Star student is granted the right to remain in Ireland
Published 12/08/2016 | 02:30
An asylum seeker who got anonymous donations totalling €20,000 to pay for her first year at Trinity College Dublin has been granted the right to remain in Ireland.
Nadia Prochukhan (20), from New Ross, Co Wexford, shot to national acclaim in 2014 when she achieved 615 points in her Leaving Certificate. Money from kind-hearted donors enabled her to fulfil her dream of studying Chemistry at Trinity College Dublin.
Mum Tatiana, who lectured in a university in Moscow, left Russia with her two daughters after she spoke out against Vladimir Putin.
Nadia's case - along with another girl's - helped lead to a change in Irish law last year when then-Educatin Minister Jan O'Sullivan announced third-level student grants would be available to asylum seekers for the first time.
Nadia, her mother Tatiana and her younger sister Maria were sent a letter recently informing them that their asylum application, which was submitted in September 2011, was finally approved.
"People I never met donated money for me to attend my first year of college and that is why I've been able to get where I am today. I am so grateful to everyone," Nadia said.
Tatiana said the family had spent the past five years living with no income due to their asylum-seeker status.
Nadia's mother led a campaign for her daughter to be treated like her Irish peers.
Tatiana feared the family would have had to survive indefinitely through donations and support from the people of New Ross and her 78-year-old mother in Russia.
She said being approved to remain in Ireland was one of the greatest moments in her life.
"The letter said we have permission to stay in Ireland for three years so we are entitled to everything an Irish citizen is entitled to, apart from being able to vote. We can become Irish citizens in five years, which would be amazing. We love New Ross and Ireland and I can't imagine living in anywhere else. The people are so good here," she said.
Her family had endured five years of suffering with the constant threat of deportation hanging over them.
"I have been fighting for my children's lives. Often there was no bread on the table. All our money was stolen before we arrived here. We had to wait for the decision because the Government changed the law twice. We were another cog in the wheel. When we got the letter and saw the words we were overjoyed. We have been through hell. We had no work permits and no means to make money." She said Nadia was one of the top performers in her class at Trinity, where in May she completed her second year of her four-year course.
The Prochukhans are hopeful Nadia will be awarded a grant for her third and fourth years, because the fees come to €8,000 per year at Trinity.
Tatiana said: "We have completed all the forms and we are waiting word from the social welfare office. My mother Nina has been paying our rent. She is 78 and works three jobs."
Tatiana said the most difficult thing to witness in recent years was that her daughters never felt equal to their Irish peers.
Tatiana moved here with her daughters Nadia and Maria in 2006, living here until 2009 when they had to return to Russia because her father was very ill. In summing up the last five years, Tatiana said: "Never give and don't forget to thank the people who help you."