Maria Chaplia is a recent graduate who has helped build up Ukrainian Students For Liberty through a series of campaigns which received widespread media attention and ultimately helped bring about education reform in Ukraine.
Her first involvement with Students For Liberty was at her local campus group, though she didn’t formally join the organization until after she attended the annual European LibertyCon. Maria heard stories from student leaders she met and thought, “I had to get involved.”
A good deal of Maria’s time as a student leader was focused on the topic of education, an issue she became especially interested in after taking an evening class at a private university, and contrasting that experience to the campus she attended during the day, a public university.
Most students who attend public universities in Ukraine receive taxpayer-subsidized scholarships and Maria set out to challenge this. She launched a campaign centered around education, the motto of which was, “We don’t need scholarships. We need a quality education.”
She organized a demonstration in front of the Ukrainian Minsitry of Finance, and received media attention. This led to her writing an op-ed on the issue, which was then re-published in Ukraine’s most widely-read student newspaper. Maria was then invited to appear on radio and television to discuss the issue further.
The scholarship reforms faced opposition from the Ukrainian president but the reforms were eventually approved. She now views this as one of her biggest achievements.
Additionally, Maria played a major role in the marketing efforts of a Students For Liberty conference hosted in Kyiv which attracted 500 attendees, making it the largest Students For Liberty conference which had ever been hosted in Europe at the time. During this period, she also helped fundraise and successfully bolstered Students For Liberty’s efforts in Ukraine.
Her hard work was recognized when she received the Student of the Year award at last year’s European LibertyCon. She describes this as one of her “brightest moments.”
Reflecting on her time as a student leader, Maria says, “Students For Liberty helped me discover my strong side and harness that,” adding, “Leadership skills are really something I gained thanks to Students For Liberty.”
Today, Maria is working with Students For Liberty as an intern while also working with a political consultancy and fundraising firm based in London.
Maria has put a lot of her heart and soul into Students For Liberty, helping make it a better and stronger organization. We’re thrilled to see what’s next for her and hope her future is filled with many more bright moments.