Since I started working at AUBG after my own graduation, one of my favorite things to do every spring has been helping the Admissions Office with prospective student interviews. What a thrill to meet inspired young(er) people, write down “great fit for AUBG” in my notes and then actually see them start their journey on campus the following fall. But now that journey’s ending.
As graduation approaches, I decided to check back on some of the students I first talked to four (or five) years ago. To see how they’ll answer the same questions with university life behind them and a new chapter of life about to commence. An exit interview of sorts.
In the spring of 2019, I was fascinated by Veliyana Georgieva. How “proactive and ambitious” she was. Still a teenager, she had started an NGO and was organizing and participating in political simulations in Bulgaria and abroad. She saw no challenges for her time at AUBG, a place she then described as “innovative.” Here is Veliyana, four years later.
Welcome to your exit interview.
Just like last time, tell me a little bit about yourself first.
My name is Veliyana Georgieva, I am a senior at AUBG, graduating with a double major in Political Science and Economics. I am the current Student Government president. I was the president of Model European Union Blagoevgrad for two years. And I am this year’s Presidential Medalist.
What was your academic journey like at AUBG?
A bit broken up by COVID. [laughs] It was interesting. Actually, academics were probably my second favorite thing about AUBG. Our professors, at least for political science and economics, are very high level professionals, and you can learn a lot of things from them. I’m really help with our faculty and my majors. And I think it fit my expectations [in terms of] academics, definitely.
Did you end up studying what you intended to study when you came?
Political Science, yes. I thought I would study Business with it, as everyone at AUBG. But then I turned out to be very good at Economics. So I was like, “Hmm, maybe I should just switch to Economics.” And that’s how I switched to Economics.
How did that change come to be?
Actually, from my microeconomics class. I got very inspired by professor Todorova, so I just continued in the field.
What was it that inspired you?
Her passion for the subject. And her passion moved on to me and I got passionate for the subject and I was participating in every class.
What about your life outside of the classroom? Your community experience at AUBG.
It was a busy one. Especially the last year, especially my senior year. And junior year was busy as well. Given that us,the students, we organize these big events with a lot of outside people. For example, MEU, we had like 60 participants and a good amount of them came from abroad. So we had to shuttle them to Blagoevgrad, we had to provide housing, food and all of these. It’s a huge burden and it’s the same for all other clubs that organize events.
Outside of the classroom, it was definitely engaging. Inside the classroom was also engaging, and that resulted in very little sleep.
How would you balance between between the two – doing two majors, being involved in student life through clubs and through the student government?
I did something I used to do all through high school. I have a planner for the year or I print a week calendar where I can put on my schedule for every single day. I do it every Sunday and I write, “at this hour I’m going to study,” “at this hour I’m going to go have lunch.” That’s actually, I think, the only way I could’ve balanced it.
And it works?
It works very well.
During the pandemic, you weren’t here for some of the time. How did you sort of manage to stay connected?And then when you came back, to dive into AUBG life again?
During the pandemic, I had to stay home because I have a chronic disease which put me at risk if I contracted COVID 19. So I didn’t really have a choice. All of my club meetings I attended online. And during that time, it was my first year as president of MEU, so I was an online president. They had the meetings in the auditorium and I was on the screen.
Through social media and given that all classes had the Zoom option, it was not that hard to stay connected. Except of course I couldn’t meet people in person. But then when I came back with thousands of doses of vaccine, I managed to meet up with people.
Veliyana in her first year at AUBG.
Receiving the Presidential Medal at the 2023 Honors Convocation.
You’re graduating this Sunday. What comes after?
I am doing a master’s degree in Paris, Sciences Po. I’m going to be studying Economics for two years there. And then I will return here for sure. I don’t really see myself living abroad. I don’t want to go live abroad right now, but I didn’t see a better option. Plus, Sciences Po is a really good opportunity. That’s not to be missed.
What are your aspirations to do when you when you come back?
I am interested in the venture capital sector in Bulgaria, but also in the youth sector. I mean, the youth sector has been my passion since I was 16. I am co-president of one of the biggest youth organizations in Bulgaria, Bulgaria of the Young. We deal with youth engagement. So what I want to do when I come back is I want to dedicate myself completely to to this, to the youth development, to providing opportunities for young people in Bulgaria and making our lives better.
But in venture capital you also do something similar. Because you have to deal with young people who have innovative startup ideas and that helps them develop. And not only them – also it helps develop the Bulgarian economy and the Bulgarian social life. Because those startup ideas, they make our life more innovative. So it’s community building what I want to do when I come back.
Four years ago, you told me that you don’t see a challenge for your upcoming time at AUBG. Was there one?
COVID. Unexpected challenge but otherwise, no. If you stick to what you want to do, if I stick to that weekly schedule I have, I don’t really see a challenge.
And what do you think would be a big challenge forward?
In France, being away from my friends and family and being away from home, so I’m going to be coming back a lot. That’s probably going to be my biggest challenge. I mean, I don’t think it will be that hard to adapt. Sciences Po also has very civically engaged students, a lot of student clubs. So it’s going to be a similar experience, just in Paris. Probably my biggest challenge will be that I am abroad and I will miss everyone. That’s why I’ll be coming back frequently.
What do you think is the biggest thing that you got out of your time here?
I think I definitely grew in my relationships with people. Because we live in a bubble with a thousand people, you have to deal with them everyday for four years and you kind of start understanding human behavior a bit more and how to act in certain situations. I got a lot of things from AUBG but I think that’s the most important. Of course, education and, of course, the medal was a great thing to get. But the most important was how to survive in a mini model of the society, which kind of prepares us for the actual society.
And if you had to describe AUBG with one word now, what would it be?
It would be opportunity. AUBG has a lot of hidden opportunities. If everyone read their emails, they would know that there is a lot of things you can do here. You just don’t know about them. You have to kind of look for them. They’re marketed very well, but people just don’t really read their emails.