the founder of Greencubator, who taught us public speaking, was one of the first ones who believed in us and even brought his daughter to the Camp!

Mariia Nasiedkina, the founder of Dyvovyzhni NGO, came from Kyiv to Uzhhorod only to give a lecture at our Camp. Later we won a grant and organized camps with a more extended program. We want to support and motivate girls at the age of 13-16, help them believe in achieving big dreams through self-love.

Vladyslav Nimak

a graduate of 2019, born in the Ivano-Frankivsk region
created “Post”free space in Kalush

Our space has become revolutionary in Kalush! A platform for creativity, self-education and development has appeared in the provincial town. Here one can through a home-style art show, tell about their own educational program, present a startup or take part in a guitar master class.

At our place, young people can speak English and watch movies. It was at the Academy where the thoughts about the value of non-formal education emerged. I also learned to communicate with government and business, seek resources, communicate with the media, and not be afraid of my own crazy ideas.

All this helped to carry out the idea of the space. We are rapidly improving ourselves and aim to make "Poshta" financially independent.

Graduates' career

Our graduates work in prestigious companies and organizations. The skills and experience gained in the Academy help them master any profession, take leadership positions and develop their careers faster.

Khrystyna Uhrak

Works at GlobalLogic IT company
a graduate of 2017, born in the Ivano-Frankivsk region

My IT company is in the top 3 in Ukraine with 6,000 employees. I am a senior recruiter and I help people find a project they like, build a dream team to ensure business growth.

My job is a constant movement and development that makes me happy. I first tried myself in HR at the Academy — before that I had studied journalism, in which I no longer had seen myself. My responsibility was to help recruit new students and then mentors. I liked selecting, watching people, and organizing the processes.

Later, a lector offered me the position of a recruiter in the !Fest Holding of Emotions, and later I received an offer in IT area. It was like a magic! It was the Academy that gave me this profession.

Tetiana Pliatsok

works in the Ukrainska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth) online publication
a graduate of 2017, born in the Lviv region

When I was 21, I applied for the position of publishing editor. I heard about the vacancy from my peer in the Academy. And I got the job! No doubt I have gained faith in myself in the Academy if I dared to apply :) I didn't have any experience back then, but I was hardworking.

At the Academy, I developed resistance to stress and flexibility, because we were taught to be ready for anything: either to sort out quickly when something goes wrong in the project or to suddenly gather in the middle of the night for jogging. Now it helps me to react quickly to the news and be placid when publishing material that 5 or 10 people had been working on.

I have learned to communicate with different people and gained friends in different industries, who will always recommend an interesting speaker. My work inspires me, as people get high-quality information, and the authorities respond to our materials.

Nazarii Nykolaichuk

works at Projector School
a graduate of 2019, born in the Bukovyna region

"Who wants some Kyiv sunshine," shared an opening in Projector a Deputy Manager of my Center on his Facebook page. He studied graphic design and marketing and was a great ambassador of this school.

I saw the post, applied and now I am the Head of Sales and Support Department. I am 19 years old and I am the leader of a team of 7. During our studies at the Academy, there were many projects which required me to work in a team, apply my strengths and creativity — now I rely on this experience.

At the Academy, I developed managerial skills and learned not to be afraid of responsibility. Projector provides with a lot of practice, so our graduates are in great demand on the market — and that's inspiring.

Vlad Babyr

works in Veteran Hub
a graduate of 2018, born in the Crimea

When I was 14, I realized that I wanted to develop security and defence to get my home and Donbas back. I was born in Sevastopol, my father served in the Anti-Terrorist Operation and Joint Forces Operation. At the Academy, I learned more about the Maidan, communicated with the military and veterans a lot.

From the Academy Facebook community, I learnt that the Veteran Hub — a space where veterans are provided with free legal, psychological support, and occupational advice — was recruiting new team members. I am currently working on a Mobile Office project so that veterans could receive quality services even in remote villages.

At the Academy, I learned to work with government agencies, with documents, learned to negotiate with tough entrepreneurs, which is very helpful now.

Dmytro Kalinichenko

works at the National Agency for Higher Education Quality Assurance
a graduate of 2017, born in the Luhansk region

I evaluate the work of higher education institutions as an accreditation expert. My aim is to get rid of plagiarism in our higher education institutions so that students would not face corruption starting from the student years. For this purpose, I study the reports and talk to lecturers.

I can talk to a doctor of technical sciences at the same level, as the Academy has given the experience of communicating with cool people: the former Minister of Economy explained about GDP to me in layman's terms! We discussed fundamental topics with the lecturers, and this helped us to become more mature and expand our horizons.

I have learned to work in a team, asserted myself in my values and got the tools required to improve society.

Anna Biloshapka

works in Astarta-Kyiv agropromholding
a graduate of 2017, born in the Kyiv region

I deal with the corporate social partnership projects of Astarta-Kyiv. Astarta-Kyiv supported the emergence of the Academy Center in Poltava. It was then that I got acquainted with this company and received a job offer.

In particular, I run educational projects for rural youth, initiatives in partnership with the UN Global Compact. I get an insider's view of how business cooperates with international donors. And this experience will definitely help to realize my dream in the future — to become a good diplomat.

Graduates say about program

At that time nobody heard about the Academy: there was no website, no graduates. That time, Roman Tychkivskyi and former Deputy Minister of Education of Israel Erez Eshel visited Kharkiv. They were so inspiring when talking about the Academy as Hogwarts in Ukraine, about the successful experience of Mechinot in Israel, that my parents and I believed them. And the Academy turned out to be a real fairy tale! We became ambassadors of Ukraine to Europe during an expedition to the Netherlands. We listened to the lecturers of the sky-high level: Yevhen Hlibovytskyi, Sviatoslav Vakarchuk, Yunona Lototska. Every day they conducted fact-checking of news and together we laughed at fakes about the Academy on Russian TV channels. Here I met Nataliia Popovych, the founder of One Philosophy, and I have been working as her assistant for three years now. I gained inner confidence, I consciously switched to Ukrainian and really understood why I love Ukraine.

Yevheniya Komartsova
a graduate of 2016, born in the Kharkiv region

The Academy helped me to reestablish contact with Ukraine. For 6 years I have been studying abroad — at the age when the personality is formed. At the Academy, I listened to the lectures of Yaroslav Hrytsak and Orysia Demska, co-organized a marathon named after the fallen soldier Igor Branovytskyi and talked to his fellowmen, talked about identity issues with peers. It reverted me to my roots. The course of financial literacy with Mykhailo Kolisnyk and meetings with entrepreneurs were of great value. One day we were given a non-trivial math problem and I was the first to solve it. It was the moment when I realized that I was really interested in finances. After that, I decided to become a financial expert, and now I work as an analyst in Horizon Capital investment company. My mission is to help Ukrainian companies conquer international markets and make them business champions.

Petro Kocherhan
a graduate of 2016, born in the Lviv region

"Never did I think you would do that," said the mentor barely keeping his tears when he saw our film about the Academy at graduation. Is was so inspiring! I have spent a year shooting short videos to capture our emotions and edited them together with my friend. So, a week before graduation, I decided that I wanted to become a director. This is still my goal. When studying at the Academy, I came up with the name of my future YouTube channel — "A Christian or a villain?". My father is a Greek Catholic priest, a Doctor of Canon Law, and I learned how to make videos. We are talking on provocative topics: is it OK to do the washing up on Sunday, is it necessary to wear a headscarf to church, is it possible to kill Putin? We have 4 thousand subscribers so far. This idea was born in the Academy — my whole current life is rooted in the Academy!

Mahdalyna Dymyd
a graduate of 2016, born in the Lviv region

I came from occupied Crimea and I didn't know Ukrainian well. The Academy helped me to integrate. I got into the Ukrainian-speaking environment, was able to prepare for the external independent testing, and enter the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Thanks to the lectures of Mykhailo Vynnytskyi I understood that I want to study society, so I chose sociology. At the Academy, I understood that it entirely depends on me which benefits I can bring to my country. I was surrounded by very cool peers and mentors who became my family and keep inspiring me. I remember our night reflections with nostalgia — after these conversations, I began to treat myself and the world differently.

Edem Halimov
a graduate of 2016, born in the Crimea

The Academy is a window of opportunities. The main thing is not to be afraid of using them wisely. I would always do my best to be active and ask a million questions during the classes. Some courses actually have changed my mindset. Once, I had a long talk with Valerii Pekar about integral dynamics and he offered me a job! That's when my life has changed forever. At the Euroindex Exhibition Company, I worked with large educational conferences and forums. After the Academy, I realized that I saw myself in educational management, so I continued working at the Lviv Business School of UCU, and later at the Lviv Educational Foundation. I am grateful to the Academy for showing direction for personal development and a community of value-based like-minded people. Here my values were formed, which are still my road map for life

Anastasiya Diakun
a graduate of 2017, born in the Lviv region

"Reinterpret and do not become hostage to the situation," these words of Andrii Zelinskyi sank into my mind. I used to blame someone or something, I thought that "We are not like that but life is such". After the Academy, I clearly understood that everything was up on me. I had a narrow mind: I just wanted to become a programmer, because they earn a lot. At the Academy, I understood how diverse the world is. I became a fan of my small town in the Ternopil region, because I met people who love their cities. I want to come back to Berezhany, join the executive branch and do my best to make the city an attractive tourist destination.

Denys Dvorskyi
a graduate of 2017, born in the Ternopil region

I studied to become a translator, I was excited about learning, but not about the environment. At the Academy, I found a community of the same teenagers who were striving for development. At the Academy, I was able to do my favourite thing — translate and do it in public, as we went to Auschwitz or watched a movie at 3 a.m. when the Ambassador of Belgium or the former Deputy Minister of Education of Israel visited us. At no time did I have such a practice even at university!

Mariya Nadverniuk
a graduate of 2017, born in the Ternopil region

One day a former security guard who painted ostrich eggs visited our Academy. He told us about exhibitions, collectors, how he makes a living doing that. It turns out that you can do such things and you will be appreciated! Thanks to these meetings, I understood that no matter who you are, there would always be a place for you in the world. There is no bureaucracy in the Academy. You feel like a human being, not a cog in the system. You don't take notes because you have to, but you listen to interesting people. The Academy stands on curiosity. You are not obliged to do anything. After this year the world seems to be bigger, but you have grown up as well and you can take it by storm.

Andriy Buniak
a graduate of 2017, born in the Ternopil region

I studied IT and already worked as a system administrator, but with time I lost my interest. I wanted to understand who I am and what I want and the Academy gave me a push. One day during some event, my mentor gave me her camera to take pictures. All followed by my first ever experience of shooting and editing a video from our trip. This is how I became a videographer of the Center. I loved it so much that my parents got me a camera. A few months after graduation I got the first commercial order from my Academy peer who worked for Valerii Pekar. It was wow! I have been doing photography for three years now and it has become my favourite hobby and the main source of income. At the Academy, I learned to communicate with different people so now I find it easy to talk to my models.

Volodymyr Nieizvestnyi
a graduate of 2018, born in the Kyiv region

A manager of my Center once said, "It is less important to know the formula than to be able to find it." The Academy didn't provide answers but taught to find them through conversations with mentors and discussions with peers. Every morning I woke up with people who had goals. I can still remember our morning jogging among the pines in Pushcha-Vodytsia, motivating conversations during breakfasts. I learned to listen, trust, delegate and really work in a team.

Sophia Shkolyk
a graduate of 2018, born in the Lviv region

During each expedition, I saw cool initiatives and fantastic people! I am talking about the young people, who created the "Friends" space and do something in Kostiantynivka daily, the town left by the majority of the population. I am talking about the guide from Chernihiv, who is raising money to restore the 11th-century church. I discovered Ukraine because I used to see only the western regions. I mustered project activities as I organized a three-day event for 800 teenagers — I was engaged in activities related to partners, location, advertising, external communications, logistics. It was a frightening, responsible challenge and I had to work hard. I gained the skill of critical and analytical thinking, as well as complex problem-solving.

Sophiya Shiliak
a graduate of 2018, born in the Ivano-Frankivsk region

At the Academy, I developed a desire to help people through projects and be socially useful. While studying at the Poltava Center, we organized a healthy lifestyle festival: we gave lectures and discussed nutrition, providing an opportunity for Poltava citizens to try different sports. I was so pleased when I saw how grateful the participants were! I learned to work on ideas, project formats, present them to partners and fundraising. These are the skills I am using now while organizing a "Molodvizh" forum in Lviv for 2 thousand participants. The Academy has broadened my horizons. When I'm involved in various community projects and startups in Lviv, I see the big picture now.

Mykola Apetyk
a graduate of 2018, born in the Lviv region

When you grow up in a small village, it seems that politicians and stars are unreachable super-people. The Academy erased this border as I talked to many famous people, did an internship in the Cabinet of Ministers, and recently, as a graduate, moderated the Academy's meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister. I broke the entrenched stereotype that you can only be successful with wealthy parents or with a Harvard diploma, and I have gained faith in myself. For myself, I discovered running, reflection, conscious tourism, and found my best friends. I learned how to create projects and tried myself in communications and that's how I gained the skill that now I am paid for since I work as the Head of the Communications Department at EdEra.

Yaryna Bila
a graduate of 2019, born in the Poltava region

At the Academy, I got interested in news. The state was no longer something abstract but appeared to me as clear mechanism. We got acquainted with the work of the Cabinet of Ministers, the National Bank, the Verkhovna Rada. I developed critical thinking, the ability to discuss and express my own opinion. At the Academy, we mastered the culture of debate, and we communicated with the lecturers on an equal footing. We always planned everything, that's how I learned time management, and I have recently become a coach on this topic for the Red Cross. I am currently studying programming and I already work as a developer in a leading IT company SoftServe. At the Academy, I understood that I want to work with people and develop in IT exactly as a project manager.

Volodymyr Boyko
a graduate of 2019, born in the Ivano-Frankivsk region

At the Academy I was inspired by me peers! One girl was on the FLEX project and had already created a business project for students at schools before she entered the Academy. There was a scout who despite her age was already raising young followers. Another student was engaged in cybersecurity. I felt so uplifted with every new story! I mastered my public speaking skills, as we were taught to speak fluently without cliché in front of an audience. At the Academy, I learned to listen to myself and keep going no matter what.

Khrystyna Telefanko
a graduate of 2019, born in the Poltava region

If formal education provides knowledge in the form of "the lector is reading and you are taking notes," the Academy pays attention to communication while solving common problems with community peers, or while talking to mentors or debating with lecturers. We practised determination and built team spirit through sport. We thought over and gained experience through reflection. The Academy gives soft skills that are required for any profession. I'm studying engineering. This is a project job that requires teamwork, which is exactly what we learned at the Academy.

Taras Stefurak
a graduate of 2019, born in the Ivano-Frankivsk region

I used to think that I wanted to live abroad because medicine, education, and security are better there. But at the Academy, I met the founder of Prometheus, saw how Dozorro and Prozorro, and the Charitable Foundation Enjoying Life work — all these cool things are created by Ukrainians! I understood that Ukraine is a land of opportunities. Even when I was studying at school, I organized several visits to disabled people and launched an English Club in my home town Ladyzhyn. I understood that I can make some influence, but I felt lonely along this way. I made friends at the Academy who became my support and power. We created the "Dobrodvizh" project and involved hundreds of people in good deeds! We keep implementing important initiatives together after graduation.

Khrystyna Osadcha
a graduate of 2020, born in the Vinnytsia region

I want my village Dariivka in the Kherson region to become the most developed one in Ukraine. This is the mission that I formed in the Academy. Back in school, I fulfilled some projects in my village, but I lacked mission-level work and like-minded people. I had all that at the Academy where I have upgraded my managerial and planning skills and leant how to leave my comfort zone. I am currently studying social work. It may not sound too sexy — I would not have even considered this profession before. However, the Academy gave awareness and the ability to see deeper, rather than chasing a wow name. I am happy with my choice as I am studying practical instruments to ensure the functioning of the community. After graduation, I will definitely come back to develop my village.

Danylo Shchohol
a graduate of 2020, born in the Kherson region

After school, I didn't know what I wanted to study. My close ones suggested foreign languages, physics and mathematics, law. But the experience of projects at the Academy let me realize that I want to study management. I mastered public speaking as I had to speak in public a lot, I learned how to manage social networks, read books thoughtfully. Also, I became more confident in my decisions, and together with assertiveness in life values, I gained a community of people, with whom we still keep in touch.

Maruya Prytuliak
a graduate of 2020, born in the Vinnytsia region

There were a lot of my "first times" at the Academy. My first trip abroad, to the Western and Eastern Ukraine, and my first trip by plane. My first public speech in front of a large audience, my first attempt to organize projects and fundraising. I learned to work in a team, listen to others and find compromises, accept and give useful feedback. I had studied computer sciences, but when at the Academy I understood that I wanted to work with people, so I am developing as an IT manager. I wanted to try myself in state service to bring a young value approach. Through the Academy Center I found out about an opening at the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption and now I am working there in the IT Department.

Andriy Yarosh
a graduate of 2020, born in the Poltava region