by Ayna Pirkuliyeva
“You don’t have to follow everyone else’s path. Create your own life and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself,” says 2005 graduate Monika Evstatieva, from Bulgaria, who dared brave the U.S. media market and today serves as an associate producer on All Things Considered, the flagship news program on the American network National Public Radio and one of the most listened-to radio shows in the United States.
AUBG laid the foundation of Monika’s journalistic career by exposing her to practical assignments in her journalism classes and allowing her to work in the University’s radio station, AURA. In addition to majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication, Monika completed a second major in Business Administration and minored in Fine Arts.
Born in Sofia, she came to Blagoevgrad for the first time in May 2001 for an Open House Day at AUBG. “It was the perfect combination of a picturesque town, with warm weather and a great, youthful spirit. I just fell in love with it,” she recalls.
Monika says that AUBG has entirely changed her life. “It has become an integral part of who I am and what I represent,” she says. “My closest circle of friends consists of AUBG-ers, even here in Washington, D.C. My profession has everything to do with me working for four years in Radio AURA and the patient guidance of three remarkable journalists and professors – Dinka Spirovska, Aernout Van Lynden, and Laura Kelly.”
After completing her studies at AUBG, Monika pursued a master’s degree in International Broadcasting from the American University in Washington, D.C. That’s when she decided that she wanted to live and work in a country where journalists can report as freely as possible. “I wanted to learn the craftsmanship of being a solid journalist and I also wanted to live in a place that offers you the opportunity to succeed, no matter how minute that chance might be,” Monika says.
She first started working at NPR in 2006 as an intern on another signature program called Morning Edition. She became an associate producer on All Things Considered in May 2011.
NPR’s oldest “magazine” program, ATC includes news, analysis, commentary, interviews, and special features and is broadcast live daily to over 13 million listeners. More than 700 stations across the U.S. carry the show. Monika’s responsibilities include directing the live broadcast, as well as picking all the music played during the program. She is also the one inviting various artists and musicians to the program.
“I get to write scripts, book guests, and pitch story ideas. No day is the same as the previous, because I get to work with some brilliant journalists and meet some of the most interesting people in the world today,” Monika says. “I love my job.”