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Ukrainian college student in Midland says she's been 'crying a lot' watching the war unfold from afar

Iryna Trystan is a senior tennis player at Northwood University in Midland and is originally from Ukraine.
Courtesy of Northwood University
Iryna Trystan is a senior tennis player at Northwood University in Midland and is originally from Ukraine.

As the Russia-Ukraine conflict intensifies, some Ukrainians are watching from a world away. One college student in Midland has been watching the war in her home country unfold from afar.

Iryna Trystan came to the United States from her home country of Ukraine in 2018 to be a student-athlete. She’s a member of the women’s tennis team at Northwood University and is a senior year.

Two weeks ago, she was experiencing the normal stressors of any college student's final semester. Now, feeling powerless, Trystan has been distracted and finds it difficult to focus.

"I have to worry about my country, about my family constantly," said Trystan. "I loved being on Instagram and Tiktok before [the war]. Now, I hate it because from all the news that I see in videos. I'm just trying to be apart from that and just focus on studying and tennis."

She said her family is safe and sheltering in place and is not allowed to leave their home in Kyiv. They’ve told her it has been full-scale war all around them. Trystan said she’s been able to keep in contact with her family so far throughout the conflict, texting them 2-3 times per day.

"Sometimes it's hard to focus on my education," said Trystan. "I just think about what's happening back home. But at the same time, I realized that my parents and my family would want me to be more positive minded."

Northwood University has launched a fundraising campaign to support Ukrainian students and help people impacted by the war.

The university president, Kent McDonald, said his hope is that fundraising will be able to pay for the rest of Trystan’s education, and he said the university will offer support if she plans to seek asylum in the United States.

Rick Brewer has been news director at WCMU since February 2024.
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