Forecasts, predictions, seasons confusion, climate change. These might be the four fears of every other outdoors event planner but the AUBG team. Yet, not of the AUBG community. For the 29th year in a row, the Commencement Ceremony Plan B in case of rain was once again filed in the archives.
Instead, on May 21, 2023, our community marked the 29th commencement ceremony with excitement, blue sky, brief refreshing winds, and occasional fluffy white clouds to add to the green and blue scenery.
The ceremony showcased the remarkable accomplishments of 246 BA students from 22 countries and 28 EMBA students, marking the culmination of their years of hard work, dedication, and personal growth.
AUBG President David Evans encouraged the recent graduates to earn their success, to give back to the society, and to stay involved with their Alma Mater.
“You all took a risk to come here for your education. We know you are well prepared to enter the next phase of your lives and we send you forth today with a feeling of pride, knowing that your future achievements and success will help define the development of this country, this region, and the 20 home countries you represent as you take your places in business, NGOs, in government and in graduate education.
On this auspicious day, I know that you have high expectations for your future. We have those expectations for you as well. These expectations are well-earned and well-deserved. I challenge you to fulfill your personal goals and make a conscious effort to give back to society for the greater good. Regardless of how you measure personal success, success is earned not given. Go forward with courage and conviction and look back with fondness on your years at AUBG and always be proud to have been a part of this wonderful institution of higher education. I encourage you now as alumni, to stay involved with AUBG. I congratulate you all. May the dreams and aspirations you hold today become the realities of your tomorrow.”
The 29th Commencement Ceremony also highlighted the accomplishments of valedictorians Stefani Dushilova and Nikoleta Stefanova, whose outstanding academic performances exemplify the transformative power of education at AUBG.
- Stefani Dushilova
Stefani Dushilova graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management and Journalism and Mass Communication. Apart from having a grade point average of 4.00, Stefani is also the co-founder and president of Associates Consulting Club.
- Nikoleta Stefanova
Nikoleta Stefanova is a dedicated and caring student from Bulgaria. She is the recipient of a full scholarship by the America for Bulgaria Foundation. At the Honors Convocation, she was awarded Outstanding Student in Journalism and Mass Communication.
- Lyubomira Aleksova
Lyubomira Aleksova graduated with a double major in Economics and Business Administration and a minor in Modern Languages and Cultures with French. She has won outstanding achievement awards in Economics, Business Administration: Finance, and French. She has also received an Outstanding Writing Center Tutor award and is a Presidential and Dean’s List Scholar.
- Iva Ivanova
Iva Ivanova graduated with a double major in Mathematics and Economics. Iva successfully defended a senior thesis in Mathematics on the topic Root systems and applications and achieved a perfect score on the Economics State Exam. She has a silver honor and a National Award for best participant from Bulgaria during the last three editions of the International Youth Math Challenge and an Award for Outstanding Achievement in Mathematics.
- Irena Georguieva
Irena Georgieva graduated with a double major in Business Administration and Economics, along with a minor in Modern Languages and Cultures with a focus on Spanish. Irena aspires to apply her acquired set of skills and pursue a career in the dynamic field of marketing. She envisions a future where she can explore diverse career opportunities, follow her passion, and leave a mark on the world around her.
Read more about the Honors Convocation here.
Veliyana Georgieva’s co-curricular record starts even before AUBG – at the age of 17, she co-founded Bulgaria of the Young – one of the biggest youth NGOs in Bulgaria which she is currently co-president of. Once at AUBG, she rose through the ranks of the student government, starting as a senator, then vice president, and currently president. Veliyana was also the president and now vice president of Model European Union Blagoevgrad, as well as a member of the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars. After the devastating earthquakes, she co-founded the Türkiye and Syria volunteer corpus on campus. In 2022, she represented AUBG at the Get Engaged Civic Engagement Conference by the Open Society University Network.
AUBG Executive MBA
The Executive MBA program was also celebrated during the ceremony, with 28 EMBA students receiving recognition for their remarkable achievements. The outstanding EMBA students from the 21st EMBA Cohort are Dina Jebali and Hristo Kyurukchiev who demonstrated exemplary dedication and acquired invaluable knowledge during their EMBA journey, setting a high standard for professional growth.
Kristian Petrov (’23) graduated with a double major in Economics and Business Administration with a Finance concentration. His AUBG journey began in 2018 when he participated in the AUBG MultiTalent Quest, showcasing his diverse skills and talents. Since then, he has made active contributions to the university through his involvement in various student organizations.
Kristian held leadership positions in two clubs, combining his strong organizational and managerial skills with his passion for sports, healthy lifestyles, entrepreneurship, and business development – AFC “Griffins” and StartUP Blagoevgrad.
Read or watch Kristian’s speech here.
The keynote speaker at the ceremony Manol Peykov, who also received the H.R.H.Princess Maria-Luisa of Bulgaria Award for Civic Leadership and Change, graduated from AUBG’s bachelor’s program in 1995 and the university’s EMBA in 2008. He heads “Zhanet 45”, one of the leading Bulgarian publishing houses. Since 2009, he has organized more than 40 tours around Bulgaria with writers from all over the world.
After the start of the war in Ukraine, Manol started collecting donations for the Ukrainian cause through his personal Facebook profile. So far, he has collected over 1.5 million BGN, as well as another 1.5 million BGN for the victims of the strong earthquake in Turkey and Northern Syria. A few days ago, Manol Peykov received the “Man of the Year 2023” award.
“What makes AUBG a special place is that it offers students (in a very unassuming way) the opportunity to inhabit different worlds, different bodies, and above all different minds. And perhaps, even most importantly, rather than simply preaching freedom, the university teaches how to practice freedom. Or as Aristotle said, ‘Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all’. Looking back, I truly believe that in more ways than one, this last type of education is perhaps the most important skill AUBG teaches us because good education doesn’t really happen in classrooms. It’s like osmosis – it gets into the cells.”
Read or watch the speech here.
Deputy Chair of the Board of Trustees and former AUBG student Victoria Entwistle announced the retirement of H.R.H. Princess Maria-Luisa of Bulgaria during the 29th Commencement Ceremony on May 21, 2023. As a gesture of gratitude to the Princess, the Board of Trustees created a new category, the Princess Maria-Luisa Emeritus Trustees, for retiring members who have served the University with special distinction, and unanimously voted to award Princess Maria-Luisa the first one. In addition to that, Entwistle announced the establishment of a new scholarship for incoming students – the Moral Courage Endowed Scholarship.
Commencement is the word for beginning. I have to tell you that I love this place. I joined this wonderful university long before some of you were born even when two wonderful Bulgarians Stefan Gruev and Dimi Panitza invited me to join the Board. And that was 24 years ago. And I’ve been on it and loved it but now I am 90, I think I’ve got the right to retire. All the best to all of you, you will always be in my heart. And if I can ever do anything for AUBG, I’ll do it.
AUBG Commencement Ceremony