The choice of a university is often related to the questions of majors, successes, and opportunities. And while answering these questions is part of every university’s duty to its students, not all of them work to develop the young people after they toss the caps, let alone to establish an association to work towards this goal.
AUBG Alumni Association (AAA) was established with the idea of maintaining a connection between graduate students and their Alma Mater. This structure serves as a bridge between the university and the alumni. In addition, one of the main tasks of AAA is to coordinate the activities gathering alumni in Bulgaria and around the world to exchange experience and knowledge.
Generations of students united
With each passing year, the association, led by twelve alumni of the university, becomes part of more initiatives that provide opportunities for both graduates and students to network, share ideas, and implement them. And while annually, a part of the board team is renewed with three new members during the end-of-calendar-year executive elections, at the end of each academic year, the association expands with at least 200 new additions.
Thus, 30 years after the foundation of the university, the number of members in the Alumni Association equals the number of graduates of the university (nearly 6,000) – the diploma provides them with direct participation in this post-university journey. They are all united in the first social network in Bulgaria, which gathers graduates in one place. There, alumni share job vacancies, participate in a mentoring program, and receive information about events and discounts from various companies through the exclusive AUBG alumni card.
“I believe in the strength of the AUBG alumni network and the positive impact we have in the development of the university,” said the President of AAA Jordan Karabinov. “Our shared values and shared experiences during our student years sustain our desire to be part of the growth of our Alma Mater. One of the main lessons that the AUBG community has taught us is to be citizens of the world. We try to pass on this lesson to students today. The dream of the graduates is that, over time, AUBG will gain a reputation as ‘Stanford in the Balkans’.”
AAA President Jordan Karabinov
AUBG Alumni gathering
Maintaining the community after graduation
The online platform is not the only means of communication. Graduate students from all over the world arrive in Bulgaria every five years to take part in the traditional Alumni Mega Reunion. Besides the expected fun part of the program, the meeting helps alumni of different generations to check their clocks, exchange international experience, and pave new roads and bridges – both geographical and metaphorical. Every year, AUBG and AAA organize meetings in different countries, which have become centers of the AUBG community over the years.
Relatively small distances in Bulgaria, of course, facilitate the organization and opportunities for meetings at least several times a year, e.g. traditional events with various speakers and guests at informal dinners. Communication between the university and the association is mainly distributed between the alumni manager, part of the “Development” office at AUBG, and the heads of the Association.
A seat at the decision table
Alumni manager is not the only position with which AUBG proves how important graduate students are to the university. Back in the 90s, shortly after the first class of AUBG started spreading around the world, the Board of Trustees assigned a seat to the chairman of the association at the table for strategic decisions for the development of AUBG. This small but key step gives the alumni the opportunity to share their ideas, provoke debates, include items in the agenda, and, above all, be part of the “architects” of the educational institution.
The philosophy of giving thanks
The idea of “giving back to the community” in which students grew up, is part of the value system that develops at AUBG. This is the main driving force behind the alumni initiatives, no matter if they graduated five, fifteen, or twenty-five years ago. They contribute their personal time, skills, and financial resources to the unfolding life of the AUBG community, but not only. Starting from the association’s leadership candidates, through the volunteer mentors to current students, to each alum returning to campus to tell and inspire others with personal stories. The final cause for the alumni community to assert its importance in 2019 was the Alumni Pledge, an initiative in which alumni pledged to support the university with 5 million dollars within 10 years.
The association, which helps to materialize the accumulated motivation of the graduates, distinguishes AUBG and poses new questions related to the choice of a university beyond the traditional list of questions and concerns. Surely one of them is ‘Is the contribution of this educational institution in which I will spend four years of my life sustainable?’. The AUBG Alumni Association gives a definite and unequivocal answer to this extremely important question for prospective students.
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