Humans are naturally attracted to big words. They spray with overstretched canvasses called motivational posters in a desperate effort to motivate themselves. They self-program their brains to “smile today” or “study harder” but rarely are these commands obeyed. Not so with true great achievers. They have no use for proclamations or exclamations; they do not need to chant mantras for success – because they are already successful. These individuals are the embodiment of the proverb “A man is as big as his dreams are.”Zhikica Zach Pagovski is just such a man.
A small-town boy from the Macedonian town of Delchevo, he attended AUBG in the period of 2007-2011. It was here that Zhikica managed to “spread his wings.” He took every opportunity that presented itself and not infrequently came up with his own ideas for new projects and organizations. During his stay at AUBG, he developed the Bulgarian chapter of the student-run think tank Challenge: Future, helped establish close ties between AUBG and his native town, organized the Youth Empowerment Initiative, served in the AUBG Student Government for three consecutive years, and was awarded the Presidential Medal which is the highest honor an AUBG student can obtain and the prize Zhikica cherishes the most.
When asked why he believes Zhikica worthy of this award, ex-president David Huwiler said: “Because he shows a such strong commitment to community service, excellent leadership potential, and respect for the meaning of the Liberal Arts, we found Zhikica to be the best candidate for the 2011 medal.” He also won the David Merchant International Student Award for Achievement of the Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for students who have shown deep involvement in international affairs and academic superiority. Scrutinizing the unabridged list of his prizes and achievements, one might get lost in the jumble of big-sounding words and titles.
And yet Zhikica talks modestly about his numerous successes: “I strongly believe that a single man may bring a positive change for the people around him. That is why I am grateful to the people and organizations that have bestowed medals upon me and have recognized my efforts.” He is also thankful to AUBG for allowing him to discover his dream field – diplomacy – and get prepared for the real world. In his view, AUBG’s Political Science and European Studies Departments offer a high-quality education provided by excellent professors. Owing to their guidance and hard work, he graduated Summa Cum Laude with Honors in both academic fields.
Life after AUBG
Zhikica believes his AUBG experience was strongly shaped by the people around him since he enjoys others’ company all the time. That is why he prompted his younger brother Dejan Pagovski to enroll at the university. On August 19, 2012, the two siblings were present at the opening ceremony of the new academic year, and now Dejan is deep into his freshman experience. Afterward, Zhikica was admitted on a full scholarship at several prestigious graduate schools such as the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna (Austria) and Johns Hopkins University (United States). However, he chose to pursue his studies at the School of International Service of the American University in Washington D.C. Apart from its top diplomacy programs and renowned scholars and professors, the school gave Zhikica a taste of the whole “Washington experience.” In his own words, “Washington is one of the melting pots of diplomacy, and I have the opportunity to attend many events, receptions, conferences and meet extraordinary people. My schedule is interrelated with the city I live in, not limited to on-campus experience.” Along with his academic pursuits, Zhikica works as a Program Assistant at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. and a Regional Representative of the United Macedonian Diaspora for Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Asked about his future, he answers vaguely but assuredly: “My plans are always linked to my personal and career goals: to improve the society I live in. This role is not so tiring if what you are working for is in line with your personal goals.”