By Yoana Savova
After the mortarboards have flown high and the bachelor robes have been cast aside, students face a decisive crossroads. Placed between university and real life, some graduates return to academia while others navigate the maze of the labor market. Rarely do they manage to have a go at both. Among those rare few is Mirela Spasova, a 2011 AUBG graduate from Bulgaria who, barely a year out of college, already has an impressive resume of professional experience and academic achievement.
Mirela is currently a student at Stanford University in one of the world’s top graduate programs in computer science, where she attends lectures by world-renowned scholars and meets individuals who have developed an innovative Google application, built a dancing robot, or discovered a cure for a serious disease.
Following graduation from AUBG, Mirela took a summer internship at Microsoft in the United States and she has already accepted a job offer from LinkedIn for summer 2012. Her work with LinkedIn’s Data Science team will help her gain more experience in Social Network Analysis and Data Mining, two subjects that are closely tied to her academic interests.
The AUBG graduate says she feels equal to the challenge thanks to her AUBG education and the attitude her mentors helped cultivate.
“At AUBG, I adopted the notion that being average is not enough. AUBG faculty encourage students to try their best and be confident in their abilities,” Mirela says.
As an undergraduate, Mirela double-majored in Computer Science and Economics, managing to excel in both disciplines. Moreover, she successfully combined demanding academic pursuits with a number of co-curricular projects of her own. For example, she and her AUBG mentor, Computer Science Professor John Galletly, developed News Folder, a web-based semantic application that studies users’ online activities and predicts what news items would interest them. Their project received a best paper award at the Sixth International Conference – Computer Science 2011 in Ohrid, Macedonia.
AUBG not only exposed Mirela to complex theoretical concepts but also prepared her to tackle practical problems and imparted vital life skills, such as the ability to take responsibility, be independent, and think on one’s feet. Furthermore, had it not been for the University’s liberal arts system of education, Mirela would never have taken computer science classes (she started out taking courses in other disciplines) and would never have discovered her passion for the field. AUBG also granted the accomplished graduate a Tchaprachikoff scholarship to continue her education at Stanford.
Mirela was an active member of AUBG’s Computer Science Student Union, developing the student club’s new website. She is also the recipient of a Weltner Grant and two Citi Foundation scholarships.