When an international student got caught up in world politics, the Geneseo community stepped in to help.

By Carol Marcy

International student Radmila Esina ’23 has been in love with art since she was a high school student in Russia. She went on to study and receive degrees in applied art restoration and art history and came to SUNY Geneseo in the fall of 2021.  

“My goal is to become an international specialist in the field of art history,” says Esina. “Majoring in American studies at Geneseo is going to contribute toward developing my expertise.” Esina is also minoring in museum studies. 

Last spring, sanctions against Russia brought on by the war in Ukraine shook her plans, and she lost funding and access to her Russian bank account.

“Radmila was faced with leaving Geneseo,” says Jennifer Kenyon, director of International Student and Scholar Services. “It would have been detrimental to her academic progress to go back to Russia. I wanted to help her overcome that barrier and finish her education here.” 

Thanks to Kenyon’s outreach, the Geneseo community rallied to help Esina stay, and continue her studies at Geneseo. 

“I was really surprised and appreciative,” says Esina. “I am grateful for Jennifer and the support I received.”

Frank Csapo, founder of Ambassador Apartments in Geneseo, stepped in by providing free housing for Esina. Csapo has been a major donor to the college for more than 30 years, establishing many annual scholarships for Geneseo students.

Csapo likes helping a broad population of students, he says, and understands Esina’s circumstances. As a teenager, he left his homeland of Hungary to flee post-revolution and political turmoil. “I have always been grateful to the two Russian soldiers who stamped my papers so I could leave Hungary,” he says.

The Geneseo Foundation is providing Esina support through the One Knight Student Aid Fund. These donor-contributed dollars have helped 165 students throughout the last two years, including students facing financial emergencies due to covid and other unexpected emergency needs.

Esina says her goal is not just to receive a degree but to continue to spend as much time as possible immersed in learning and focusing on American studies. Kenyon says Esina studies hard and maintains a high GPA despite all the challenges. Esina plans to pursue a Ph.D. in art history after Geneseo.

“Even though I couldn’t give any money, Geneseo still wanted me,” says Esina. “That’s really nice.” 


The One Knight Student Aid Fund assists students who have emergency needs. Visit the donor page to make a gift.