Monica Boyadzhieva graduated from AUBG in May 2023. She graduated with a major in Journalism and Mass Communication and Self-Designed Major in Film Studies. Upon her graduation, Monica received an award for Outstanding Contribution to Civic and Community Engagement and Outstanding Achievements in Film Studies.
During her studies, she spent four years as part of the student-run Radio AURA, where she created a show about Bulgarian music — Blacksheep, and two years as a member of the More Honors Academy student club. Monica was part of the organization of the AURAxAUBG fest marking the 30th anniversary of AUBG and Radio AURA, which inspired her to organize a charity concert to help the local dog shelter.
To wrap up her AUBG journey, Monica decided to work on a senior capstone project to promote Bulgarian indie music. After presenting her project, she shared more about the idea behind it and her AUBG journey overall.
My senior project in JMC tackles the problem with the distribution and popularity of the Bulgarian alternative music scene. The idea for it came when I rediscovered Bulgarian rock and indie music and I had no one to talk to about it because it is so underground.
I found so many underappreciated artists that create beautiful things in our country that I wanted more people to know about them.
Initially, my idea was to create an online space with information about Bulgarian music but after visiting a couple of live concerts and discovering VIJ [look] magazine, I was inspired to take a different approach and make a print magazine that launches during a live concert with a Bulgarian band.
My first step was to reach out to the band I wanted to perform on the day of my magazine launch – The Gentlemen. I found them lowkey but quirky enough to be the ones I experiment with. I also started researching locations and logistics, including the budget, food, accommodation for the band, etc. Shortly after that I contacted the subjects I wanted to interview for my magazine, and I started scheduling interviews with them in one form or another – in person or over Zoom. After countless phone calls and changes in plans, the magazine was sent for print in April and the band traveled for the concert on May 5 to the location that the municipality provided me permission for (down by the river, up from Roots, and next to Restaurant Shans.)
The main challenge I faced was money. The AUBG McGoldrick Fund for educational enhancement and community relations that I had at that time was not enough to cover the costs of printing a magazine and organizing a live event. I resorted to opening a crowdfunding page, which was more of an experiment for myself, as at the same time I discovered there to be more AUBG resources.
However, in the span of a few days, the donated money on my crowdfunding page exceeded the intended goal and I was able to move on with my creative side of the project in peace.
Plus, the support I was met with from friends, family, and even strangers gave me motivation and a very appreciated push to continue working and giving all my time to this project.
The Gentlemen concert. (Photo/ Alex Iliev)
AUBG students enjoying Bulgarian music. (Photo/ Alex Iliev)
I believe this project has the potential if developed further with the help of people who share the same passion and vision for Bulgarian alternative music (and I met plenty of them in the last semester). My main takeaway is that neither creating a magazine nor organizing a live concert is a one-man job and I’d love to have a team so that this project can expand on a bigger scale someday.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed every single step, and I got a taste of real life – something that I needed to prepare me for leaving this university.
It’s not something that I did not know would be of help, but more of I never considered this a skill that I learnt here and I realized I have it only after dealing with this project: I hate having to pitch myself and my projects in front of strangers as I get nervous from even the easiest and most casual phone call. This project pushed me out of my comfort zone to talk to dozens of people that I wanted to but wouldn’t have approached were it not for this project.
I realized that my four years here and my connections with people have taught me how to present my ideas clearly and win people’s trust in what I do, making them see my potential.
I wouldn’t say I am the greatest business idea pitcher, but I’ve improved because of AUBG.
I wish I was braver to explore sooner. In the first half of my experience in AUBG, I didn’t have the courage to take on creative projects even when they seemed exciting because I didn’t believe I have the necessary skills to execute them well. And in fact, I didn’t. But trying out would’ve taught me way sooner how to deal with my skillset limitations and given me more bravery to push with exploring in the second half of my AUBG life.
I think I have yet to realize how much I have gained at this university in all kinds of ways.
Four years flew by and even though I feel to some extent robbed because of the COVID-19 restrictions, I would not trade my experience for anything in the world – it is the reason why I am doing the things I am doing today and I feel in the right place to step out of the door and see what’s next.
Interested in Communications studies?