Alex Seredovych’s journey from Ukraine to SEMO

Alex Seredovych is a recent graduate from Southeast Missouri State University. A citizen of Ukraine, his future remains uncertain due to the war.

Alex Seredovych, a 2023 computer science graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, is a serious young man who chooses his words carefully.

Seredovych moved from his home country of Ukraine to the United States in fall 2019 and immediately noticed something about Americans. As is his wont, the words Seredovych selected to articulate his experience were chosen with precision and deliberation.

“My stereotype before I came to the U.S. is that a lot of people here smile a lot. In Ukraine, you don’t smile as much [because] it looks silly. Many times, I thought the smiling was actually disingenuous. Then, I realized this is not always the case. Some people are genuinely warm, and they smile because they’re happy. They’re open. I found out a lot of people actually mean it when they smile and they’re not pretending,” Seredovych said.

He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science on May 13, 2022, in the Show Me Center, one of 149 SEMO undergraduates to finish with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Today, he is a contract software developer working with the Cape Girardeau office of Vizient, which self-identifies as America’s largest healthcare performance improvement company.

“Growing up in Ukraine, communication is more guarded. You don’t walk up to a stranger in my country and just start talking. People here are more spontaneous. I don’t mean Ukrainians are not warm people, but it’s different here and it’s pretty noticeable. A lot of Ukrainians would agree with me, I think,” Seredovych said. “I’m not sure if this applies to the whole Midwest or just Southeast Missouri, but people will just start talking randomly, even if standing in line. For me, this was a shock. It’s very common here and I had to adjust. I think it’s a very nice cultural difference and it’s even better for business relationships.”

Attending SEMO

At SEMO, there were three students from Ukraine enrolled in the completed Spring 2023 semester.

When he left for college, Seredovych said he wanted to see the world and get his degree in computer science. He was drawn to SEMO because of their computer science program, extracurricular activities and multicultural experiences.

“We have people from 65 countries here [at SEMO], and I felt fairly welcomed by the international community. Southeast also came at a fair price. I would also say Cape Girardeau is a good small town for school, and this was also a preference [of mine],” Seredovych said.


Seredovych’s tenure in the U.S. as a college student began before the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, when most of the world shut down in March 2020, Seredovych’s life changed almost overnight.

“The pandemic was definitely a struggle. I was pretty shocked to have a major disaster happen during my second semester of college,” said Seredovych, who asked that B Magazine not write about his parents and other family members in much detail because it remains wartime in his home country.

First, it was COVID-19. On its heels was the Russian invasion of his homeland.

The world knows well what has happened since Feb. 24, 2022, when Russian forces invaded and occupied parts of Ukraine, resulting in tens of thousands of deaths on both sides, to date, and triggering one of Europe’s most serious refugee crises.

Due to the war, Alex’s parents were no longer able to send him money. And for a while, Seredovych was not able to work off-campus due to his international status.

“I was able to work on campus, but it was not enough money because we international students have to pay out-of-state tuition. SEMO did help me there. In time, I was able to apply to the United States in order to work off-campus,” he said.

Seredovych said he does not have Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a designation granted by the Biden Administration and ostensibly made available to roughly 30,000 Ukrainians living in the U.S., according to Time Magazine.

Growing professionally

Seredovych took much solace during this unsettled time in his life as president of International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) Club. This club gives computer science, cybersecurity and other students an outlet to improve programming skills by putting them to the test in competition.

Seredovych told the Southeast Arrow newspaper in a Feb. 21, 2022, article that the problems encountered in competition may mirror those in future job interviews, so the club experience can be quite valuable.

“Programming and problem-solving are probably two main things of ICPC, but also cooperation and communication,” Seredovych told the Arrow, who readily acknowledged the value of the club to his future vocation.

“It’s important to be able to communicate because we don’t have any classes where you have to do public speaking, but in real life, most of the time, you’ll have to work in a team. Since it’s a team competition, you work collaboratively with people,” he said.


Seredovych speaks four languages: Ukrainian, Russian, English and Polish.

“I used to be more fluent in Polish, and when I was home, I used to travel to Poland every three months or so,” he said, adding his hometown of Lviv is less than two hours from the Polish border.

“I will say I dream in English now and when I’m awake, I’m not doing automatic translation in my head anymore. I just think in English today. When I came here almost four years ago, it was entirely the other way. There were lots of words I didn’t know,” Seredovych said. “I started learning English online around age 16 and would literally spend five hours a day writing down words heard at lectures and working on pronunciations. I basically started at zero when it came to English.”

Seredovych said there are phrases in English that have taken him some time to master.

“English is a very interesting, and at the same time, [a] slightly weird language. The word ‘facade’ is an example,” he said. “That’s a French word, but words from other languages seem to easily migrate into English.”

Looking forward

In the future, Seredovych would like to visit Ukraine and see some of his friends again, although a lot of them have left the country. He thinks he might like to pursue a master’s degree in the future and establish more business connections, but Ukraine is frequently on his mind.

“A lot of infrastructure is destroyed, and it’s still dangerous in Ukraine. I’m trying to seek stability here and once I’m financially stable myself, I’d like to go home,” Seredovych said. “I have a philosophy of life where you can’t make others happy if you’re not happy yourself.”