AUBG Honors Convocation 2023

April 27, 2023 American University in Bulgaria
AUBG Honors Convocation 2023

The 29th Honors Convocation celebrated academic and co-curricular excellence at AUBG on April 26 at the Dr. Carl Djerassi Theater Hall. Every year, the ceremony recognizes the university’s most distinguished students for their achievements in the classrooms and beyond.

“As we begin to mark the end of this academic year, I think we are all tired, but it’s a “good tired” of a year full of activities, learning, and fun, rather than the bad tired of isolation, uncertainty, and loss,” said President Dr. David Evans in his opening speech. “I hope you will all join together in celebrating a great year and our wonderfully vibrant community life.”

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Presidential Medalist

The Presidential Medal is the grand award at the ceremony and recognition for both academic achievements and contributions to the university community and society as a whole. This year’s award went to Veliyana Georgieva, a student from Bulgaria double-majoring in Political Science and International Relations and Economics. She is currently completing her senior thesis – an econometric analysis of the effects of the COVID-19 recession on the Southern Balkans.

“Receiving the Presidential Medalist 2023 award is an indescribable honor,” said Veliyana. “For me, this award is a recognition of all of my hard work throughout the years and it inspires me to work even harder for the future. To work for me, my family, and for a better world.”

Civic engagement is a passion for Veliyana. Her 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.

What does life after AUBG look like for Veliyana? Bright! Next fall she will join the master’s in economics program at Science Po Paris – one of Europe’s most prestigious institutions. After finishing her master’s, she wants to return to Bulgaria and work on making her dream come true – turn her home into a well-developed democracy, full of ambitious and well-educated people.

Veliyana is the first person in her family to receive a bachelor’s degree. We are sure that her family is immensely proud of her and so are we! The AUBG community is looking forward to seeing Veliyana continue to dream big, act big, and achieve big.
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Special Award For Civil Courage

On June 12, 2022, the town of Red Lodge faced an unprecedented disaster as a 500-year flood struck the area. The floodwaters inundated a large portion of the residential area, causing extensive damage to homes and businesses, and leaving many working-class residents displaced from their homes. As a result, all businesses in town were forced to shut down. Despite the closure of their own business, a small team of the Red Box Car, consisting of four AUBG students and several other employees, stepped up to provide help and support to those in need. They cooked and distributed more than 250 meals each day for the next 10 days, ensuring that the affected residents had access to basic necessities, and assisted with the cleaning of one of the affected local businesses.

For their bravery and invaluable work,  Sara Jakimovska, Kiril Hadzhiyski, Tihomir Mihailov, and Todor Ivanov received a Special Award for Civil Courage from the university as well as a letter of gratitude from the owners of the Red Box Car.

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Find the full list of awards at the Honors Convocation below:

  • Annual Programming Contest Winners: Hava Hoxha, Emiliano Xhukellari, Nikolay Ninov, and Michael Bozhilov
  • Outstanding Contribution to Civic and Community Engagement: Desislava Stamova, Kliment Stamenkov, Monika Boyadzhieva, Spencer Collins, and Zheliana Borisova
  • Outstanding Contribution to Shared Governance: Binderiya Usukhbayar and Thong Nguyen
  • Outstanding Student-Athletes: Eyma Georgieva and Diana Ksendzovskaia-Nikolova
  • Outstanding Resident Assistant: Martina Stoyanova
  • Al Cyrus Award for Theater: Georgi Petkov and Vese Neziri
  • Special Award for Community Harmony: AUBG Choir
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Outstanding Achievements by Major

  • Information Systems: Hava Hoxha and Emiliano Xhukellari
  • Computer Science, Foundations of Computing: Yana Veitsman and Gabriela Georgieva
  • Computer Science, Software Engineering: Aleks Ivanov and Plamen Galinov
  • Mathematics and Science: Simona Karageorgieva and Iva Ivanova
  • Journalism and Mass Communication: Nikoleta Stefanova      
  • Economics: Lyubomira Aleksova and Dimo Rezashki
  • Business Administration: Kristina Myftaraga
  • Business Administration, Finance: Lyubomira Aleksova
  • Business Administration, Management: Stefani Dushilova
  • Business Administration, Marketing: Irena Georgieva
  • Business Administration, Accounting: Nikolay Pachev
  • Modern Languages, French: Lyubomira Aleksova and Nadezhda Dimitrova
  • Modern Languages, Bulgarian: Gerhard Mema
  • Modern Languages, Spanish: Yana Veitsman
  • Literature: Doruntine Aliu
  • Film Studies: Monika Boyadzhieva
  • Vocal Studies: Kera Staneva, Mila Mandicheva, and Leonardo Vacavliev
  • Piano: Mariia Fylyppova 
  • Psychology: Dimitar Donev, Vlada Kolesnikova, and Yoana Petrova
  • European Studies: Nicole Kishkin and Daniela Konova
  • Political Science and International Studies: Viktoria Kuzmanova and Nadezhda Kaloferova
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AUBG Faculty

  • Faculty Emeritus Recognition: Professor John Galletly
  • Faculty Research Award: Professor Evelina Kelbetcheva 
  • Excellence in Teaching Award: Professor Ronald Harvey
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Executive MBA

  • Outstanding Achievement in the EMBA: Dina Jebali and Hristo Kyurkchiev
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Academic Advising Awards

  • Outstanding Subject Tutors: Alesia Musabelliu, Anna Kukova, and Alexander Stamatov 
  • Outstanding Student Advisors: Daryna Kolos and Sabel Basheva
  • Outstanding Faculty Advisor: Professor William Clark 
  • Outstanding Writing Center Tutor: Lyubomira Aleksova
  • Outstanding Peer Counsellors: Christian Tenchev, Nikola Naumovski, and Dimitar Donev 

Annual University Council Essay Competition

  • 3rd place: Kameliya Nikolova
  • 2nd place: Elizabet Ivanova
  • 1st place: Aleksandrina Hadzhigeorgieva

The Filitsa Sofianou-Mullen Creative Writing Competition


  • 3rd place: Malainie O’Brien for “Sweet Memories”
  • 2nd place: AUBG Alum Georgi Staykov for “Eternity”
  • 1st place: Nikoleta Stefanova for “Generation of the Crab”


  • 2nd place: Teodora Decheva for “The Curse of Time”
  • 1st place: AUBG Alum Mitcho Hristov for “Vanya”

Learn more about the competition here.