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Hoping for safety a world away - UNF professor expresses concern for her home country

Dr. Nataliya Roman was born and raised in Ukraine and is currently an associate professor of international and political communication at UNF.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — Dr. Nataliya Roman was born in Ukraine and even worked as a reporter for television networks in Ukraine prior to becoming a professor in Jacksonville. As Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine and bombs exploded across her home country, Dr. Roman's thoughts went to friends and family in harm's way.

Bombs erupted throughout Ukraine as Russian forces began to invade.

Russian tanks crossed the border and back here in Jacksonville UNF associate professor Dr. Nataliya Roman began to worry about friends and family in her home country.

"Many of them right now are in bomb shelters," said Dr. Roman, "some of my male friends enlisted in the military and security forces to protect the city."

Currently, roads leading out of Ukraine are packed with cars as thousands of people try to flee war.

"Seeing those images was horrific," recalled Dr. Roman, "I couldn't believe my eyes, I was crying, I could not sleep."

Roman's brother and is family are fleeing war. Recently, he sent her a bracelet made of the colors of Ukraine's flag.

"I'm not there physically, but at least I am with my family mentally," said Dr. Roman while looking down at the bracelet on her wrist that her brother sent her.

Dr. Roman is an associate professor specializing in international and political communication. 

When Russian president Vladimir Putin called last night's actions "a special military operation", she was skeptical.

"Nobody believes Russia," said Dr. Roman, "a full invasion is happening, a war.  Media can no longer publish information from sources other than government about Ukrainian operation, so they're trying to control the narrative."

Thousands of miles from where she was born she is safe, but her heart goes out to family and friends hoping to escape to safety.

Dr. Nataliya Roman was born in Donetsk, which is currently controlled by separatist forces loyal to Russia.

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