Miami Herbert graduate champions human rights in Ukraine

Alina Miakenka uses her education and resilience to advocate for peace, justice, and gender equality in her homeland.
Miami Herbert graduate champions human rights in Ukraine

Alina had always dreamed of studying abroad in the United States, yet timing had not been in her favor. When the war erupted in ‎Ukraine, Alina, like many Ukrainians, sought refuge in Moldova. ‎When she heard that the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School was providing scholarships for applicants from Ukraine, she knew this was her time. She applied immediately and, in doing so, found a supportive group of ‎people who encouraged her as she began a new phase of her personal, educational, and professional journey. ‎

When she arrived in Miami in August 2022, she was “completely frightened, lost, and depressed”. However, Alina found herself surrounded by “endless support” in her new environment. Overwhelmed with gratitude, she confided, “I ‎was delighted and surprised that people at the University of Miami were very kind to ‎strangers such as myself. They sincerely helped, inspired, and shared their knowledge.”

The transition from Ukraine to the University of Miami was a significant challenge for Alina, as she had to undertake this journey alone, leaving behind her established career as an attorney, family, and friends.

Alina still vividly recalls her first day at the University, filled with uncertainty about navigating the campus, adapting to its culture, and forming friendships. Chicharrónes, arepas, and mofongo—ubiquitous in Miami—were virtually unheard of in Ukraine. Yet, ‎throughout her time in Miami Herbert’s Master of Science in Leadership program, she surprised herself and discovered she was strong, resilient, and exceedingly capable of integrating into the University community that so warmly welcomed her, thanks to the support she received ‎from her teachers and peers. ‎This experience has bolstered her ambition for a post-war vision for Ukraine.

In response to her homeland's crisis, Alina is determined to aid Ukraine and dreams of building an even more robust, prosperous, and modern Ukraine.

Alina established the Ukrainian Women's Congress, an organization that champions gender equality and shapes the gender policy discourse for various sectors in Ukraine. As the CEO of this organization, Alina recently spearheaded a forum in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, in collaboration with the local NATO office. The forum focused on the substantial role of women in security and defense initiatives, featuring a diverse array of speakers including parliament representatives, ministers, non-government officials, human rights organizations, NATO representatives, and ambassadors from countries like Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.

“I am happy that I can apply my knowledge and experience ‎‎gained at Miami Herbert for the benefit of my country,” she said. ‎‎“I plan to continue working in this area, and I will ‎be happy ‎to establish closer contacts here in the United States and gain additional ‎experience and skills.‎”‎

Today, Alina will proudly receive her master’s degree in leadership. After graduating, Alina intends to orchestrate an international event in Reykjavik, Iceland, focusing on women's rights.