‘Powerful Humility’ Drives Ukrainians to Selflessly Defend their Homeland, says DePaul Alumna Who Served as Ukraine Finance Minister

Natalie Jaresko (BUS ’87), an American-Ukrainian investment banker who previously served as Minister of Finance of Ukraine, delivered a speech at the 15th Annual Consular Corps Luncheon, hosted by The Grace School of Applied Diplomacy at DePaul. | Photo by Jackson Junkin

Natalie Jaresko (BUS ’87), former Minister of Finance of Ukraine, delivered a speech at the 15th Annual Consular Corps Luncheon, hosted by The Grace School of Applied Diplomacy at DePaul. | Photo by Jackson Junkin

Driehaus College of Business alumna Natalie Jaresko (BUS ’87), an American-Ukrainian investment banker who served as Minister of Finance of Ukraine from 2014-2016, returned to DePaul this spring to deliver an impassioned address about the war-torn Eastern European nation.

Jaresko was the keynote speaker at the 15th Annual Consular Corps Luncheon, hosted by The Grace School of Applied Diplomacy at DePaul and its director, David Wellman. The event—attended by consuls general representing countries from around the world, faculty and staff—returned to the Lincoln Park Campus April 28 after a two-year hiatus.

Jaresko began her remarks by referencing the graphic news coverage of the war in Ukraine, which has raised worldwide awareness of both the brutality and heroism that are a daily part of Ukrainian life since Russia invaded the country Feb. 24.

“There is a common thread woven through each of these stories you hear, each of these photos that you’ve seen,” she said. “It is a powerful insistence on a right to self-determination. It is a powerful humility exhibited by each person and each act of kindness, selflessness, strength and unity.

“St. Vincent de Paul said ‘the most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility, for he does not know how to employ it and neither does he know how to defend himself from it’,” she continued. “And this is the reason Ukraine must win this war.”

Natalie Jaresko (BUS ’87) was the keynote speaker at the 15th Annual Consular Corps Luncheon, hosted by The Grace School of Applied Diplomacy at DePaul. The event—attended by consuls general representing countries from around the world, faculty and staff—returned to the Lincoln Park Campus April 28 after a two-year hiatus.

The event was attended by consuls general representing countries from around the world, faculty and staff. | Photo by Jackson Junkin

The Ukrainian people, Jaresko observed, “are serving as an example to all of us. They are speaking truth to power. They are putting others first. They are protecting one another and defending their right to self-determination. That right to enjoy their identity, their culture, their history, their language and their nation.”

The determining factor in the war, she said, “will be the will of the people of Ukraine” to defend their democracy.

“Their strength comes from humility…a deep love of their homeland, and from a humble desire to live freely in our own communities, speak whatever language you wish, practice whatever religion you wish, and demanding of ourselves as much as we demand of our leaders,” she said.

The opportunity to speak about Ukraine at DePaul was “a great honor,” Jaresko said, “because this is the school that inspired me to pursue a life of public service.”

Watch Jaresko’s full speech in the video below.

By Robin Florzak

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