Oleksii Antoniuk, a junior at Yale College, has been awarded the 2023 Douglas A. Beck Prize by the Jackson School of Global Affairs.
The $1,000 award is given to undergraduates who have demonstrated a deep interest in and commitment to global affairs, with a preference for students interested in a career supporting national security. Winners are selected based on high academic achievement, leadership potential, personal integrity and commitment to public service.
The Ukraine native says he chose Yale in order to pursue “the best education possible, an American education.”
“I believe I’m the first person from my town to attend Yale,” says Antoniuk, who grew up near Kolomyya in the Carpathian Mountains. “I knew if I wanted to pursue this, it would take as much time and energy as I had.”
Now headed into his senior year, Antoniuk is putting that same effort into his time at Yale. He has served as president of Ukraine House, a student organization formed in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In addition to providing a safe space for the roughly two dozen Ukrainian students at Yale, the group has held rallies and fundraisers across campus and have lobbied for more recruitment of Ukrainian students to the university.
He is also the former president of The Alexander Hamilton Society, a campus group aimed at further educating students on global affairs, providing space for constructive debate and creating networking opportunities.
Antoniuk has filled his course load with classes on international relations and foreign policy to infuse global affairs into his studies. He has also served as a research assistant for several Yale professors, including Jackson School political science professor Ian Shapiro and the late Frances Rosenbluth, and has interned with the Ukrainian Parliament and the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, DC.
His latest research is focused on how countries with developing economies are affected by war — a topic that hits close to home.
“I want to contribute to Ukraine’s reconstruction in the future — not just in simple economic terms or rebuilding infrastructure, but the fabric of our institutions and our security,” says Antoniuk. “We have to ensure that Russia cannot hurt or threaten or intervene politically in Ukraine ever again.”
Career-wise, Antoniuk is still weighing his options after he leaves Yale.
“I want to go where I can have the biggest impact,” he says. “The United States will be such a major player in the reconstruction, but the US, Washington, Yale — they will always be there.
“The optimism and dynamism in post-war Ukraine, when we win, that opportunity may never happen again. So, I will choose to focus on the opportunity rather than the location.”
Antoniuk was also recently named a recipient of the John C. Schroeder Award from Yale, which honors students who have contributed to residential college life and who will “play a part in the good labor of the world.”