Discovering a Second Family Halfway Around the World Journey to Commencement: Daria Herasymova turns foreign exchange trip into everlasting Ole Miss experience

This story is part of the "Journey to Commencement" series that highlights University of Mississippi students and their academic and personal journeys from college student to college graduate.

When Daria Herasymova was a high school sophomore, she left Dripro, Ukraine, as a foreign- exchange student to spend her junior year 5,575 miles away at Oxford High School.

She had been selected as a finalist for the Future Leaders Exchange Program administered by the U.S. Department of State, but little did she know this would lead her to find her "second family" and college.

Carol and Robert Dorsey were Daria's host parents during her time at OHS. Bob Dorsey is a former economics professor at the University of Mississippi, and he was one of the four founders of the financial services startup FNC Inc. in 1996. FNC was acquired by Core Logic in 2015.

After her high school year in Oxford, Daria returned to Ukraine, finished high school and enrolled at Oles Honchar Dnipro National University. However, she kept in contact with her host parents, and they were supportive and encouraged her to attend UM.

Daria will graduate from Ole Miss in May with dual degrees in economics and finance. She is also double minoring in management information systems and German.

Daria moved to Oxford from Dnipro, Ukraine in 2015 to pursue a bachelor’s degrees in economics and finance. During her undergraduate career, Daria traveled to Germany for study abroad and language immersion, to Poland to intern for a non-profit, and to China for an internship at the investment bank, Evotech Capital. When in the United States and abroad, Daria shared her culture and represented Ukraine in numerous events. During her time at Ole Miss, she served as a Global Ambassador, Conversational Partner, and a member of International Student Council. Daria is one of seven international students that were welcomed by the Dorseys from Ukraine, Serbia, Moldova, Albania, Armenia and Russia.

She has accomplished her degree in four years by taking 18 hours of coursework almost every semester. She also has traveled to numerous foreign countries through the university: Germany in her freshman year for language immersion classes; Poland in her sophomore year to work at a nonprofit; and China in her junior year as a Freeman Foundation intern at an investment bank.

"This past year, Daria has gone above and beyond what I expect from a student working on her thesis," said Bonnie Van Ness, Daria's finance professor and thesis adviser. "She attended classes with doctoral students, learned SAS programming and she even attended some of our seminars."

She is in the process of preparing for graduate school. She plans to attend the College of William and Mary for a master's degree in business analytics in the fall.

"The business school has allowed me to gain analytical and interpersonal skills that are vital to success in a rapidly changing business environment," said Daria, reflecting on her four years at UM. "During my time at Ole Miss, I have diversified my skill set so that I can be of value in today's job market."

For the first time, the School of Business Administration hosted a special graduation ceremony for its international students on May 1. Nepal, China, India and Ukraine were among the countries represented.

Participants in the International Graduation Celebration at the UM School of Business Administration were, from left, Daria Herasymova, economics and managerial finance graduate from Ukraine; Shivani Chaudhary, a sophomore in general business from Nepal, and Yanqi Li, a junior in general business from China. Photo by Stella Connell/School of Business

"I understand the importance of developing technical and analytical skills, as well as interpersonal and leadership skills," she said. "I have learned that true leadership comes from taking initiative and the ability to communicate and encourage others."

Story by Ali Mae Walsh/School of Business

Cover photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

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