To pre-empt skepticism, a logical aftermath of the corrupt practices of the Ukrainian education system, it did not take connections or money to get in. Stamina, conviction and brute luck were the keys.
When I submitted my application to Harvard, the odds were against. I was 21, while the average age of students in the program was 26. I had two years of journalism experience, not five or more serving in a war zone or government or running a nongovernmental organization, as many of my Harvard Kennedy School fellows did. There were no scholarships for Ukrainians admitted to Harvard graduate schools either.
It was a months-long application process – tests, essays, transcripts, and recommendations – almost another job, which I had to combine with reporting work at the Kyiv Post and studying full-time at Kyiv National Shevchenko University.