Commencement Ceremony 2024

May 22, 2024 Tsvetana Haydushka
Commencement Ceremony 2024

The AUBG’s Commencement day was known as “the one where the weather is always nice” and the one where one shouldn’t forget to put sunscreen on.

This year AUBG celebrated its 30th Commencement Ceremony, which also happened to be the first one indoors thanks to the rainy morning in Blagoevgrad. With this, there was one more “first” for the Class of 2024 that started their AUBG journey as the first online class in 2020.

Read below the highlights from the ceremony or watch the recording here.

The gloomy weather, however, did not influence the feelings of excitement during the ceremony that showcased the AUBG journey of 196 BA students from 22 countries and 23 EMBA students.

President’s wish

AUBG President Margee Ensign highlighted the global challenges of the world but expressed confidence in the graduates’ ability to make a positive impact.

“So today is both an ending and a beginning. An ending of your life with us here on this campus, with your Blagoevgrad faculty and friends. But also, a beginning of your life as a leader in your chosen fields and in society, just as so many of our alumni before you have become. We are proud of you, class of 2024. We are proud of what you have achieved here with us, and we have very great expectations of you all. We will miss you. And all of us here, your AUBG family, wish you the very best.”

Big Gallery Image

President Ensign congratulating the students

Big Gallery Image

BA students

Big Gallery Image

EMBA students

Val & Sals

The 30th Commencement Ceremony also highlighted the accomplishments of a valedictorian and salutatorians, whose outstanding academic performances exemplify the transformative power of education at AUBG.

  • Deni Mastori (Valedictorian)

Deni is a highly driven and ambitious student from Albania, who graduated with a double major in Computer Science and Information Systems. In recognition of his active pursuit of academic excellence, he received the award for “Outstanding Achievement in Computer Science” at this year’s Honors Convocation. However, Deni’s experience extended far beyond his accomplishments in the classroom. During his AUBG journey, successfully completed multiple internships, won second place at the AUBG Hackathon, and showed himself as a dedicated member of the Sustainability Club and a tutor. After graduation, Deni plans to begin his career in software development and intends to pursue a Master’s in Bioinformatics in Germany.

  • Philip Cherganski (Salutatorian)

Phillip graduated with a double major in Computer Science and Mathematics, as well as a minor in Economics. Phillip has been an active contributor in the math department, serving as a tutor for various courses ever since his second semester at AUBG. He also played a pivotal role as a head judge and chair of the problem design committee in the first ever LimitBee competition, organized by the Polygon club.

  • Frantsiska Kutevska (Salutatorian)

Frantsiska studied History and Civilization, for which she received honors, and Journalism and Mass Communication. During the last academic year, she served as a representative for the Media Studies and History departments. She actively contributed to telling the story of AUBG professors. Frantsiska promoted diversity and cultural heritage as part of the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society and the Samodiva student club. After graduation, she plans to work as a journalist and teach media literacy at high schools and universities.

Read more about the Honors Convocation here.

Presidential Medalist

Maria has distinguished herself through her exceptional academic achievements, majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and Political Science and International Relations, and minoring in European Studies and Psychology. Beyond academia, Maria is a passionate advocate for social change. In her first year at AUBG, Maria was part of the 30 Game-Changers of AUBG. And during the last four years, she has served on the Youth Sounding Board established by the Directorate General for International Partnerships of the European Commission and continues to make significant contributions as a UNICEF Bulgaria advocate for inclusive education. Maria’s dedication to civic engagement and activism is inspiring. Her work as a contracted social media consultant for U-Report Bulgaria and her advocacy efforts have garnered recognition both locally and internationally.

Read more about Maria’s journey at AUBG here.

AUBG Executive MBA

The outstanding students from Cohort 22 of the AUBG EMBA program are Iliyan Stoyanov, who went above and beyond to support his colleagues, and Svilena Valcheva, who assumed a leadership position within the cohort, demonstrating conscientiousness and effectiveness in guiding her peers.

Student Speaker

Brigita has not only completed her BA in Business Administration and Economics but has also earned the outstanding achievement award in both disciplines this year. Her contributions extend far beyond the classroom, having served as a student representative to the Economics department and a tutor in Statistics. She has also distinguished herself as a collaborative student leader and peer supporter in AUBG’s co-curricular program in her roles as an AUBG Olympian and Resident Assistant.

Read or watch Brigita’s speech here. 

Honoris Causa & Keynote Speaker

During the ceremony, Nancy Schiller, President and CEO of America for Bulgaria, was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) and delivered the keynote speech. The recognition served as a tribute to her two decades of unwavering dedication to Bulgaria. During her keynote speech, she shared highlights from her life and work in Bulgaria, as well as valuable advice for the graduating students.

“Through your university experience, you have learned the value of a strong community. Being surrounded by people who lift you up and care about you and your well-being is the essence and magic of the AUBG community.”

Read the full speech here.


During the ceremony, AUBG recognized members of the community who contributed with their energy and passion in the early days of the university.

AUBG’s Board of Trustees also presented the traditional Maria Luisa Emeritus Trustees Award to Professor Georgi Fotev, former Minister of Education. He played a key role in the founding of the university in 1991. Professor Fotev is a long-time friend and associate of the university, having served on the AUBG Board of Trustees for a total of 10 years.

The HRH Princess Maria Luisa’s Distinguished AUBG Alumni Award for Civic Leadership and Change was presented to Christo Grozev (’95) and founder of the university Radio AURA, a world-renowned investigative journalist, he is the executive director and Chairman of the Board of Bellingcat Publishing.

Big Gallery Image

Big Gallery Image

Big Gallery Image

A special award was also presented to Jordan Karabinov (’97), for his dedicated service as President of the AUBG Alumni Association and a member of the Board of Trustees from 2017 to 2024. His leadership has catalyzed significant progress in the association’s engagement with the University’s alumni and current students.

Special congratulations were also extended from the U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, Kenneth Merten, and Blagoevgrad Mayor Metodi Baykushev.

AUBG Commencement Ceremony

Learn more