Area of Study: Bachelor of Science in Management, Master of Finance
Hard work, determination, grit and innovation—for Nazar Tkachenko, that’s what it means to be a Clevelander. A Ukrainian immigrant who has lived in Cleveland most of his life, Tkachenko says he feels he’s “adopted the personality of the city.” And the tenacious pride is familiar.
“That kind of passion and love for a home is not too far off from what it’s like to be Ukrainian,” Tkachenko said. “We’re all striving for a better, brighter future for the place we call home.”
When the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in late February, Tkachenko started seeing blue and yellow waves of support everywhere, including hand-painted murals and buildings lit with the colors of Ukraine’s flag on the Case Western Reserve campus.
Tkachenko has spent the last month taking it all in—and photographing it.
He picked up photography in high school and considers it a hobby-turned-”side hustle.” Tkachenko’s connection to photojournalism has deepened over the last month, with his latest work covering a late-February Cleveland rally in Public Square in support of Ukraine being what he’s most proud of in his career.
These photos showing an outpouring of support for Ukraine are significant to Ukrainians, Tkachenko said, even though the constant reminders of the conflict may be difficult to see. “Not every story is sunshine and rainbows,” he remarked, “but it can be just as captivating.”
Tkachenko said his parents, who live in the Cleveland area, have been “glued to Ukrainian news sources” to ensure they are receiving the most up-to-date information about the conflict. Their family abroad, he said, is safe at home in a western Ukrainian city near the Polish border, about an hour from Lviv.
His parents have provided unwavering support for his myriad hobbies throughout his life. Any time he would bring something new to show off, his parents would remind him of their pride for him. Tkachenko remembers often hearing: “One day, you’ll be someone important.”
At CWRU, Tkachenko is president of the university’s Advocates for Immigrants & Diversity, a club dedicated to raising awareness around immigration and diverse American identities. He spends his free time producing music, coding, practicing graphic design, acting—and, of course, his favorite hobby, photography.
He is set to graduate this spring with dual degrees—a Bachelor of Science in Management and a Master of Finance. He will join PNC Bank in Detroit this August as a part of the organization’s Business Banking Development Program.
Though he’s leaving the city he loves for his next opportunity, Tkachenko will carry his culture—and his passion for Cleveland—wherever he goes.
“That level of pride,” he said, “is something you just have to be here to understand.”