Vakarchuk, 39, became the third Yale World Fellow from Ukraine since the program was launched in 2002. The program is designed for mid-career professional with a significant record of achievements.

According to Uma Ramiah, the director of communications for the program, more than 4,000 applications competed for 16 spots in 2015.

While leading the most successful music band in Ukraine, Vakarchuk has been openly political and patriotic since the 2004 Orange Revolution. He founded a non-profit organization Lyudy Maybutnyogo (People of the Future) and worked as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Development Program.

Besides music and politics, Vakarchuk has a degree in theoretical physics. His father, the former Education Minister Ivan Vakarchuk, is a reputed professor of physics.

Vakarchuk visited the Yale campus in March and held a discussion “Physics, Revolution, and Rock & Roll: Reflections on Today’s Ukraine.”


With Okean Elzy taking a break from music for the fall of 2015, Vakarchuk will spend four months, August to November, at the Ivy League university.

“I decided to rest usefully,” Vakarchuk told the Kyiv Post by phone.

When asked how he will use the knowledge he receives in Yale, Vakarchuk said he didn’t know enough about the essence of the program to decide that yet.

“We shall see,” he said.

Yale, in New Haven, Connecticut, is one of the top-rated universities for American and other politicians, including alumni ex-U.S. President George H. W. Bush, ex-Vice President Richard Cheney, ex-President Bill Clinton and ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Not a lot of Ukrainians have graduated from Yale.

Yale World Fellows takes applications from citizens of other countries who are fluent in English and are in the middle stage of their careers.

Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Ihor Shevchenko speaks about his first 100 days in office on March 12 in Kyiv.

Ihor Shevchenko, the first Ukrainian to become a Yale World Fellow in 2006, is the current minister of ecology and natural resources.


Shevchenko, 44, recalled the program as a big help.

“Yale trains global thinking people,” he says.

Living expenses are covered by the organizers. Moreover, Shevchenko was receiving a $6,000 monthly scholarship. Shevchenko said Western education improves a person’s outlook and qualifications.

“It’s important for a person to spend at least a half of year in a developed country and feel a part of that society,” he says.

Former member of parliament Andriy Shevchenko speaks during a public discussion of Ukraine’s 2015 budget on Dec. 24.

Andriy Shevchenko, 38, an ex-member of parliament and former TV journalist, said the Yale World Fellow program influenced him greatly as well.

He received a blue book with a list of 3,000 courses Yale offers to study. Besides intense schedule, it also gave a top-professional network of American elite. Shevchenko visited the discussion led by Tony Blair and Bill Clinton.

Shevchenko found it so valuable that he nominated his friend Vakarchuk, while Vakarchuk has also applied for the program himself. He called Vakarchuk strong in public speech and vital to Ukraine’s social and political life.

“Our country will largely benefit from him being there,” Shevchenko said.


Kyiv Post staff writer Yuliana Romanyshyn can be reached at [email protected]

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