Daniel Penev (’16) in the Ranking of Darik “40 Under 40”

October 26, 2023 Frantsiska Kutevska
Daniel Penev (’16) in the Ranking of Darik “40 Under 40”

Daniel Penev graduated from AUBG in the spring of 2016 majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and Political Science and International Relations and a minor in European Politics. Recently, he became one of Darik Radio’s 40 Under 40, which is an annual list of people who have positively impacted society. 

What matters to me most is not the personal recognition but the recognition that the work I do is meaningful and beneficial to other people. Being included in the 2023 edition of Darik Radio’s 40 Under 40 project has gifted me this precious sense of fulfillment. My hope now is that this recognition will take the stories of the people presented in my books to still more readers around and beyond Bulgaria,” Daniel shared. 

Daniel and the Books

His positive contribution to society comes from his books The People Changing Bulgaria (Vol. 1 – 2019, Vol. 2 – 2022) and It’s Up to Us (2020), as well as the co-authored books Running Towards Yourself (2021, with Bulgarian ultramarathon runner Krasimir Georgiev) and Karin Dom’s First 25 Years (2021, with the Bulgarian Karin Dom Foundation). 

After he got to know the Bulgarian media landscape thanks to his journalistic activities, Daniel decided to create something different. In 2018he came up with the idea for The People Changing Bulgaria. 

“I realized that mainstream media, especially the national TV channels and online media hungry for clicks and advertising revenues, focused excessively on tragedies and anger-, anxiety-, and helplessness-triggering phenomena like poverty, corruption, crimes, terrorism, and long-standing problems and deficiencies in healthcare, education, and the judiciary.”

“Once I decided I wanted to offer a brighter, more hopeful, and more empowering alternative to this dark and frustrating narrative, I also felt I had the necessary skills, confidence, and contacts to take on this challenge. And so I did! 

The first volume was published in November 2019, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary since the collapse of the communist regime in Bulgaria and the beginning of the country’s transition to democracy. In 2022, a second volume came out. 

“I wrote these two books for everyone who needs inspiration regardless of age, gender, level of education, career aspirations, and interests. I hope they reach students and young people up to 25 who are now looking around and thinking of their professional prospects and what they want to achieve. And if I also reach the skeptics and manage to convince them that there are great things happening in Bulgaria and that there are positive examples we can all learn from, I would be even happier.” 

The Book Translator

In addition to offering a brighter picture of the world we live in, Daniel also works as a translator.  

“My journey as a book translator started in April 2018 when I sent an email to AMG Publishing, a Bulgarian publishing house, asking them if I could translate books for them. The editor-in-chief responded almost immediately, we got to know each other, and not long after that AMG Publishing tasked me with my first translation. I have since been translating books for leading publishing houses in Bulgaria, such as Ciela, Hermes, and Iztok-Zapad.” 

Working with some of the leading publishing houses in Bulgaria, Daniel also understands the impact that AI has on the translation process and believes that the human side is still not obsolete. 

“In the cases of both fiction and nonfiction, the translator essentially acts as a co-author, which is a heavy responsibility, but also a wonderful privilege.”


Daniel shared that in the 10th grade, he won a scholarship to study at a private school in London for a year. This experience broadened his horizons, improved his English skills, and fostered independence and critical thinking. This motivated him to focus on preparing for the SAT I and TOEFL exams to meet the admission requirements for AUBG. His dedication paid off, leading to acceptance with a full scholarship by America for Bulgaria Foundation covering his entire four-year education in Blagoevgrad.

He says that one of the things that influenced his professional path is AUBG and the opportunity to receive an international high-quality education just 60km away from his hometown Kyustendil. 

“Looking back now, I can firmly say that the education that I received at AUBG, along with the intellectual and cultural stimulation in and outside the classroom, has served as the best possible springboard for me in personal and professional terms.”

Piece of Advice

When asked to give a piece of advice for current and future AUBG students, Penev shared the following:

Stay healthy, stay hungry, and stay strong, take care of yourself, look for ways to help and give back, set a good example for others, and remember that, if I may borrow the motto Darik Radio has chosen for this year’s edition of 40 Under 40, all of us together can change everything. It’s up to us to turn this noble aspiration into a reality! 

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