LIBERTY, Mo. — Dr. Yuriy Bots came to the United States from Ukraine in 2008 to continue his education.
After completing his PhD in economics at Purdue, he joined the William Jewell College faculty in 2013.
However, he’s recently achieved another milestone here.
“Last week was my ceremony with another 150 people from I believe 52 countries,” Bots said. “And yeah, I became a citizen here in the United States last week.”
He is a dual citizen of this country and his native nation.
“I’m proud to be a citizen of the country where freedom is valued,” Bots said. “Freedom of expression, freedom of electing the president you want, freedom of speech [and] freedom of religion. All of the things that U.S. stands for, Ukraine stands for and upholds.”
From his current home, he is watching his homeland fight.
“This is Day 27, you no longer count the days of the month, you count the days of the war,” he said.
With Bots in Kansas City, and his sister in France, they check on their parents everyday — who remain in Ivano-Frankivsk, in western Ukraine.
“My sister prefers they leave. I prefer they leave. But so far, my parents said ‘No, we would like to stay, this is our country, this is where we live.'” Bots said. “And so far, they’re staying there.”
They do still have an option to go to France, but Bots said not every family has options as Ukraine confronts a refugee crisis as it counts military and civilian casualties.
“They have been displaced, their property has been destroyed,” Bots said of Ukrainian refugees. “They left with whatever they could grab. They’re in a foreign country. They need place to stay. They need food, they need to work, they need to make money. This is devastating.”
In the face of that devastation, a new dual citizen proudly holds two flags.
“That is what I’m proud of, that my country not only values that, but now is defending that freedom,” he said.