Class of 2018 Commence New Journey

May 22, 2018

Hats flew in the air on May 20 as students celebrated at the American University in Bulgaria’s 24th Commencement Ceremony. The day marked a new beginning for 204 undergraduates and another 24 EMBA students.

“Each and every one of you, graduates, exemplifies the success of our efforts as a university,” said AUBG President Dr. Steven Sullivan. “We are very proud of you, and we look forward to your many successes and accomplishments we expect you will attain in the years ahead.”

Instead of the accomplishments to come, student speaker Asya Minkova took a moment to look back at the class’ past four years in the university and the love they found here.

“This love isn’t a strange concept I’ve come up with. It is something AUBG inspires us to feel,” she said in her speech. “We felt this love late at night, while studying in a lobby. We felt it while waiting for permissions for classes. And while talking to professors for an hour. […]These moments will remind us of the countless forms of loving. And by carrying this love, we let AUBG stay with us forever!”

Ambassador Elena Poptodorova, speaking on behalf of the Board of Trustees, confirmed this notion that the university will still be there for the fresh crop of alumni as they step into adulthood. “The fine protective shield of your Alma mater is no more,” she said. “It will remain, though, the place and the time and the community to go back to in your hearts and thoughts in moments of trial or challenge or joy.”

Seven years after her own graduation, Rositsa Zaimova (’11) returned to campus for another commencement. An entrepreneur working with UN agencies, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID, and one of Forbes’30 Under 30 in the field of social entrepreneurship in Europe, she was there to deliver the keynote address to the class of 2018.

“I am a millennial just like you and the fact that I am speaking to you today, rather than someone a lot older and probably more successful, shows not only that we, the young people, have something to say,” Zaimova said. “If we use our voice, passion and energy, we have the power to create the world we want to live in.”

Traditionally the commencement ceremony honored the top students in the class who have distinguished themselves in the field of academics and in community service. Two students share the honor of being the salutatorian of the class of 2018 – Palina Kolvani and Diana Elagina, both with a CGPA of 3.99 on a 4-point scale, while Megin Shehu, with a perfect CGPA of 4.0, is the valedictorian. Rochel Canagasabey was again recognized for earning this year’s Presidential Medal.

This was AUBG’s first ever commencement ceremony to not happen on Blagoevgrad’s main square, due to the massive reconstruction happening there. It moved to the university’s Skaptopara campus, in the space between the Panitza Library and ABF Student Center, giving students a final glance at the place they had for the past four years called home.

Story by Martin Georgiev

Photos by Aleksandar Terziev and Tsvetiana Zaharieva ('17)

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