By John Lauritsen

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. (WCCO) — The war in Ukraine is hitting close to home for a Minnesota student.

Sixteen-year-old Dasha Shyroka is from Ukraine, but she is spending her junior year at Alexandria High School as part of a scholarship program.

READ MORE: What To Do When Severe Weather Strikes While Boating

She was supposed to return home next month but her future is now uncertain.

“I didn’t choose Minnesota, but I got in Minnesota and it’s real fun,” Dasha said.

For Dasha, a year studying overseas hasn’t disappointed. She’s made the honor roll while also making friends. But Dasha never thought her time here would be interrupted by war back home.

“In February, I just woke up one day and I saw a message from my mom that the war had started,” Dasha said.

So far, Dasha’s hometown of Poltava hasn’t been touched and her family is safe.

“They are really scared, and they are not planning on leaving. They are going to stay there,” Dasha said.

READ MORE: Feds Investigating Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked To Organic Strawberries; Cases Reported In Minnesota

But many Ukrainians have fled and the college Dasha was hoping to attend was bombed by the Russian military. Her May 4 flight back home was also canceled, putting her in limbo.

“And now that she and her family have decided that it’s best for her to stay here, we are working through the process of applying for temporary protective status,” Jeff Stuewe said.

Dasha’s visa is set to expire soon. The Stuewes, who are her host family, are working to get her stay extended while also trying to get her a work authorization.

“She wants to be self-sufficient and earn her way but at this point it’s just not possible.,” Stuewe said. “We are going to do what we can to help her through this whole thing.”

The Stuewes have helped sell Ukrainian lapels and T-shirts to raise money for Dasha’s family and others. She has now come to the realization that her long-term future may be here, and not in her homeland.

“It’s really hard and I’m scared and sad, but at the same time, I think everything happens for a reason. I love my host family. They always support me,” Dasha said.

If she can get her visa status and work status squared away, Dasha would like to attend college in Minnesota.

MORE NEWS: Fort Snelling Renovations Honor The Land's 10,000-Year History

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Dasha with expenses, since her family is unable to send her money.

John Lauritsen