Nearly 1,000 soon-to-graduate Biola University students are preparing to mark a milestone in their lives this weekend — and for five of them, the occasion will be especially significant.

That’s because the five Talbot School of Theology students — who join the 336 graduate students to receive their diplomas on Friday, May 27, and 661 undergraduates who will follow suit the next morning — make up the first graduating class from Talbot’s extension site in Kyiv, Ukraine. The Kyiv site, which welcomed this first group of students in the spring of 2007, exists to help meet the great need for theological education across the former Soviet Union.

The five students from Kyiv, one of whom wasn’t able to make the trip to Biola’s La Mirada campus, have been in Southern California since Monday getting to know the university in a different way after many years of studying at the Kyiv location. Being able to study at Talbot has been a blessing to them, they said.

“It was obvious that this was a new level of education when I entered the program, a new level theologically, spiritually and socially,” said Sergei Morokhovsky.

One of the Kyiv graduates, Nataliya Tereshchenko, who teaches at Kyiv Theological Seminary and has taken over the role of admissions coordinator for the Kyiv campus, said, “It’s unbelievable that Talbot came to Kyiv. Personally for me, it was a very special thing what I was able to experience through the program — you get to be in the body among brothers and sisters and practice what you’ve learned and experienced. It’s in your heart and relationships with people.”

Ilia Kozubovski said he especially appreciated the spiritual formation component that every professor incorporated into the classes.

“I loved the spiritual formation program…it was really useful and reached you spiritually,” he said. “All of the professors were real mentors, not just teachers or professors, and it was noticeable.”

Coming to campus was meaningful for the graduates.

“It’s amazing because we can see students and the library and cafeteria,” said Natasha. “We can breathe the same air that everybody here breathes. It wouldn’t be the same without that.”

Inspiring the graduates through the commencement address at both ceremonies will be Libby Little, who served alongside her late husband, Tom, providing medical care in Afghanistan for over 30 years. Little will deliver the commencement address at Biola University’s graduate ceremony on Friday, May 27, 2011, at 6:00 p.m. and at the undergraduate ceremony on Saturday, May 28, 2011, at 9:00 a.m.

Watch the live stream online at or via your iPad, iPhone or iTouch by going to

Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at 562.777.4061 or through email at